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Navigating Life's Dramas:

Updated: Feb 14

Understanding Karpman's Drama Triangle and Choy's Winner's Triangle

Recently I’ve found myself referring to Karpman’s drama triangle a fair bit with clients. With Christmas on the horizon, with all the joy it brings, family and other politics can make things go awry. 

Can you think back to a time, or perhaps it’s even happening to you now, when you were locked in mind games or toxic interactions with someone? Maybe it’s somebody at the office whom you’re finding it difficult to work with, maybe it’s tricky family relationships. 

Often we find ourselves entangled in interpersonal dynamics, and conflict takes over. 

Psychologist Stephen Karpman created the Drama Triangle, a psychological framework presenting the toxic roles we assume when things go wrong. 

In Karpman's Drama Triangle, there are three roles which we can switch between throughout an interaction continuing the drama:

1. The Victim

The Victim role is marked by a sense of powerlessness and helplessness. Individuals in this role often perceive themselves as being unfairly treated, attracting rescuers to come to their aid.

2. The Rescuer

Rescuers enter the scene with good intentions, aiming to save the day. However, their assistance can become enabling, fostering dependency in the Victim. Rescuers may also feel a sense of superiority.

3. The Persecutor

Persecutors adopt a critical and controlling stance. They blame and accuse, taking on the role of the aggressor.

This dynamic creates a cycle where the Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor roles interchange, perpetuating drama.

Dr. Choy recognised the limitations of Karpman's Drama Triangle and proposed a more empowering alternative – the Winner's Triangle. This model encourages healthier interactions and outcomes.

Transitioning to Choy's Winner's Triangle:

1. The Nurturing

Replacing the Rescuer, the Nurturer offers support without fostering dependency. They guide and empower others to find their solutions rather than swooping in to save the day.

2. The Assertive

Similar to the Persecutor, the Assertive encourages growth through constructive feedback. They challenge others to overcome obstacles and develop resilience.

3. The Vulnerable

Replacing the Victim, the Vulnerable takes responsibility for their actions and circumstances. They focus on solutions, creativity, and proactively shaping their reality.

How to break free from the drama

  • Awareness: Recognise when you're caught in the Drama Triangle. Awareness is the first step towards breaking free from these unhealthy dynamics.

  • Communication: Use open and honest communication. Encourage others to express their needs and feelings, creating a space for understanding and collaboration.

  • Empowerment: Embrace the roles of the Winner's Triangle. Empower yourself and others to take responsibility, set boundaries, and pursue solutions rather than dwelling in drama.

If you feel you want additional help with any of the issues in this blog, please do get in touch. Ros 

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