Although I feel most people would agree that they don’t want drama in their lives, sometimes the conflict that occurs in our relationships or at work, pulls us right into the theatrics of the situation and leaves us feeling lost and overwhelmed. A tool that I often use in therapy is called “The Drama Triangle” by Stephen Karpman, M.D.; we will take the next four posts to explain it, the roles that people play when trapped in the triangle, and lastly, how to get yourself out of drama and feeling more at peace. You may notice yourself or others on the triangle in a general sense, however it is important to note that people can also switch roles at times depending on what is happening in the conflict.
The first role is that of the Persecutor whose m.o. is to blame others as a way to avoid taking responsibility. Persecutors will often use anger as a further means to prove their point and they do so for two reasons: 1. anger keeps them in a defensive position (part of our survival brain) and 2. anger keeps them in denial (which is a perfect way to avoid taking responsibility for their role in the conflict). It is important to note that persecutors have learned somewhere along the way that they had to blame others and therefore feel superior in order to feel safe and although they may come across in a very dominant way, this is an insecure position.
If you had a persecutor as a parent, you will have experienced them as quite rigid; black-and-white thinking, “punishment didn’t fit the crime” type of thing. Very often, persecutors will need to have control, and this can exist on a continuum in which abuse can be a part of the way they gain it. Sometimes a persecutor will use criticism as a way to again, feel superior.
We may recognize someone we know in our lives who tends to be a persecutor, other times it is about slipping into persecution mode (we all have done it to some degree!). In either instance, the bottom line is that you are driven to be right and there is generally no room for flexibility or compromise.The message that ends up being reinforced through this behaviour is “It’s all your fault.”
Tomorrow we will look at the second role of the Victim.
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