Remy Blumenfeld explains “The definition of Rescuer in the Drama Triangle is someone who seems to be striving to solve a victim’s problems but in fact does so in ways that result in the victim having less power, with the rescuer benefiting more than the victim”
The drama triangle formulated by Karpman is a helpful model that enables us to understand the dysfunctional roles we play when engulfed in a conflict. “These roles are so ingrained in our cultural milieu that we don’t even see them; we just seamlessly (and unconsciously) step into them. But they are like junk food, providing only temporary stimulation and a quick shot in the arm of power, leaving us weaker in the long run,” adds Christine Carter.
Avoiding the drama triangle
Once you realize what persona you take on in a conflict, you can finally start taking the necessary steps to avoid taking on these dysfunctional roles. Here are a few ways you can get started:
1. Do not engage
Whether you play the role of a victim, a persecutor, or a rescuer, remind yourself that it is a choice. You can choose which role to play. And you can also choose whether you want to play any part in the drama at all. The best way to deal with the triangle is not to engage in conflict and get yourself involved in the drama at all. Yes, conflicts happen. The moment you realize that a conflict is arising, simply ignore the situation and walk away. This will not only be good for your mental health, it will also empower you to avoid falling into a set role.
“If, after you’ve evaluated and spotted the Drama Triangles in your life, I recommend you do yourself a favour and walk away,” suggests author and mindfulness expert Martin O’Toole. He adds “Seriously, just hold your hand up in their face, stop them in their tracks… the best way to stop a Drama Triangle from happening is to remove yourself from the equation altogether.”
2. Have a neutral attitude
“Under any circumstance, do not become defensive,” warns recovery expert Sharie Stines, Psy.D. Even when you feel defensive, make sure that you don’t speak, behave or act from a defensive mindset. Stines adds “Use a non-reactive, non-emotional, easy-going tone. Make statements that stop the conflict… Remind yourself to not get ‘hooked’ into the drama.”
3. Change your role
Instead of becoming a victim, a persecutor, or a rescuer, choose to shift your persona and take on a different role in the drama. The Empowerment Dynamic (TED) created by medical doctor & coach David Emerald Womeldorff shows us how we can choose a role based on our passions. This new model focuses on goals & outcomes and provides a solution to Karpman’s drama triangle.
According to the TED model, the dysfunctional roles of the people involved in conflict and drama can shift to a constructive role.
The victim can choose to be the creator.
Instead of wallowing self-pity, they can shift their focus from problem-oriented to solution-oriented. “When we take responsibility for the role we play in challenging situations, and for our lives, we trade the false power of victimhood for the real power that comes from creating the life we want,” explains Christine Carter.
The persecutor can become the challenger.
Persecutors can be people and situations that compel the creator (former victim) to focus on their needs and personal growth. She writes “Challengers always tell the truth, even when it is painful.”
The rescuer can evolve into the coach.
By transforming into the coach, the rescuer can help the creator in taking decisions and making necessary choices to solve problems in their lives. Carter adds “A coach asks questions that help the creator to see the possibilities for positive action, and to focus on what they do want instead of what they do not want.”