you're reading...

HOW TO STOP PLAYING THE GAME – What to do if you find yourself in a Drama Triangle

HOW TO STOP PLAYING THE GAME -What to do if you find yourself in a Drama Triangle

Conflict is likely to emerge when clear roles, boundaries and structures are either not present or disappear. Where there is conflict the drama triangle is not far away whether be it at work, between friends, in the family or on the world stage.

Based on the concept of Transactional Analysis devised by Eric Berne in the 1960’s and outlined in his book Games People Play, the approach looks at human interaction in terms of Parent, Adult, Child states and suggest that we play games to get our needs for attention met.

Berne identified over 30 games but some of the most popular and descriptive ones are

  • Alcoholic
  • Addict
  • Ain’t it Awful
  • Blemish
  • Debtor
  • Kick me
  • If it weren’t for you
  • I was only trying to help you
  • Look how hard I’ve tried
  • Now I’ve got you son of a bitch
  • See what you made me do
  • Wooden leg

In 1968 Stephen Karpman further developed the concept of game theory by introducing the idea of the Drama Triangle and suggesting that when people pay games they operate from one of three positions Persecutor ( Critical or Controlling Parent) Rescuer (Nurturing Parent) and Victim ( Helpless of Adapted Child)

The Persecutor  – An Aggressor with the unconscious slogan  ‘I can make you feel bad’

The Rescuers – An apparently nice and helpful person with the unconscious slogan ‘ I can make you feel good’

Both Persecutor and Rescuer positions are played from the ‘One up’ or I’m ok you’re not ok’ position.

A person is rescuing when he or she is

  • Doing something they don’t want to do
  • Doing something they have not been asked to do
  • Is doing more than 50% of the work
  • Is not asking for what he/she wants

The Victim – An apparently helpless, hopeless and powerless person who gives his or her power to others with the unconscious slogan ‘you can make me feel good or bad’

All of us play games and all of us play from a preferred starting position. Games can be fairly innocuous or for people with a tendency to play more dangerous games can escalate into murder.





What is it that happens over and over again?


How does it start?


Then what happens?


What happens next?


How does it end?


How do you feel when it ends

How may others feel when it ends?


Getting out of a game can be difficult since the more you fight to get out of it the more you may dig yourself deeper. This guide should help you to give up this destructive and non productive pattern.

Step One

First of all we need to be aware that we are in a dysfunctional triangle and recognise our tendency to be here. We must also feel dissatisfied enough about the situation for it to be worthwhile to provoke a change and risk temporary discomfort in ourselves and the other players.

Step Two

We need to put some distance between ourselves and the situation in order to clearly identify the role each player is playing – this is called the observer or meta- position

Step Three

Mentally analyse the situation by using a number of possible strategies ie humour, search for positive intentions behind behaviours, realising that both are caught in the game, realising that you are no better or worse than anybody else.

Step Four

Disengage – notice the hook and do nothing. Step out of the drama. Respond from your adult – make different decisions/choices. Allow people to sort out there own problems. Stop trying to blame others and take responsibility for yourself and no one else.

Step Five

If appropriate share your observations with the other players





No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: