3 Personas of Dirty Communication

Drama.
It surrounds us, sometimes ceaselessly. Our personal drama comes from many angles: texts, passive-aggressive instagram posts, ‘supportive’ comments on facebook. It can sidetrack us and consume us. We are biological predisposed to flock to it, with its stimulation and problem solving.
Stephen Karpman, a famous psychologist, developed a social model (The Karpman Drama Triangle) to explain the roles that we habitually fill during interpersonal drama. His goal was to point out that we quickly assume 1 of 3 positions in interpersonal situations, which each tend in their own way to be manipulative and perpetuating of the drama itself:

The Victim

Sees themselves as ‘at the effect of people’ and can be helpless to the world around them. Everything is happening to them, rather than because of them. Little to no power.

The Villain

Is all blame. It needs a single answer, and lacks any kind of curiosity or empathy. Something happened, and it’s somebody’s fault.

The Hero

Finds temporary ways to fill the void and make the feels go away. Drifts and distractions are important in order to block what is actually present.

The reason each of these roles are tempting and tend to perpetuate is that they give us a sense of power.
The “Victim” is when you are feeling victimized. You feel powerless and oppressed. Deep inside, they often harbor a sense of shame. Self-pitying and helplessness show themselves in the form of complaining or needing constant support. When we become the Victim, we get to claim innocence, claim the attention and care of our Hero, and avoid the responsibility over our own lives and circumstances.
Often Victims will identify a “Villian”, a person responsible for their suffering. When we are being the Villain, we become angry, spiteful, strict, unempathetic, or indifferent to others. When we become the Villain we control the factors of the drama, feeling superior and powerful.
Lastly, the “Hero” is also buddy to the “Victim”, lifting themselves us by ‘saving’ another. Heros can sometimes have good intentions, but actually perpetuate the drama triangle by affirming the role of the Victim. Depending on how they ‘save’ the Victim, they may keep them stuck as such, and glorify themselves as coming to the rescue. When we become the Hero we feel superior to the Victim and Villain by a sense of righteous anger or empathy. Heroes can also avoid their own conflicts by focusing on the conflicts of others.

The 3 Antidotes

Luckily, there are some tricks to breaking this self-perpetuating drama triangle. Each persona has its own unique counter persona that may be of help in re-framing, reworking, and ending the cycle of unresolved drama.

The Creator

The creator responds to problems by focusing on solutions. With thoughtful evaluation and choice/action towards a particular outcome, the creator breaks the loop of reactionary problem tunnel vision.

The Challenger

The Challenger encourages learning and taking next steps. Building up rather than putting down, the challenger is focused on growth as an opportunity and an invitation.

The Coach

The Coach offers encouragement and support to Victims, preserving their autonomy and helping them create a vision. The coach is empowering and safe, not a rescuer.

The key to each of these antidotes is again power. Responsibility is sought after. It is encouraged in others. Breaking the cycle of the drama triangle, these counter personas seek to empower ourselves and others. They foster responsibility and creativity in facing problems at hand in a productive way.

Creators turn the Victim role’s false power into outcome-oriented power.
Challengers empower the Victim (or Creator) with truth, even if it’s painful to do so.
Coaches see Victims as Creators, enhancing their responsibility and ownership of a situation and focusing them on what they do want.

You can learn more about what it means to empower ourselves to the fullest by reading about another Freedom Enabler, 100% Responsibility:

And if you like, keep poking around within these pages on Clean Communication. You’ll find many enlightening resources on the Tools page, memorable musings in Meditations, and clarifying starting points in Clean Communication vs. Compassionate Communication: