… the Victim is not really as helpless as he feels, the Rescuer is not really helping, and the Persecutor does not really have a valid complaint.
– Claude Steiner, Transactional Analyst
Are You Playing the Victim Role Without Knowing it? Karpman Drama Triangle
By Tara Mills | Therapist – http://forgoodloving.com/
One of the hardest things for most people to believe is that they are somehow playing the role of a victim. Chances are if you have a pulse and are able to read this you have played the role of a victim and might not even be aware of it.
It doesn’t matter how many times we hear it from a close friend or loved one being a victim is something we all have a hard time accepting. It didn’t even compute to us that we could be acting like a victim because of course “I am the one who always has everything together and figured out. I am the responsible one, the one who was always nice no matter how ugly the circumstance, that one who has it so together I am able to help others in their time of need(which often they are in need).” All of these statements would describe some thoughts of a rescuing victim or rescuer.
The rescuer enjoys that feeling of helping others out and usually they believe they are doing it to be nice but in actuality it gives them a feeling of superiority. If you are always helping it puts you in a position of superiority. Eventually the victim gets tired of looking up to the rescuer and they get angry so they move from the position of the victim to the position of the persecutor.
The persecutor criticizes, puts people down, and belittles others. Their complaints are not usually valid. When they move up from the victim role in the triangle the rescuer drops down to the victim spot. “Look what you made me do. That’s dumb. I can’t believe you would….!”. Statements like these could all come from the person playing the roles of the persecutor.
The persecutor’s emotional state is often colored with anger, while fear is prevalent with the rescuer and sadness when the person is playing the victim.
Below is a description from Mental Health Today of all the roles in the drama triangle.
PERSECUTOR – “It’s All Your Fault”
- Sets strict limits unnecessarily.
- Keeps Victim oppressed
- Is mobilized by anger
- Rigid, authoritative stance
- “Critical” Parent
VICTIM – “Poor Me”
- Feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed
- Looks for a Rescuer that will perpetuate their negative feelings.
- If stays in Victim position, will block self from making decisions, solving problems, pleasure and self-understanding.
- “Dejected” stance.
RESCUER – “Let Me Help You”
- Rescues when really doesn’t want to.
- Feels guilty if doesn’t rescue.
- Keeps victim dependent.
- Gives permission to fail.
- Expects to fail in rescue attempts.
- “Marshmallow” Parent