The Victim Triangle

As a psychotherapist, I am often asked what my theoretical foundation is. Sure, regular folks don’t ask this question. They usually ask me what theory or theories have helped me and my clients. This week I will devote to the theory that changed my life and has been very successful with my clients.

The Victim Is On Top

The Victim Triangle.

Transactional Analysis (TA) is an integrative system of therapy that uses some psychoanalytic, cognitive and humanist theories as the basis of a theory of personality and therapeutic system. TA has many theories within it that stress game theory. The idea is that we interact with others with certain systems of communication and ways of being that have their origins in our upbringing. One of these theories is Karpman’s Drama Triangle which is also referred to as the Victim Triangle.

The idea is that one of the most common forms of transactions between people (and many times within us) is the victim triangle. The triangle consists of 3 ways of being: Victim, Rescuer and Persecutor. The terms are self-explanatory but we will get more in-depth on each position during the week.

Look at the following scenario as a good example of the victim triangle:

Husband picks the kids up from soccer and gets home to find Wife in the kitchen making dinner. He starts to complain that he is so tired after a day of work and is pissed that he had to pick up the kids. He goes and grabs a beer from the fridge and pulls out some cheese and deli meat to make a sandwich. Wife reminds him that she is making dinner and it should be ready with ½ an hour. Husband begins to argue that he works all day and missed lunch because he had so much to do and the least his wife could do is pick up the kids and have dinner ready at a decent time. The wife begins to cry and starts to say things like ‘I can’t do anything right’ and ‘no one helps me’. The kids hear the argument and come in the kitchen and explain to their father how Mom also works and she had picked them up, helped them with their homework and take them to soccer even though she had a deadline and now is getting dinner ready and he should be ashamed of himself because she works so hard. Dad starts yelling about how now ‘he’s the bad guy’ and ‘no one stands up for him’ and grabs another beer. Now Mom turns to the kids and begins to reprimand them for yelling at their Dad that works so hard for them and how ungrateful they are.

Does anything here sound familiar?

Come back tomorrow and we will discuss the Victim.

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