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Natural Awakenings Healthy Living Magazine

Moving from Victim to Creator

The dramas we watch and the fairy tales we were told as children have three major characters: the victim (helpless damsel in distress, person done wrong); the villain (big bad wolf, serial killer, thief, cancer or other illness, environmental disaster); and the hero (person, substance, god or situation) that rescues the victim, giving temporary relief to their inner state of anxiety. Dr. Stephen Karpman, the only person to have won the Eric Berne Memorial Scientific Award in Transactional Analysis twice, named these three characters Victim, Rescuer and Persecutor in the 1960s. and called it the Karpman Drama Triangle.

            Although we play all three roles, which in an instant can switch dramatically within this dysfunctional drama triangle, there is a tendency to lean more toward one role than the others. This preference can be seen in our behavior as children. Each of us developed one of three ways of dealing with fear and getting our survival needs met. These strategies were developed by German psychoanalyst Karen Horney.

            Move toward others to please, accommodate, appease and be helpful, with the aim of receiving the love and care they need. These children grow to be rescuers.

            Move away from others to avoid, withdraw, observe, isolate and wait, staying above the chaos to be safe. These children grow up to be victims.

            Move against others to dominate and control. This defensive strategy is what creates the bully, attacker and verbal abuser. These children grow up to be persecutors.

            David Emerald, in his book The Power of TED, suggests an antidote to what he calls our default Dreaded Drama Triangle. It is The Empowerment Dynamic (TED). In that mode, the victim becomes a creator. Instead of being helpless, incapable and disempowered, they are creative, resilient and capable of learning and growing. The persecutor becomes a challenger, nudging the creator into discovery of their desired outcome and vision for their life.

            The rescuer becomes a coach that believes the creator (previously the victim) is capable, can learn and grow from the situation for lifelong improvement, not just the quick fix of the rescuer that masks the deeper, unmet needs of the creator.

            We have all suffered in the Drama Triangle, no matter which roles we have played. Most importantly, we have the choice to be a creator instead of a victim with practice and self-awareness. This is where the wisdom of a coach can be helpful.

            The world would be a much lighter, brighter and more loving place if we each made the choice to come out of the darkness of the victim/rescuer/persecutor triangle and entered into the empowerment and joy of the creator/coach/challenger dynamic.

            By choosing to be a creator in our own lives, we awaken to our passion, purpose and joy of living in an energy that increases planetary light and love. The effort we put into our inner work journey is well worth the effort when we become the transformational creator in our own story.

Julie Chai is an ordained Presbyterian minister, spiritual director, intuitive, Inner Work facilitator and artist, offering clairvoyant readings and healings and workshops. For more information, email [email protected] or visit or