What Is The Drama Triangle?

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The Drama Triangle is a concept first developed in the 1960s by psychologist Stephen Karpman. Long story short, according to Karpman, everyone takes on the role — in whatever type of relationship — of either the:

  • victim
  • persecutor
  • rescuer

And while we may have a natural propensity toward one of these styles, we all at some point identify with all three. 

The Drama Triangle We All Identify with Relationships

What Is The Drama Triangle?

I’ve been studying this subject as of late because, yes, there’s some drama going on in my family. 

For me, when things get overwhelming — or when I start to feel a little bit like a victim — I go into research mode. I’m immediately aware that I need to develop a plan to solve whatever uncomfortable relationship dynamic is going on.

There’s nothing I hate more than feeling like I don’t have choices! 

Let’s get to it…

The Rescuer

This person needs to rescue people in order to feel good. 

However, the rescuer can also be a concept, as in:

  • a drug
  • alcohol
  • your faith

In other words, whatever your escape is. It can literally be a person who has to step in and rescue YOU.

The Persecutor

This person has a tendency to put blame on others — without offering any sort of solution to the root of the problem. 

The Persecutor in Drama Triangle Puts Blame on Others
In addition, the persecutor could be life, in general:
  • society
  • political affiliation
  • circumstance
  • Covid

Because Karpman uses the term persecutor, to fully grasp this notion… I had to think of it like, 

Okay, who’s the real enemy here?

The Victim

This person sees themselves as:

  • oppressed
  • helpless
  • powerless
  • ashamed

They (usually) don’t take responsibility for their negative circumstances and refuse to accept they have a role in changing their perceived destiny.

The Drama Triangle typically involves (at a minimum) two people, but oftentimes three.

And if you’re in ANY kind of relationship now…

  • romantic
  • friendship
  • family
  • co-workers

…between you and one or two other people, I guarantee that — whether you realize it or not — you are currently in a drama triangle. 

Drama Triangle Effect Every Relationship

And the good news?

You can get out of it! 

The bad news?

You are going to have to take some culpability/responsibility. And I promise you it’s not as simple as just recognizing,

“Oh, I’m in a Drama Triangle, so I’m just gonna step on out of this!”


Because so much that comes into the roles we play are as a result of our:

  • childhood experiences
  • beliefs
  • conditioning

Please allow me to delve MUCH deeper into ALL the above, plus:

  • How the rescuer, persecutor and victim often organically swap roles in one relationship dynamic
  • The language of those with a victim mentality
  • Why recognizing you identify as a victim is helpful
  • What is the Empowerment Dynamic
  • How parents don’t realize they might be turning their kids into victims

And listen to this episode of The Chalene Show:

Don’t forget to subscribe to TCS for weekly shows dedicated to your mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing! Oh, and there’s always a little funny, too. 


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