why did I read it? I got tipped off about the Karpman drama triangle (AKA “the victim triangle”) and was blown away by how destructive and ever-present it is in all of us humans. It’s scary. We are all in a struggle against the victim triangle. Then I went looking for a way to break out of the victim triangle and this was the answer I found.
my rating: a must read for all human beings.
it’s for you if… you or someone you know has ever “played the victim”. OR you have ever found yourself blaming your current undesirable circumstances on someone or something (“it’s not my fault that …”). OR if you feel powerless or shame over events and/or broadcast your shortcomings (“I’m useless. I always do this. This always happens to me.”). OR if you feel drawn to people who are helpless so you can help them.
it’s NOT for you if… (I have no answer to this question).
would I read it again? Yes! Yearly. I read it once, than I immediately started over with a pen and paper and read it a second time and took notes.
FIRST OF ALL, THIS BOOK IS AROUND 100 PAGES LONG. Not 300. Not 200. 100. For that reason alone I believe everyone can make it thought this book. It’s also a very easy read because it’s a parable. It has 3 or 4 characters who interact and tell a small fictional story that contains the lessons the book it trying to share.
TED stands for The Empowerment Dynamic which is quite literally, the opposite of the victim triangle.
The fictional story of the book is that of a man, David, in the middle of a divorce who goes to the beach to clear his head. He bumps into an older man, Ted, who becomes a bit of a mentor. While walking along the beach, the older man shares the ideas of: the drama triangle; how we our focus drives our inner state and our behaviors; and how to break out of the drama triangle using the empowerment dynamic (which I started calling “the empowerment triangle” in my notes). About halfway through the book, a female character, Sophia, is introduce who met the old man a year ago and has already turned her life around post-divorce using Ted’s concepts and techniques. Thankfully, not even a hint of a love interest develops between David and Sophia. The book is about self understand, self reflection, and interacting with others from a healthy mindset –not about running to another person/relationship to hide from or fix your problems.
Just so it’s said out loud, this book is not targeting married couples, divorced couples, or even couples. Having both the main character and the supporting female character experience a divorce just creates an easy metaphor that fuels examples. A divorce centers around two people who were once happy but are no longer happy and likely blaming each other. That scenario allows for many real world examples of the drama/victim triangle.
The first half of the book walks through the drama/victim triangle. Even if you already know what this concept is (perhaps you skimmed the wikipedia page?) the book gives many examples of what it’s like to be drawn into and stuck in the victim triangle from each of the three roles: The Victim, The Rescuer, and The Prosecutor. I lost count of the number of times I thought, “Wow, I do that,” or “Wow, that’s how I feel about that.” For this reason alone, it’s worth reading the first half of the book even if you already know what the victim triangle is.
The book spends a little bit of time on how we think. Including how the things we specifically choose to focus on influence our inner state and then drive our behaviors. Then we learn about what the drama triangle is really focusing on which leads to all the anxiety and conflict that can spiral out of control.
Armed with that knowledge, we are introduced to the opposite concept by deciding to focus our thougths and attention on the opposite things that someone stuck in the victim triangle is focusing on. This leads to fleshing out The Empowerment Dynamic, which is also a triangle with three 1:1 roles that counter the drama triangle’s three roles.
If there was a manual for understanding ourselves and human behavior, this book would be included in it. I only wish I had discovered this book sooner. Life changing.