I believe that transformation in psychotherapy is when insight is achieved into one’s historical ways of operating in the world, that are not serving well, and personal qualities are harnessed to bring about change and a different way of behaving with other individuals. Therapists from different modalities will often seek to accuntuate the theoretical differences between each other and point to their own particular (and unique) training but ultimately, however, I believe we are all behaviourists. After all, we are all trying to help our clients to bring about changes in their behaviour so that they can enjoy more effective relationships – whether that is in their personal, family or business lives.
Do you regularly find yourself blaming others for your plot in life? Do you often feel helpless and powerless in your dealings with other people? Do you struggle to make decisions and enjoy pleasurable experiences in life? If these questions resonate with you then you may be triggering the victim mentality when dealing with other people.
The “Karpman drama triangle” is a useful tool in bringing awareness to how humans relate to each other and can be attributed to Dr Stephen Karpman, a student of Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis. Berne was a Canadian psychiatrist and was the author of The Games People Play. Karpman borrowed heavily from Berne and used triangles to map conflicted or drama-intense relationships and involves three people unconsciously playing out three roles that mirror their attitudes and behaviour. Whereas Berne used the parent/adult/child triangle Karpman used persecutor/victim/rescuer. Karpman referred to them as being the three aspects, or faces of drama.
Rescuers tend to find victims, as victims are seeking saviours. Co-dependent relationshipsinvolve one person enabling another’s laziness, addiction, recklessness, emotional immaturity or irresponsibility. Persecutors will blame the victims and criticise the enabling behaviour of rescuers.
A way of seeking to “escape” the Drama Triangle is to firstly bringing more awareness to how you operate in the world. The target is to function as an “adult” and not participate in the game. Once you gain greater insight into the way you operate in the world you can free up negative psychic energy. There is a fresh flow of vitality and positive energy when you realise that that there are other, more positive, ways of behaving. The dynamic of your relationships can change for the better.
The accomplished Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said “Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself”. I love this quote. As you face challenges in life it can be fruitful to ask yourself which qualities would you most like to acquire. Working in teams and reporting to more senior figures in a hierarchical structure within a corporate culture poses risks to emotional balance. For some, there is the temptation to adopt the victim role, particularly if working in a toxic work environment and reporting to a passive aggressive boss. Surviving the dysfunctional team culture can be challenging, particularly since people in authority can tend to unconsciously recreate their dysfunctional family background in the way they try to run organisations. The key is to remember that you can transform your way of being at work as well as your way of relating with work colleagues. For more information read my latestarticle on empowering yourself at work.