Arnold Counseling
Michael Arnold, MS, LIMHP, LPC
8031 W. Center Rd., Ste. 303
Omaha, NE 68124

Avoiding the Drama

How many times have we found ourselves caught up in Drama? I know I have, and it is a common theme in my work as a therapist. The question that arises is what do we mean by Drama and how does it manifest in everyday relationships? I always fall back on a social model conceived by Steven Karpman MD, a student who studied under Eric Berne. Karpman used a triangle to map conflicted or drama intense relationships. The short version or explanation of the mode...l goes something like this- Karpman would say there are 3 "roles" or "actors" in any drama- a persecutor, a rescuer, and a victim. The persecutor can be described as critical, holier than thou, perhaps abusive either physically or emotionally. He or she is the one who plays "one up" in relationships. The rescuer role is synonymous with one who is like a 'caretaker'. In real life, there certainly are heroic rescuers who save people in distress who are legitimate victims. However, the rescuer referred to in the drama triangle is one who does for others without being asked, with an ingrained belief that others need help and cannot take care of themselves. Rescuers tend to seek or attract people who they feel 'need rescued', usually from the grips of a persecutor. On the other hand, the victim role in the Karpman triangle does not describe an actual victim; it is intended to describe someone who acts like of feels like a victim. ("poor me"). Within the drama triangle the actors can switch roles quickly- the rescuer can become the victim "I was only trying to help", the victim can become the persecutor, the persecutor can become the victim, etc. If you are in a relationship where a lot of drama is being played out, be it a love, social, or work relationship, the Karpman Triangle is a good model for understanding dysfunctional dynamics and the role you might be playing in the drama. It may even help you avoid drama in the first place!

The content of this post is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling. For a free consultation, call 402-401-7567