November 6, 2015

are you in the drama triangle?


The other day I had a EUREKA moment when I connected what I see in support environments with what happens in advocacy environments -- and in our little eating disorder parent advocacy world the two are often the same -- with the models represented in this diagram.

You can read about Karman's Drama Triangle and The Empowerment Dynamic here, and I hope you do. What I want to say to my fellow advocates is that progress in the field is best done outside the Drama Triangle, which is really an emotional trap. It's ego and being right and wanting to be a rescuer but it invariably ends up making us into persecutors or being seen as persecutors, and I think it creates more and more victims and it doesn't WORK.

The point of advocacy is progress for the field.

The Empowerment Dynamic represents the best of advocacy AND creating supportive peer environments for caregivers. It embodies the way, ideally, parents can make it about outcomes and to KEEP OUR PASSION. I see too many advocates and mentors burn out or become embittered, and only a few stay in the "Passion-Based Outcome-Focused" range. I see too many of us succumb to personal attacks or feeling unappreciated or disliked. These dynamics only serve to keep us divided and off track.

In fact, I think the Drama Triangle may have been invented by ED! And that makes sense, too, *duh* ,because it is anxiety-based. I'm seeing that the future of parent advocacy and of shared ED advocacy is in the top triangle, where the best parenting and the best peer support is to be found!

Thoughts?

11 comments:

  1. The irony does not escape. Drama's will always exist within advocacy groups as it is only human nature to want to be heard and recognized. That ED plays an underlying part is not surprising and gives pause to truly think about that...

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  2. Wow, is this timely! And validating! And what I've been trying to understand lately - why on earth is there so much conflict in the midst of the passion of doing good work for a critically important cause?! Why are so many stuck in the Drama Triangle? And how do we move the focus into the Empowerment Dynamic before we get burned out just from the conflict amongst the advocates?! I get my energy from seeing progress of the carers, sufferers and by working together and encouraging the encouragers.

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  3. Here, here! How true your words are. I LOVE drama, but as an actress. So I prefer to leave it for the stage and ON the stage. In my perfect world imagery, if we could pack all our criticism of others, anger, need to be right, and past issues into a tightly sealed box and store it in the attic...maybe then we can together keep our eyes on the task and forge ahead in unity! I'm striving for that.

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    1. I love the idea of the box - but I'd rather throw it out to sea or into the fire to destroy it.

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  4. It's really amazing how this diagram helps me identify where I've gone wrong and where my best efforts have been. It identifies some issues that keep nagging at me.

    It doesn't ask us to back off, be patient, or sing Kumbaya. It asks us to get back to what works, and to accept the drama triangle of others without taking responsibility for it or fixing it. Some people are just stuck, and they strike out. Others are just trying to get stuff done creatively and care less about the who than the what. I want to operate in the higher triangle and resist the succors of the bottom one!

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    1. Some people are just stuck because they don't believe there is any other way, or quite frankly, don't truly WANT out of the drama. I'm with you Laura, and if you see me in the lower triangle, please call me out!

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  5. May I look at myself critically to see the "lower triangle" in me, and may I always hope and strive to live/move in the upper triangle. Thanks for sharing, Laura!

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  6. it's very easy to dwell in the lower half of the diagram - with thoughts of "humph, well how does the empahsis on mobilising the parents' anxiety in FBT work with that?" I am (un)happily plunging myself down to the victim role right now!

    I find the simplicity of the wikki article extremely useful and it is helping me at this minute climb back up into the top half of the diagram. Is there any way we can add to it to ensure that wikipedia keeps it up there broadly as it is, nice and simple?

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    1. Good point. With concepts like this that have no real owner once they're conceived, it is up to all of us to both document and maintain it. It's funny to me how in the past few days since I happened on that paradigm it has reframed interaction after interaction, and I'm looking back in time and thinking "Oh, THAT is why that didn't work!" "Oh! I see where I went wrong there!" "Oh, that was NEVER going to work!"

      If those of us who find these triangles helpful keep talking about them I believe we can make some progress!!

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    2. Bringing this paradigm to the forefront of conscious thought is an excellent beginning. I recall, vividly, feeling tremendous admiration of Dr. Ruth Sullivan and her calm and rational approach to her advocacy work in autism. I do remember her stories and there were some real bumps in the road. I have noticed so much change in the past 4.5+ years and a constant new arrival of more advocates with the pioneers passing on their wisdom. In the end, that is what will help to progress us forward in addition to falling back on the Drama Triangle paradigm to, perhaps, keep ourselves in check.

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  7. PS here is the blog post that got me going on this topic:
    http://lifehacker.com/how-you-can-ditch-the-victim-mentality-and-become-empow-1738077671

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