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Assertiveness I: The Drama Triangle Game Chapter 4.2.6.

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Presentation on theme: "Assertiveness I: The Drama Triangle Game Chapter 4.2.6."— Presentation transcript:

1 Assertiveness I: The Drama Triangle Game Chapter 4.2.6

2 Overview This presentation explains “The Drama Triangle”, a model developed in the field of psychology to describe a very common pattern of behavior that keeps us playing games and going around in circles rather than really solving problems.

3 Being Helpful Many of us are drawn to work with DB people because we enjoy being helpful and have a sense of social justice. This is a strength. Yet, this strength overplayed becomes a weakness. When we overdo being helpful, we take-over from others inappropriately.

4 Being Nice Many of us were taught to “be nice” and not bother other people, not be pushy or self- centered. This is a strength. Again, this can be over-done. When it is overdone, a ‘nice’ person does not take care of their own needs. Yet, SSPs get tired, need to use the restroom, and so on. To ignore these needs is not healthy.

5 Self-Care Similarly, self-care is a virtue but this too can be overdone. When we defend our boundaries and guard our own space over-zealously, we can cross the boundaries of others or act in an aggressive way.

6 Drama When we let feelings carry us away and don’t focus on a problem analytically, we get all upset and there ensues “drama”. Feelings or emotions should be a signal to think through the problem: – If cold, turn up the heat, get a jacket, etc. – If worried about paying bills, get a raise, take more work, cut back on spending, etc. Sometimes we would rather enjoy the drama.

7 Karpman & Steiner There is a model of interaction called “The Drama Triangle” This model was developed by Stephen Karpman and further developed by Claude Steiner, who applied it to dysfunctional relationships as interpreted by Eric Berne (Transactional Analysis). This model has been extremely helpful for interpreters and SSPs.

8 Conscious The Drama Triangle (DT) ‘game’ is so prevalent in society that it is present in virtually every group or class. The goal here is not to criticize (punish or persecute) ourselves for engaging in it, but to become conscious and change.

9 The Drama Triangle

10 The theory of the Drama Triangle is that there are three basic roles to most ‘dramas’. The classic roles are: – Victim – Persecutor – Rescuer Think of the dramas we see in the movies, in books, and so on: the bad guy, the victim and the good guy.

11 Game These ‘dramas’ are interesting, keep us engaged, and get our adrenalin going. Unfortunately, the roles also keep us ‘play- acting’and not being genuinely ourselves. We also do not solve the underlying problems. There are real victims and rescuers. The Drama Triangle is about pseudo-victims and rescuers, when we solve the problems of others that they can solve themselves.

12 3 Roles When we are too nice (Rescuer) or feel helpless (Victim) for too long, we get angry and seek pay-back – and become a Persecutor. The Persecutor hurts the other. While there are three roles, the game is often played with just two people who interchange roles (Rescuer-Persecutor / Victim-Persecutor).


14 Passive-Aggressive We may triangulate, bringing in a third party. By whining and complaining to others, we both act as a (pseudo)-Victim and punish the offender (Persecutor) at the same time. We may make sarcastic comments that are meant to be humorous on the surface but also intended to hurt.

15 For Example The SSP is always late (pseudo-Victim). The DB person says nothing (Rescuer). After months of this, the DB person takes longer and longer to do the tasks, making the SSP late on the other end (Persecutor).

16 Another Example The DB person has a guide-dog, but does not pick up the dog’s waste even when they are in public places (Victim). The SSP says nothing & picks up the poop, even though this is odious to him (Rescuer). Eventually, the SSP tells the coordinator he will not work with that DB person any more (passive-aggressive).

17 Assertiveness as Problem Solving

18 Feeling vs. Problem Solving Every time we get stuck in our feelings without thinking about what the problem is, or who owns the problem (whose problem is it?), we are playing a game. Every time we complain about our problem – instead of looking for a solution – we are playing this game. Feelings should prompt us to think and problem-solve.

19 Personal Problems vs. Systemic Problems

20 Some problems are small and personal (e.g. “I’m taking too much work, I need to re-think my schedule”). Other problems are big and societal (e.g. unemployment, the education system, or no regular financial support for SSP services).

21 Solutions When the problems are personal or inter- personal we can solve them ourselves with the help of our friends. When they are societal, we must work together to solve them. What is not helpful is getting stuck in the Drama Triangle, playing a game.

22 Mixed Models are pure while reality is mixed. A DB person maybe both a real victim of a lack of resources as well as play Victim by not participating in efforts to resolve this lack of resources.

23 Example An elderly DB woman is finding it increasingly difficult to live independently. She complains (Victim) to her SSP. The SSP volunteers more often, trying to help (Rescue) and complains to other SSPs that the agency serving her does nothing (Persecutor). Clearly, this depends on interpretation. Is the DB woman ‘complaining’ as Victim, or asking for time to problem-solve?

24 Self-Reflection Think about the times you have done more than you really wanted to, have felt taken advantage of, played Victim, gossiped or ‘gone-off’ on someone inappropriately. What would have been a better, healthier approach?

25 Discussion Take a break, get into groups and discuss what you have just learned. Does it make sense? How does it fit with your experiences? Do you sometimes play this game in your family?

26 Discussion Part II How might this game play out in an SSP-DB person relationship? Without revealing confidential or private information, talk about your experiences (or the experiences of others that you know about) relating to SSP work.

27 Conclusion It is critical that SSPs become assertive vs. Rescuing or taking over for DB people. On the other hand, there is no conflict in providing information to DB people that they can use to solve their own problems. It is not a conflict to volunteer when it will not cause undue hardship on the SSP. Assertiveness is mutually respectful.

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