Persecutor, victim, rescuer – which one are you? If you're a principal, my guess is you already think you know.
Today we're looking at the Karpman Drama Triangle (KDT), a simple and useful model for tracking conflicts. Family settings, workplace settings and classroom settings – the core behaviours that the KDT covers are represented everywhere.
Understanding the triangle can help you not just identify roles or behaviours in a conflict, but also find your way out of them into a healthier environment.
What is the Karpman Drama Triangle?
The Karpman Drama Triangle has three points – persecutor, victim and rescuer. Created by Stephen B. Karpman, he wanted to simplify the complex emotions and roles that come about during interpersonal conflict.
The roles are simple:
The persecutor lays blame. They tend to be authoritative, set in their ways and prone to anger. They often target victims, or create new ones around them. Key phrase: “This is your fault.”
The victim receives blame. They struggle to make decisions, often need the help of others and feel powerless – particularly when dealing with a persecutor or rescuer. Key phrase: “I can't do anything right!”
The rescuer loves to save the day. They will fix problems for the victim, often feeling guilt if they're not helping. However, they typically do this at the expense of the victim's autonomy. Key phrase: "Please let me help you.”