Published on: Jul 28, 2016


There’s a triangle attached to human interactions called the Karpman Drama Triangle, conceived by Stephen Karpman, M.D.   The triangle is one that I’m not sure many people are aware of.

Most everyone in the world communicates in this triangle, and it’s not healthy. To leave the triangle a person must first realize what’s happening, and make the conscious decision to change.  One of the hardest things to do is to walk away, but it’s also the healthiest. We’re all in charge of our own emotions.  No one in this world is powerful enough to control how we feel.  (Unless we choose to give our power away)

The three unhealthy points of the triangle are the victim (child), persecutor, and rescuer (parent). The persecutor is the attacker, while the victim is the person on the receiving end (“Poor me!”).  The rescuer is the person who swoops down to save the victim; AKA, the enabler. The rescuer might think that they’re being helpful, but in reality, they’re keeping the victim dependent on them.

The opposite of the drama triangle is much more productive.  The opposite is when people begin acting like adults.  When a person can admit fault and walk away from toxic environments, they are acting in the positive triangle.  We all communicate differently, and I believe that there are three distinct ways in which we do so.

Three distinct communication styles

  1. Immature communicators
  2. Aware communicators
  3. Mature communicators.

Immature communicators are the people who give silent treatments, and never confront anyone about what’s really bothering them.  When a confrontation occurs it’s like a bomb going off.  Having an argument with immature people often ends with the receiving end feeling attacked (this is how arguments about nothing happen). Think of the people who say that they’re fine when they aren’t.  Or those people who get mad when you don’t know what’s bothering them. (Because we’re all mind readers, right?!)

When I think of this type of communication style I always think about politics.  The political parties want the same thing at the end of the day, but they’re too high strung to see it.  The persecutor attacks and the receiving end will become the victim if they let their feelings get hurt. Then the rescuer swoops in to defend the victim, leaving the victim dependent on the rescuer.  Remember; the longer you remain dependent, the longer you’ll stay where you are.

Aware communicators are the people who understand that they struggle with communication, and are working on becoming better at it. These are the people who can admit that they hate confrontation but do it anyway (in a healthy voice). They don’t give silent treatments because they understand how destructive it is to any relationship.  A person in this category will walk away when they’re being attacked because they understand that it’s the adult thing to do. These people who offer their points of view, but they won’t give it if the other side refuses to listen. In my opinion, this is the most challenging communication style.  Walking away from an argument can be rather difficult, especially if you’re feeling a little hurt. I know a lot of people in this category (including myself), and I applaud them.

Mature communicators are the people who never enter the triangle, and they’re going to be the most adult of anyone. These people won’t run away from a conflict.  Mature communicators will realize when they’re being pulled into a child or parent roll and choose to walk away.  These people don’t get involved with arguments on social media or in general.  They realize that they can’t change the world by crying about it.  People need to go out and work to change the world, and they know this.

People can go through all three levels at any given time, that’s natural.  It’s where you choose to stay that matters.

As a side note; I was listening to the radio yesterday when a guest on the show was speaking about being more positive.  He mentioned that there were more happy people in this world than angry people, and I tend to agree.  The happy just seem to keep their mouths shut, and stay quiet.  They are also more productive and successful in life

I mention this because I feel that it’s important to remember who we truly are, and how we want the world to perceive us.  If we constantly throw stones at the opposing team and let anger take over, we’ve already lost.  Instead, we need to really take a step back a remember that the only person we have control over is ourselves.  Yelling and bashing others is no way to change the world.  Staying out of the triangle is a huge step in making a true mark on society.  I challenge you to give it a try.



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