The Dreaded Drama Triangle Copy



The 2nd Vital Question flows right out of the 1st Vital Question. If you focus on problems and, therefore, your operating is reactive in nature, that orientation will foster and reinforce relationships at work and in life that reflect the characteristics of that way of being.

In The Power of TED*, this problem-focused mindset is actually called the Victim Orientation. Why? Because, at a minimum, we feel victimized by the problems we are reacting to and, more importantly, it feeds right into the realities of the drama that drives the DDT.

This is the first of three units that will delve into how you relate to others, how you relate to what is going on around you (your experience) and even how you relate to yourself. In this one, we introduce the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) and its toxic brew of roles and dynamics, which are firmly rooted in the Problem Orientation.

Responding to Fear

Life’s dramas – whether in various forms of entertainment or in the not-so-entertaining reality of our daily experience – involve three roles. They are the Victim (the central role) who is reacting to a Persecutor (which they see as a problem in their life) and the Rescuer (someone or something that comes to “save the day” or fix the situation). We learn these roles very early in life as ways of both protecting ourselves, as well as strategies for getting our basic survival, safety, and security needs met. The downside is that the roles, along with the problem-focused Victim Orientation, usually become so ingrained that they unconsciously become our default ways of thinking, relating, and taking action.

Review Horney’s three classifications of a child’s response to fear.

Moving toward people to please, accommodate, and be helpful. From a child’s perspective, if I please others, they will love and care for me. This is the strategy of a Rescuer.

Moving away from others to avoid, withdraw, observe, and wait. This is based upon the child’s belief that if they isolate and “stay above the fray” they will be safe. This feeds the perspective of the Victim.

Moving against others by being aggressive. Here the child develops the idea that, if they use control and domination, they will manage their environment to get what they want. This is the defensive strategy of a Persecutor.

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