The Karpman Drama Triangle is the most widespread model of relationships between people. It was first described in 1968 by the classical scholar of transactional analysis Steven Karman. People manipulate each other, depend on each other — and get very tired of it. There’s not much happiness in these kinds of relationships, and people become too exhausted to change anything. However, there is a solution.
Bright Side would like to tell you about the Karpman triangle. In order to solve a problem, you first have to understand it.
The Karpman Triangle
There can be two, three or more people within a triangle. There are always three roles: a victim, a persecutor, and a rescuer. The participants of a triangle often switch their roles. One thing remains unchanged: they’re all manipulators, and they bring pain both to themselves and to their nearest and dearest.
For a victim, life is just pain and suffering. Everyone is unjust, a victim is always too exhausted to cope with the cruel world. A victim feels either scared, or offended, or ashamed. He or she is jealous and envious. He or she lacks time, power, and the desire to improve his or her life. A victim is afraid of life and expects only something bad from it.
He or she also thinks that life is an enemy and the source of all troubles. A persecutor is tense, irritated, angry, and afraid. He or she can’t forget past quarrels and always predicts future problems. This person controls and criticizes his or her closest people, feels an unbearably heavy load of responsibility, and becomes exhausted because of it. A persecutor doesn’t have any energy.
A rescuer feels pity for a victim and angry towards a persecutor. He or she feels more important than everyone else and is proud of their high mission. In fact, a rescuer doesn’t rescue anyone, because nobody asked him or her to do it. A rescuer’s importance is an illusion. He or she aims to achieve self-affirmation, not at providing help to anyone.
How it works
A persecutor can’t leave a victim alone, and criticizes and drills him or her. A victim tries hard, gets exhausted, and whines. A rescuer provides comfort and gives advice and a shoulder to cry on. Participants change their roles from time to time.
This soap opera can last for many years. Participants may not even realize that they are stuck in a triangle. They may even think that everything is good, and that they are happy with their lives. A controller has the opportunity to discharge his or her anger, a victim gets compassion and doesn’t feel responsible for his or her life, and a rescuer rejoices in his or her role as a hero.
Each of them depends on each other because they feel that someone else is the source of all their problems. They try to change other people so that they can fulfill their own needs.