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  Home  > Helping Professionals  > Drama Triangle Positions: II

Drama Triangle Positions: II

Rescuer

This position is the key to the burnout problem because much Rescuing is socially condoned and even expected of those in the helping professions. Like the Persecutor, the attitude of someone dramatizing this role is "I’m ok, you’re not ok," with the additional, "You are so inadequate that I have to take care of you." As in the Persecutor position, Rescuers see themselves as better than those they are trying to Rescue, and derive comfort from being "more ok."

Even though we each have our favorite corners of the triangle from which we start to play a game, we don’t remain fixed in any one of these roles. When the switch comes, Rescuers’ illusions of ok-ness dissolve as they suddenly become Victims. Here is an example of how the roles may switch in a medical setting.

Dr. Jones, while stitching up Mr. Smith’s laceration, tells him that he should stop smoking. She gives him a prescription for the local stop-smoking clinic. Dr. Jones is in the Rescuer’s role because Mr. Smith didn’t ask for this information. He already knows he should stop and does not believe that Dr. Jones can help him.

Mr. Smith goes home, throws the stop-smoking clinic address in the wastebasket and complains: "For the price she charges she could just give me a pill to stop smoking." He bad mouths her to others and doesn’t pay his bill (switches from Victim to Persecutor).

A few weeks later, Dr. Jones, while going over her accounts receivable, notices Smith’s non-payment, groans to herself about deadbeats and decides to take on an extra shift in the emergency room to make up for her declining income (switches from Rescuer to Victim - the burnout dynamic).

Months later, Mr. Smith develops an acute hangnail attack on a holiday weekend and calls Dr. Jones’ answering service (switches from Persecutor to Victim). Dr. Jones, paged during a difficult putt on the 4th green, swears and tells her answering service to send him to an emergency room (switches from Victim to Persecutor). And so it goes….




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