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Playing the Rescuer Role

We continue to explore the roles we play in conflict based on Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle. The last role, that of rescuer, is one I find many people gravitate to. It sounds heroic and helpful and altruistic.


It’s not.


In this case, the rescuer's role is really like that of an enabler. The rescuer doesn’t have a role without a victim, so the rescuer has a vested interest in keeping the victim as a victim. The rescuer needs a persecutor they can stand up to on behalf of the victim. The rescuer likes to be helpful and to protect and those are good qualities but because doing that requires both a victim and persecutor, the rescuer ends up keeping the conflict going – so not helpful it turns out.

Why does the rescuer do it? Some say their strong need to help drives them, even though they don’t really end up helping. Still there’s a payoff in telling yourself you are helping. I’ve seen quite a few people who use their rescuer role to wade into the problems of others and this actually allows them to avoid looking at their own. Hmmm, interesting…


The rescuer has to move out of enabling to actually helping by stepping into a coaching role. If you remember my mama drama, it became clear to me that I had to stop looking for my two brothers, my rescuers, to stop running interference and stop trying to broker peace between my mother and I. I needed them to coach and support me as I formulated and put into action a plan to stop playing the victim.


Thankfully, I was successful in stepping off the triangle. They were able to stop being rescuers and get themselves off the triangle. And my mother, well, you can’t play a persecutor when there’s no victim.


This ONE thing of getting drama free has changed everything in my life. How could your life be better if you stepped off the triangle?


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