Drama triangle and its drives

We are all aware of the drama triangle model, the persecutor, rescuer and victim process and how that interplays with the parent, adult and child model. When in child mode it associates with the victim, as both don’t take any responsibility for their position.

Well, when you encounter this in the counselling room, it’s sometimes hard to put this awareness of the dynamic across to the client. When I am working with this dynamic I find it’s easier for the client to look at these models through a manipulation and control lens, as the victim/child is trying to manipulate the other person into occupying one of the two opposing functions of perpetrator and rescuer. The emotional drive to change the person from the perpetrator to the rescuer role is guilt and this allows the perpetrator, as the victim sees them or manipulates them to be, to accept the opposing role of rescuer. This is due to the stimulated feeling of guilt being generated by the victim in order for the perpetrator to feel sorry for the victim. The victim has control of the pendulum and they swing it from perpetrator to rescuer using guilt as a drive to shift the position for the other person.

Guilt is a powerful driver and makes us all look with sympathy on the person exerting that emotional response in us, as such it doesn't really enter into our heads that we are being controlled but directly reacts to our human empathic process. In order to change this we have to try to get the client who is in this perpetrator position to stop taking responsibility as the rescuer and give responsibility to the victim to enable them to move to the adult position.

If the victim refuses to accept this offering, then a decision has to be taken as to remain in the triangle as perpetrator/rescuer or detach from the victim as without taking responsibility, the victim in any process stops them from growing, changing or moving forward.

The victim will always remain the victim without owning responsibility.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

Share this article with a friend

Written by Ian Wallace MBACP Reg

Ian is a specialist on human relationships, having over 8000 hours of face to face work over the last 15 years. He gets to the heart of the problem quickly and helps people to understand "why they do what they do". He also Teaches on this subject.… Read more

Written by Ian Wallace MBACP Reg

Show comments

Find the right counsellor or therapist for you

All therapists are verified professionals.