Some of you may have heard of the Drama Triangle at some point in your lives, you may have been involved in the triangle of psychological games more often than you realise and you may have even caused the games yourself without meaning to.
The Drama Triangle was conceived by Stephen Karpman, who was a student of Eric Berne -founder of Transactional Analysis, and the Drama Triangle entered the psychological world in 1968 explaining the destructive social and psychological games we all find ourselves in from time to time.
In any addiction you will find psychological games being played, they are usually unintentional, but once detected can change the recovery process, having great success for both the addict and those supporting them.
There are three positions within the drama triangle (DT):
So let’s look at how psychological games are played
Once Addiction has been identified, the addict may feel embarrassed and small, putting them in the position of victim in the DT. Then a family member/friend wanting to help, notices the vulnerability of the addict, therefore moves into rescuer wanting to aid the addict’s recovery from their addiction.
Some time may pass in these positions, but as the addict’s addiction need increases, they find reasons or maybe cause arguments to make way for their addiction need to be met.
So the addict moves into the persecutor position in the DT, by causing arguments and the friend is pushed into the victim position feeling all their efforts were worthless.
The cycle could then move to the friend moving into persecutor, through anger towards the addict or fear for their wellbeing and depending on where the addict is in their addiction cycle they could move into rescuer by saying “everything is ok” or back into the victim and feeling small and vulnerable again.
The friend then moves into either rescuer or remains in persecutor for a while until the whole cycle starts all over again.
There is another position within the DT I haven’t mentioned, the position of adult. This position is one of being real, honest and truthful in the here and now. It is a place which gives you the ability to identify the psychological games being played, which the addict may be in control of and allows the helper to protect their own well-being and peace of mind from an often very destructive path of communication when aiding addiction recovery.
Choosing to step out of the DT can be tricky, as you don’t want to abandon the addict, and the addict may well try and pull you back into the DT by moving into the victim position. But over time as you remain in adult you discover it is a much healthier psychological place to be and the help you offer the addict is more productive and less destructive to both parties.
There are no winners in the DT, as it’s destructive cycle restricts growth, understanding and aids the addictions survival in the long run. Finding help to change the way you communicate as an addict and someone who is helping an addictive person can change the whole process of moving into recovery and once your awareness is at the point of identifying the DT, it is highly unlikely you will get pulled back into the DT ever again.
Psychological games appear in all social situations, they appear in the workplace, friendship groups and families and can be very destructive to the wellbeing of all.
Take some time to see if you can identify the DT in any situations in your life at the moment.
Do you know that one friend who you just can’t work out?
One minute you’re the best thing since sliced bread and the next you’re hardly worth talking to?
Is there a person at work who has you jumping through hoops to please them, then you feel everything you did was worthless?
Is there a member of your family always in the victim position, but then if everyone tries to help they reject all offers?
These are psychological games being played through the Drama Triangle.
Try your hardest not to engage in the game next time you identify it?
Addiction of any kind is hard to negotiate through to recovery, but if you are aware of and are able to remove some of the unseen elements of this process it can aid not only the recovery but also the future management of the addiction.
Seeking help with a counsellor with knowledge of the DT could help addicts and their friend/family members in understanding of the DT elements……..it’s beneficial to all be on the same page as you work through this very common chapter of life, that many people find themselves in today, and it is possible for you to evolve into a more aware and psychologically healthier person.