As Bill Hoffman states in his book, “The Process,” “Anyone or anything that controls our emotions imprisons us.” This control is dysfunctional and lends itself to bondage. It’s destructive, and ultimately, it’s slavery to runaway emotions, whims, and notions of yourself and others. That doesn’t sound very appealing, and yet so many get caught in this trap. What’s worse is its deceptive nature because, according to “The New Codependency” by Melodie Beattie, it’s the expression of our normal God-created behaviors taken too far. On the granular level, it is our temperament “needs” being met through destructive means. Or, to better explain this, as Bill talks about, “we are meeting the “needs” of our “trauma”, not our genuine needs.
There is a dynamic that occurs in some codependent relationships that wreak havoc for all those involved. It is called “The Karpman Drama Triangle.” The three roles played out in this triangle are the victim, the rescuer, and the persecutor.
Those within the triangular trap move from one role to the next, attempting to find safety in life and gain control of pain and tension. It manifests as a “crazy cycle”, moving from one role to the next, attempting to get “needs met” by unhealthy means, which push our temperament spectrums into the weakness areas. It’s a parasitic means of survival created within these toxic relationships. The players have no compass to point them to functional relationship ideology, such as; boundaries, interdependence, accepting others where they are at, or allowing natural consequences to mature others. All involved lose in one way or another.
The Victim: Finds opportunities in relationships to transfer their responsibilities onto the other person so they can avoid the need of facing the tension and pain these responsibilities may cause. Therefore, they lose the opportunity to gain the necessary skills and confidence to mature.
The Rescuer: Offers “help,” which in reality is quite damaging, as it’s a convoluted attempt to gain control of the other. They create space for dependency on them, thereby stripping the victim of maturing through the pressures presented in life situations.
The Persecutor: Also known as the controller, overlooks boundaries using dogmatic terms such as “you should”, bringing forth accusations and guilt. Coercion, and perhaps gaslighting are the tools they use to achieve their controlling position over others.
It can be a very subtle dynamic. Recently, I recognized being lured into this trap. A person who made very poor choices in life ended up homeless. My husband and I assisted him with some of the basic needs. Not long after we “rescued” him, he began making “suggestions” of how we SHOULD conduct our lives (persecution). Now we could become the victim of his accusations and find ourselves in need of rescue; that is if we had taken the bait. It’s sheer madness! Without the insight and healing we have gained over the years; this cycle would continue and have terrible consequences for all in the triangle.
Calling on a mentor or counselor is vital to help sort through all the smoke and mirrors by pinpointing the dynamics of what is taking place and bring “aha” moments to our relationships. You gain valuable understanding and solutions through a proven process that has successfully transformed others from these dysfunctional roles. If you are not in process on some level, you may well likely be unaware, and be sucked into this, or any other type of dysfunctional enmeshment.
God, (a higher power),can give you insight in sustaining the changes, when you stop “leaning on your own understanding” and begin to rely on God’s wisdom. He has a birds-eye view of our situations and desires what is best for us. He can lead us into the healing path so that our relationships and opportunities can blossom. We will find we no longer need fall prey to being the rescuer, victim, or persecutor.
Source: Kenneth A. Schmidt/AA/Adapted by Anita Arrunategui and Bill Hoffman
EIS Counselor: Anita Arrunategui/Images: Canva Pro