Drama Triangle Positions: II
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….