- Date: 15th century
- 1 : a living being sacrificed to a deity or in the performance of a religious rite
- 2 : one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent <the schools are victims of the social system>: as a (1) : one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions <a victim of cancer> <a victim of the auto crash> <a murder victim> (2) : one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment <a frequent victim of political attacks> b : one that is tricked or duped <a con man's victim>
The drama triangle is a psychological and social model of human interaction in transactional analysis (TA) first described by Stephen Karpman, which has become widely used in psychology and psychotherapy.
The model posits three habitual psychological roles (or roleplays) which people often take in a situation:
- The person who is treated as, or accepts the role of, a victim
- The person who pressures, coerces or persecutes the victim, and
- The rescuer, who intervenes out of an ostensible wish to help the situation or the underdog.
(Note that the rescuer role is one of a mixed or covert motive, not an honest rescuer in an emergency; see below)
As the drama plays out, people may suddenly switch roles, or change tactics, and others will often switch unconsciously to match this. For example, the victim turns on the rescuer, or the rescuer switches to persecuting.
The covert purpose for each 'player' is to get their unspoken psychological wishes met in a manner they feel justified, without having to acknowledge the broader dysfunction or harm done in the situation as a whole. As such, each player is acting upon their own selfish 'needs', rather than acting in a genuinely adult, responsible or altruistic manner.
In TA, the drama triangle is sometimes referred to in the context of mind games such as: – Why Don't You/Yes But; If It Weren't For You; Why does this Always Happen to Me?; See What You Made Me Do; You Got Me Into This; Look How Hard I've Tried; I'm Only Trying to Help You; and Let's You and Him Fight.