Drama Triangles

Sunday Blog 3. 12th September 2021 – winnowings from this week’s readings

This week there have been several books on the go, but Martha Beck’s latest book The Way of Integrity has been the one that has dominated, both in written and audio form. If you have never read anything she has written, you might want to check her out. Martha Beck is funny but she’s also hugely well-educated.

This latest book uses Dante Aligheri’s 1300s masterpiece The Divine Comedy as a timeless parable, still relevant today. Martha explores the simple premise that suffering comes when we act out of integrity – pretending we are who we aren’t, doing things to please others, living our whole lives on someone else’s pattern. When we act with integrity, suffering disappears. “Know what you really know, feel what you really feel, say what you really mean, and do what you really want.” (The Way of Integrity, page 191)

Theory, practice and stories are threaded together skilfully in this hugely readable book. It includes anecdotes of her coaching clients as well as stories from her own life to elucidate meaning. While you don’t need to have read them to enjoy this book, her two memoirs of a) finding out she was pregnant with a Downs Syndrome child, and b) leaving the Mormon Church are also highly recommended.

There are many many gems in the book, both comic and wise but it is the review of Karpman’s Drama Triangle that stars in this Sunday Blog. I hadn’t heard of the Drama Triangle prior to encountering Martha Beck’s work, but it’s easy enough to google. Or I can just add it below:

From Wikimedia Commons – the work of David Emerald who created The Empowerment Dynamic

All of us can unconsciously choose the Persecutor-Victim-Rescuer triangle and chase ourselves around and around and around. Or as Martha says;

If you’re feeling wildly masochistic and want to create a drama triangle of your very own, it’s as easy as pie. Just choose a target of blame and cast yourself as the victim. Then sit back and relax, confident that the anger, arguments, cowering and threatening will go on forever unless you choose another course of action. (The Way of Integrity, page 183)

We can also free ourselves from this unconscious dynamic by just accepting that we are free to make our own choices. Martha suggests the provocative question in this blog’s top image – are we absolutely sure that we have no options whatsoever, that we are to forever be a victim?

Getting out of a triangle drama is also simple, though not easy. It hinges on one act of integrity: acknowledging that we’re capable of choosing our responses to other people and situations, no matter what. (The Way of Integrity, page 183)

Creativity, Martha advises, is the opposite of violence, and the way out of the Persecutor, Victim and Rescuer triangle. The Victim becomes Creator, the Persecutor becomes the Challenger and the Rescuer becomes the Coach.

So while I do hope you get to read Martha’s books, just in case you don’t this is a summarised gift of the way out of unproductive drama.

Now to see if I can really sign up to the book’s No Lie Challenge….

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  1. I read Beck’s memoir Leaving the Saints and found it gripping and the story of her abuse and the religious elements so disturbing. I shall contemplate your summary of the drama triangle.

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