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Aug 242013
 

DramaTriangle

One of my favorite books, and it is an old stand by, is Games People Play, the Psychology of Human Relationships,  by Dr. Eric Berne., MD.

Dr. Berne looks at how we behave in our interactions with others. One of the comments about the book on the jacket says:

“Most people, in most of their family and business relationships, are constantly playing games with each other. What’s more they are striving—often unconsciously—for an emotional payoff which is startlingly different from what they might rationally expect to get from winning or losing their game.”Berne goes on to describe how we as humans have a stimulus hunger, and that our social interactions are part of meeting that, however,  “games” are not “fun” per se but they do give us a pay off by meeting our needs for stimulus via interactions with others.

Children are taught “manners” by their parents and these vary from culture to culture, and when a given person violates those precepts there is usually a sanction for doing so.  Rituals such as shaking hands are taught, we must structure our time as well and there are “pastimes” for doing that, there are “games” and “intimacy” as well as “activities.” The goals in life are for each member to gain as much satisfaction from his transactions with other as possible. People who seek after negative consequences (unconsciously) may not see their “pay off” of going to prison, or suicide as a “win” but they are a pay off.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle

There are three basic positions in a game, they are the Persecutor, the Rescuer, and the Victim. However while a person may have a favorite position to play, the roles are actually interchangeable as the game progresses. Every game is  dishonest, with ulterior motives and a pay off. The outcome is dramatic, as distinct from merely exciting. “Operations” are where one honestly asks for something, such as reassurance, and gets it. If the person then turns it around where it is a disadvantage to the giver, then it was a game. So games can be covert or overt.

Here is one example from an alcoholic man and his wife, the game is “alcoholic.”

He comes home drunk after having spent all the week’s pay (in this part, he is the persecutor or abuser. She is the victim. So if you think of it like musical chairs with each person going to another chair when the music stops, here it goes.

Now she becomes angry and starts to berate him for spending all their money on booze. Now she is in the Persecutor chair and HE is the Victim of her abuse. Well this goes on for a while and he is tired of being the victim,, so he punches her in the mouth. Now they a e back to the original position of him being the persecutor and her the victim. Now she calls the cops and the cop comes in as the Rescuer and saves the poor victim by hauling him off to jail. As he hauls the man off to jail he becomes the Persecutor and the drunk man is the Victim again.

The next day the wife goes down and hocks her wedding ring to bail her husband out, she is the rescuer now, saving the husband from the nasty old cops. They go home and she starts to berate him because she had to hock her wedding ring, so she is no longer the Rescuer but the persecutor and her husband is the victim. Of course he gets tired of her yapping and hits her in the mouth again…and the music continues with both of them feeling “justified” in their positions.

The “drama triangle” is an intricate part of all games, and any time you are involved in this drama triangle you are involved in a “game.”

My personal favorite positions were Victim and Rescuer…but I admit I also did plenty of time in the Persecutor chair. I guess because I protest Patrick’s parole and feel justified in doing so I am still persecuting him, at least from his point of view.

Some of the names of the games in Berne’s book are pretty funny really, but the game itself isn’t. “If it Weren’t for You” is one game where someone blames someone else because they can’t do X.“Debtor”, “Try and get away with it”, “Kick me” “Now I’ve got you you SOB” “See what you made me do?” “Frigid Woman/Man” “Look how hard I’ve tried.” “Ain’t it awful?” “Blemish” “Why don’t you..yes, but…”

“Why don’t you..yes, but…” is one of my “favorite” games  and I’ve been hooked into playing it many times  because I like to be a “rescuer.”  You may also be familiar with it. Someone asks you for advice on some problem with their life, and you make a suggestion at their request. Of course they respond with, “that’s a good idea, but I can’t do it because….” The game continues with you making new suggestions until finally you are out of suggestions and the person has “won” the game by putting down all your suggestions with “yes, but…” Of course the “pay off” for your friend is knocking down your every idea, and the pay off for you is that you tried to help her but couldn’t. So your pay off is negative and her’s is positive.

When we get involved in “enabling” someone, i.e. doing for them what they should do for themselves but won’t, or shouldering the consequences of their bad decisions and choices, we become frustrated when we have “tried and tried” to help them and they are no better off than before. Enabling is a game in which the “helper” person always gets abused and gets pithed off for the effort they have put in to no benefit. Just as the alcoholic’s wife hocked her ring instead of letting him stay in jail, then became angry at him again. Jesus had the perfect answer to this “game” when He said “loan and expect no repayment, give and expect nothing in return.” It is the expecting gratitude or repayment that gets us into trouble. So if I loan someone some money  I only loan what I can afford to lose and if the person repays me, fine, if not fine. By not expecting a return, I can see quickly  what the person is, and if in the future I want to trust them to keep their word.

The next time they request a loan I may remind them that they didn’t repay the last one so there is no more forthcoming. If I give someone something I don’t expect them to be beholden to me for it, it is a gift, not an advance payment for gratitude. If there is gratitude, fine, if not fine as well.

All game playing precludes real intimacy and real honesty. It is only by recognizing what a game is and becoming aware if we are engaged in a game that we can learn to be truly intimate with those in our circle. Sometimes people are so invested in their favorite game or game role that our only choice is to decrease or stop our contact with these people. No contact stops them in their tracks, and especially toxic people become very agitated if we refuse to rise to their bait and engage in a game with them. They may actually increase their attempts to get us to engage, but if we are healthy, we will continue to refuse to rise to that bait.

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  17 Responses to “The Drama Triangle Games People Play

  1. Joyce, thank you SO much for this article. Those in recovery can accept this fact and their own culpability in “the game.” I have known many more people who never recovered (to my knowledge) and are still playing “the game” to this very day.

    I was an avid participant of this “game.” I had been taught well how to move from Rescuer to Persecutor to Victim in a seamless and endless dance. This is a very insidious game, to be sure, and requires tremendous energy in order to participate. Since I learned about this dynamic a while back, I’ve tried to pay closer attention to my responses and actions in relation to others’.

    There’s a certain inevitability of this dynamic when dysfunction is combined with disorder. It’s almost as if the abuser has been pre-programmed to initiate “the game” and orchestrates how the dynamic plays out.

    For me, personally, this dynamic is particularly fascinating where it relates to myself. I can STILL be drawn into that game under the right circumstances! LOLOL

    I have determined that it’s too tiring to play the role of each of these characters. I don’t want to “dance,” anymore. I do NOT want to remain a professional victim, either. I am reaching for something that was never taught to exist: NORMAL. I have no concept of what “normal” is, but I sure as hayell know that the “Triangle Game” isn’t it!!

    Again, thanks for this very insightful post.

  2. This dynamic is of extreme importance to understand where dysfunction is concerned, now that I’ve thought about it for a few minutes.

    I was also best in the roles of “Rescuer” and “Victim,” but the “Persecutor” was a very powerful (and, guilt-ridden!) one, as well. Today, I fantasize that someone is simply going to zip in, RESCUE ME, and that everything is going to be okay. This is a fantasy, and I know it. There is NO SUCH THING as Prince/Princess Charming or people on white horses. I know, rationally, that ANYONE who shows up playing the role of a “Rescuer” will write out a very hefty bill that I cannot afford to pay, whether it’s a “friend” or significant other. Even our own offspring can initiate this “game” to their own ends. I KNOW that I cannot afford the price of codependency, and this dynamic is vital to create it.

    Nearly every person (male OR female) who is in recovery from a disordered (spath) experience was first a Rescuer or Victim – without fail. And, this dynamic was taught to each one of us, as children – we carry that dynamic with us through life unless (and, until) we take steps to address our experiences, personally.

    I sincerely appreciate this topic, especially at this point in my recovery (such as it is!).

  3. Truthy, if you have not read this book, I STRONGLY suggest that you do so, it is very insightful and there are MANY different games. Learning to recognize our own participation in them is what lets us QUIT the game. A true game is not consciously done, if it is consciously done then it is a MANIPULATION, which psychopaths love to do, but still much of what even they do is unconscious.

    I read this book years ago but was not really applying it to my life. A therapist told me once that “the ONLY legitimate rescue is to drag an unconscious person from a burning building’/” And I think she was right.

    There is another one along this line too that builds up on what this book talks about in “Scripts People Live” and essentially is that we “script” our lives and live that drama. I can see my own scripts and they ain’t pretty. Glad this was helpful for you.

    I think your friend Flo is pretty “gamey” from what I gather from what you have said.

    I think your friend whose son deserted her is also a “chronic” victim…and doesn’t know how to get out of that role.

    • Joyce, at some point, I need to get a whole library to reference, but this Triangle Game is extremely important to me in discussion of recovery.

      Yeah, I “get it” about what the therapist said about rescuing an unconscious person from a burning building. It makes absolute sense. Grappling with my core-issues always puts me off-balance because there’s always the ingrained “But, he/she is just being who they are……..” or similar bullshirt.

      Yes, Flo is “gamey,” and I’m getting tired of playing. I still need her money as income, but I’m DONE with the rest of it. I’ll “work off” my current obligations and refuse any other “assistant” with some semblance of frigging dignity.

      I have GOT to get it through my head that what I might “need” is never worth the cost. Whether it’s food, income, or friendship, a “Friend” does NOT create an atmosphere of obligation and devaluation. It doesn’t MATTER whether it’s deliberate or not – it’s toxic, it’s defeating, and it’s never-ending as a dynamic.

      My friend-with-offspring-issues is stuck, absolutely. She is SO deep into her shame-core that she doesn’t know that there even IS a way to get out of the Triangle Game. I hope that she “gets it,” eventually, because she is a valuable human being that simply doesn’t know her own value. (sigh) I can identify with that on a personal level – I’m just now beginning to value my Self after all of this time.

  4. I agree truthy about your friend, she is deep in the victim role, shame etc. and I think we’ve all been there at one time or another…some make it out and some don’t. psychologists have all kinds of names for people who are “game driven” but the bottom line is that we must come to our own conclusion about our healing and work our own salvation out, no one can do it for us.

    Learning that what we are doing is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE is only the first step. But one which each of us must make first before we can start to heal.

  5. Love this article, Joyce! I recognize some of the games. My ex-spath liked “See what you made me do” and “Look how hard I’ve tried”. Those were 2 of his favorites.

    There was also a version of “If it weren’t for you” but that one never worked for him because I would slam him down with, “HEY! YOU made all of these decisions. Don’t EVER complain to me about not liking what you’re doing. It was always your choice.” He didn’t argue with me on that.

    “Why don’t you.. Yes, but” was a favorite of the other spath minions. My spath-sis and spath BIL would call me to help them plan their vacations. They knew that I’m good at finding discounts online, so they would ask me for help getting deals. Because I really enjoy bargain shopping, I was happy to help. I would spend a couple of hours researching and call them back with the best rates I could find. Suddenly, it was, “No we already booked a reservation. We don’t mind paying more.” wtf?

    After a couple times of this, I realized that they just liked to watch me waste my time. Literally, that’s all that they wanted. Later, it became clear to me that spaths like to waste other peoples’ time because that is a form of stealing your life. Our lives are made up of time and if a spath can’t kill you outright, he’ll just steal your life from you a minute at a time.

  6. Sky that’s hilarious really, get you to find a bargain then say “we don’t mind paying more” LOL ROTFLMAO, I know it wasn’t funny to YOU but in retrospect it is funny, and now you can see exactly what they were doing, just wasting your time. Actually, that would qualify as a manipulation though, because I think they honestly KNEW what they were doing, and if you are AWARE you are conning someone then it isn’t a “game” which must be unconscious. The moves may be the same but it is the knowledge of and intent that makes the differences between a game and a manipulation. Or a con, if you will.

    I shake my head and realize just how gullible I was and still would be if I did not work hard against it.

    I really do think this book is one of the best primers there is for someone trying to figure out why they have a disaster of a relationship with someone else…it shows us that we too are getting a pay off, though it may not be a “reward” it is at least DRAMA if nothing else. And boy is that a big pay off to some folks.

    • It is funny, I agree, in hindsight. There was another spath that I used to get good deals for. He really liked it until he realized that I was REALLY enjoying myself saving HIM money. For me, bargain hunting is a fun game even if I’m saving money for someone else. But when the spaths find out that I get pleasure from it, they don’t like the game anymore. They’d rather pay more. Go FIGURE!! lol.

      Thanks for clarifying about the difference between a game and a con. I understand now, the game is unconscious while the con is a… con.

      I would be careful about making the distinction though. Many times a “gamer” is actually a “con artist” who is fully aware of the games people play, so they join in, but with an insider’s perspective. In my opinion, this is exactly what describes the spath mask.

      This is the one idea where I differ in my opinion from Rene Girard (whom I admire greatly). Rene seems to think that all human beings are mimetic and rivalrous. In other words, they play games. But he doesn’t address the ones who are CONSCIOUSLY manipulative. Rene says that for the scapegoat mechanism to work, it MUST be unconscious. I agree that most people are unconscious of the scapegoat mechanism but I think that there are those who are very aware and who seed the first envious desire to kill the scapegoat. This is the role of Satan or psychopaths: to make the others fall headlong into an act of evil while feeling justified.

      • Sky, I’m processing your last paragraph about the difference between the “unconscious” gamer and the “conscious” gamer. I disagree that scapegoating must be an unconscious act. I also believe that, at SOME times, the scapegoat is fully aware of what’s happening and they are willing to martyr themselves and “feel” and actually BELIEVE that they somehow DESERVE being scapegoated – I know that this is true within the dynamics of my first marriage.

        Example of this was that the children needed clothing for school. I was required to trade sexual favors for their needs. If I refused to submit to what he wanted, Victor would literally tell the children that I wanted them to start the school year in rags, even though this was not true.

        Evil is evil – intentional or not. When one person commits an evil against another person, if they have a conscience and sense of remorse, they will stand accountable for their “sins” or whatever and NOT repeat (or, TRY) the same things, again. Victor never apologized or even acknowledged his role as an abuser.

      • Truthy,
        what Girard actually says is that for scapegoating to bring order to the community, the people must truly believe that the victim was the cause of the disorder and deserves the punishment. Then catharsis occurs.

        So therefore, if the victim is innocent, there is no catharsis and the mob must look around for someone else to blame. If the mob becomes aware that the victimization is a form of scapegoating, again, it won’t bring order.

        For example, if we have a religious ritual where we sacrifice a human being to the rain god every year and really believe that the rain falls BECAUSE of the sacrifice, then the community is happy. If the community eventually realizes that this is really, really stupid and killing someone doesn’t bring rain, then there will be anxiety and disorder until they find some other type of ritual that they can believe in again. Usually the new ritual is morphed from the old ritual. Abuse, once unveiled simply goes into hiding and becomes covert abuse again.

        So there are two parts to the belief. First the victim must be made to take responsibility for the crime or the rain or whatever. Secondly, the people must believe that the ritual will create the desired effect, or else it doesn’t.

        • Sky devaluing and discarding I think can be another method of “scape goatng” as well. Especially with people like your mother and mine.

          Funny thing too, in “family role theory” if there is a golden child and a scape goat child, and one of them leaves the family through death, divorce or just going away, another member of the family will be “appointed” to fill that role.

          In my own family, which has few members, once Uncle Monster died, then my mother really started protecting “the family bad boy” i.e. Patrick…and I was as the only daughter slated to become the FAMILY PROTECTOR of the “bad boy” but when I REFUSED that role, then my mother appointed my DIL to do that and started trying to buy her loyalty with buying her a car etc. and then, when she turned to be a TRAITOR and didn’t “stay bought” my mother was flummoxed….tried to get me to assume the role again, and when I refused and my sons and I went NC with her because she wouldn’t quit playing the role of “protecting the bad boy” (Patrick) then she became very punnitive toward us for refusing to accept our roles.

          Back in school when I took courses on “family role theory” I didn’t really apply it to MY family but I could see it in other people’s family….”physician heal thy self” or “take the log out of your own eye before you attempt to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.” LOL But now I am able to apply that to my own life and family and see where it is very applicable to my family.

          • Joyce & Sky, this is a very important discussion, I believe, because the scapegoating occurs and, apparently, there’s no alteration in this societal behavior!

            YES – “family roles” and assigned places…….I identify with that, 100%. After being the “black sheep” for most of my life, I moved into another role of “golden child” when my mother took ill for the final time. I was DILIGENT in caring for her until it became more than I was able to manage.

            So, I can clearly see how these roles were assigned and then changed as per my own core-issues. I “accepted” those roles, without question or concern. Now that I recognize these family roles and scapegoating, what do I do with that information? HOW do I avoid being assigned the role of scapegoat or “rescuer,” again?

            I have an inkling on this, but I’d love to read more insight on self-protection.

  7. Good discussion guys, some good points. I think though for a CON to be a con it must be DELIBERATE and KNOWING….and sometimes the “pay off” is simply the down fall of the victim.

    Take Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden for example. Satan lied to Eve, telling her that the punishment God had promised for disobedience was a lie (negating the consequences) and telling her that she would be as wise as God if she disobeyed. Knowing of course that he was lying to her, and his ONLY possible pay off was to see her fall, see her get the consequences for her disobedience of God.

    There are plenty of folks who con and manipulate folks into doing things, some to gain money like conning a person for financial gain, or for sex or just to see them fall…

    The person who is “gamey” can ALSO do cons and manipulations from time to time that ARE conscious attempts to hurt someone.

    Truthy it sounds like your x with the telling the kids that their mother wanted them to go to school in rags was MANIPULATING and you to get what he wanted, in that case sex. That was pure open aggression, using your kids to punish you for non compliance with his. I assume, perverted sexual desires.

    I’m like you Sky, I like “deals” and enjoy getting things I want or need for less than retail, it is like a “game” in the REAL sense of a game like baseball etc., to me to find great deals at auctions or thrift stores or flea markets. To me it is a challenge and is just pure FUN! A past time in Berne’s definitions, or an activity.

    The games, though, I do my best to avoid, and avoid people who are gamey when I can, and since my retirement, I can pretty well avoid people who are gamey because I am not forced to work with them day in and day out. I can pick and choose who I associate with.

    I did hire some people recently who are gamey delux version to do some work for me here on the farm. Both to help them out (on my part) but also to get some work done that son and I were not able to do, and they could, and they could get a bit of money out of the salvage tearing down an old mobile home I had here that needed to go

    Long story short, these people were in the dire straights of poverty because their son was a serial criminal and also had mental health issues, and they did not manage what money they did have.. in a logical way, so I sent the boy on his way, and the parents came out and finished up the project. But they willl allow the boy (25) to continue to get them into trouble financially out of a misplaced idea that they are helping him. Since both the parents are in declining health as well as decilning financial status, they are only one step above homeless.

    My x father in law who was a P himself, used to say “you can give people things but you can’t help them.” and it is very true…each of us must help ourselves, and I think the first thing we need to do is to HELP ourselves to some boundaries, and to learn what “games” are, and the DRAMA TRIANGLE is the key to that, and then ACT on that knowledge and refuse to play the games others try to drag us into, if only by not becoming EMOTIONALLY involved with the people or the game.

    I tried to help these people by giving them a job…but I did not become emotionally involved with them to where when my “help” wasn’t appreciated or in the long run helpful to them, then I just wasn’t disappointed that my “help” didn’t “Help” because I didn’t EXPECT it to or get frustrated because it didn’t.

    We just have to keep our expectations REAL and that means don’t EXPECT gratitude or real improvement. Look at Jesus, he healed 10 men but only ONE came back to even thank him. I think that story is a good illustration for us all to not expect gratitude for our helpful efforts.
    I don’t like the term “co-dependent” but it is essentially ENABLING and here is a link to an article on Prison Talk that gives a GREAT list of ways to identify enabling/co-dependence

    http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=105908&highlight=daveMoff

  8. Truthy, you ask “how do I not be assigned these roles” in the future?

    That’s a difficult question really, and I think it behooves us to read and learn about these roles, which is why I put up the suggestion about the “Games People Play” book. I think without a clear understanding of what these “games are” and what “assigned roles” are, that we don'[t recognize a game or a role without that knowledge. I know reading and “studying” and discussing this takes time and effort. Much of the data is on the net for free, but the Berne book is so old you can get it off Amazon for $5 or less. It is just my opinion, but I think “Games People Play” is one of the FIRST books that will give us an AH HA moment with every page. It sure was for me, but it took me 20+ years to APPLY that knowledge to my life…so I’m not knocking anyone for sure.

    The family role theory is a bit more complex, but all the information is on the internet for free. It is just a matter of going to it and READING.

    I still study these concepts to try to get them ingrained into my head. It is easier to see the roles and the games in someone else’s life than it is in your own life, and that includes me. But if I had not been aware of some of these roles and games, I would have not been on guard with my mother and would still be embroiled in her games and the role she tried to assign me of being the family enabler.

    I remember once I tried to get a “family meeting” with my son Andrew, his wife and me and my mom about Hamilton, and she wanted Hamilton there, but NOT my adopted son Michael “because HE’S NOT BLOOD.” HUH??? Hamilton was blood? and my son wasn’t?

    Well, all I can say is that my son Michael has been by my side every step of the way and HE IS MY FAMILY not because of blood but because of loyalty and LOVE, and that trumps “blood” any time.

    Just as she tried to get me to be “beholden” to her by offering to give me money. Nah, the PRICE OF THE INTEREST WAS TOO HIGH and I refused the “gift” because I didn’t want to repay it in “blood.” I remember the last time she offered me money and I nicely thanked her and said, “Thanks but I’m doing fine.” She looked at me with rage in her eyes and said “You wouldn’t take it from me if you did need it would you?” And I looked back and quietly said “No I wouldn’t.” and I could see just how STEAMED she was. She and I both knew the “rule” about “being beholden” and so she started giving Andrew and his wife and Hamilton money to get them to be beholden to her. Of course that didn’t work because they had no gratitude for “gifts” and sure didn’t FEEL beholden to her, and didn’t play by the “rules” of her game, they just took the money.

    I have a letter from Patrick to the DIL where he is talking in response to what must have been a comment in her letter TO him. He advises her that she not be offended if grandma doesn’t say “thank you” often enough, that after all grandma is “thanking” her with money so therefore DIL needed to just take the money as “thanks.”

    In the same letter he went on about how her relationship with Hamilton didn’t detract from her relationship with her husband (and was therefore okay) but she should “work on your relationship with her husband. DUH?

    Later when Andrew discovered the affair he wrote Patrick about it, and Patrick’s response was that Andrew needed to “work on it, and in the end they could all be friends.” LOL In other words, “forget about the affair, we all need to work together for our common good by torturing mother and getting her out of our lives.”

    I wish there was a “simple” way to “fix” our emotional problems, but there really isn’t, it is a long process of defining and recognizing WHAT the problems are…and that is problems PLURAL…and then working on changing those roles and our knee jerk responses to situations, such as “rescuing” others. ANY time we “rescue” someone, we, the rescue-R always end up mad and angry that it has not helped the person or they ignored our advice and got into trouble again.

    I keep thinking of the old saying “too soon old and too late smart.” LOL

  9. As I was writing the post about Prison Groupies, I started thinking about this dark triad of rescuer-persecutor-victim. The inmate “victim” hooks up with a “rescuer” who is on the outside, convinces them that s/he needs their help and is unjustly incarcerated or has reformed (i.e. manipulates them) and begs them to rescue him/her. The rescuer believes that the poor pitiful victim (inmate) will be grateful to them when they succeed in rescuing them, either by sending money, giving them a place to go to if and when they get parole.

    Unfortunately in the DARK TRIAD the rescued victim will not have any gratitude and will in time resent the rescuer and become a PERSECUTOR of the former rescuer who then becomes the VICTIM of the inmate or former inmate.

    My son Patrick’s friend, I will call him Bob, was “rescued” upon his release by a former girlfriend whom he had known before he went to prison for murder. They married and set up housekeeping. But Bob didn’t like his job, or his boss, and became tired of an average work-a-day life that provided only enough money for the bare essentials of a life in a rented shack. He was BORED so started doing drugs, and eventually after about 2 or 3 years out of prison, he and his nephew threw a chain around an ATM and dragged it off. Of course the cops only had to follow the drag marks to find the perps and back to prison he went.

    I can’t say that surprised me much, as the statistics of recidivism show that the criminal “frequent flyer” folks is the norm not the exception. Patrick had started committing crimes at age 14 or 15, and never stopped rule breaking except when he was in jail or prison and even there broke as many rules as he saw a chance. He frequently got caught even in prison and went to solitary or was transferred from one prison to another 19 times during his first 15 years in prison.Some of his rule breaking was a knife (shank) in his cell, a cell phone, smuggled contraband etc. fighting and other rule breaking.

    For a psychopath the adrenaline produced in getting away with some rule breaking is the “drug” of choice. They love the challenge, and even if they get caught, they don’t learn from it, but keep on repeating their rule breaking behavior.

    If the psychopath is smart intellectually and/or educated, they can find things to blame for the failure of the crime on someone else.

    This past year I got into contact with the family of Patrick’s murder victim, the 17 year old Jessica Witt, and one of her aunts was at the trial of Patrick every day. she told me that he used as his “defense” his abused childhood. I had to laugh at that hard enough to spew coffee out my nose. Because Patrick’s childhood was anything BUT abusive. However, what HE called abuse was me trying to get him to stop his criminal behavior which included stealing from me, stealing from his grandparents on multiple occasions, and stealing from our friends and also strangers. Stealing motorcycles because I wouldn’t allow him to have one when he lived at home. Taking a stolen gun to school as a senior in high school.He never graduated HS but I think did get a GED in jail.

    After he got out of his first two years in “big boy” prison he was given the opportunity to come home to live with his father and I, but he declined that offer and convinced my husband’s enabling niece that his mother was “mean to him” and went to live with her. She thought all he needed was someone to love and trust him. Well, unfortunately for her, it ended with a SWAT team descending on her home to get the gun he murdered Jessica with.

    Him using his “abusive childhood” as a defense for the most terrible crime of extinguishing the life of that young woman is the biggest joke of them all. But in killing her he destroyed the happiness of not only her family but ours as well.

    Both Patrick’s dad and I had viewed the young Patrick’s POTENTIAL ability to be or do anything he wanted to be or do, but we were devastated that he chose to be a thug over and over and over. but 24 years in prison has not changed his mind, given him a conscience, or elicited remorse for his crimes or for Jessica’s death.

    I also belatedly realized that I had enabled him in so many ways, giving him chance after chance to “learn from his bad choices”–CHOICES, NOT MISTAKES.

    Coming to the realization that I HAD TO CHANGE and that HE WAS NOT GOING TO CHANGE was gut wrenching for me, I had to give up the FANTASY relationship I had with my son.I had held on to that fantasy just as other “prison groupies” that have had “relationships:” with the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer or Charlie Manson or the thousands if not millions of others who send money, go and visit other convicts and live in a fantasy world created by the DARK TRIAD of rescuing those who will not change. It never works.

  10. Joyce, yes – altering my beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors has (and, always will be) an enormous challenge. It was ONLY via strong counseling therapy and a willingness to never, ever find myself on the shiat-end of the stick, again, that I was even able to identify some of my vulnerabilities to disengage from the musical chairs of dysfunction.

    I had played ALL of the roles in the Trida, and enabling is just a part of the dysfunction. Recognizing it for what it is and doing something about it takes courage – tremendous courage. It’s painful to NOT enable, at first, because what I mistook for “love” was simply a stranglehold on property, not an emotional connection as I had fantasized.

    It’s like putting an end to a terrible story – it’s sad, it’s hard, it’s painful, and it’s emotional. But, once the ending has been determined and properly grieved, there is room for the positive things in life to enter into that space. Some people – in fact, MANY people – are so afraid of whom and what they will be if they excise destructive people out of their lives that they choose to continue playing the games until their last breath. THAT is a dreadful waste – to live life for other people’s approval or attention, knowing (academically, at least) that I’ll never get either would be a grievous waste of time.

    I hope that I will never fall into that Triad, again – and, it always began as a “rescuer” because I refused to believe that some people were simply organisms that mimicked human beings, but were literally devoid of conscience, remorse, pity, compassion, or empathy. It just couldn’t be that I could care about or love another person that did not have those qualities and attributes. So, therefore, they were just misunderstood, or whatever term fit their needs at that time.

    EUGH……no more, thank you!

  11. Zen, you are right there, my “favorite” position has always been the “rescuer” chair as well. BUT the thing is that when you “rescue” someone from something they ALWAYS begin to hate you.

    Helping someone aulturism is a good thing. Reaching out to pick someone up who has fallen and can’t get up so to speak. BUT rescuing is not the same. Rescuing is doing for someone something that they CAN do and SHOULD do but REFUSE to do. Assuming the responsibility for someone else’s continued bad decisions.

    And yes, when the rescuer has helped the “victim” and the victim strikes back at them (becomes the persecutor) which makes the rescuer now the victim, it is a case of MUSICAL CHAIRS and anyone who plays that game is forced to sit in all the chairs in turn. The only way to stop it is to refuse to sit in ANY of those chairs. Refuse to be a victim of someone else. Refuse to rescue someone who could but refuses to rescue themselves, and get rid of the bitterness in our hearts which is my idea of forgiveness, but that does not mean you must or should continue to associate with the people who DO play those games.

    Learning to SET BOUNDARIES is the way we get out of the game. Recently my son had a friend from childhood who had one through some terrible tiimes. He had PTSD from Iraq where he was a medic…having child custody problems with his ex wife over the daughter that lived with him, and then his GF that he lived with and he had been literally “burned out” of their home by her relatives who were a nest of psychopathic vipers. They had several dogs (two large ones) including his service dog, the kids’ rabbits and pet chickens etc. so I let him bring them here until they could find another place to live besides with his mother. He would frequently come up and help with animal care etc and bought feed so I figured he was trying to help and I appreciated that, but as time–months–rolled on I began to see that his GF was a borderline personality disorder. I had suggested and he had followed up on getting some counseling at the VA and he seemed to be learning and growing.

    But time went on and I began to see that there was some severe dysfunction going on there and I knew his parents were pretty dysfunctional, so I wasn’t totally surprised at that, but it reached a tipping point and he “went off on” me for setting a boundary after he had made a horrendous mess in my workshop and did not clean it up, I spoke to him nicely but firmly, and said that I did not appreciate him making such a mess, and misusing and ruining some tools. He went into a rage at that point, screaming and yelling at me, jumped into his car and started to leave. I asked him “what do you want me to do with the rest of your animals?” and he replied, “You can keep them!.”

    Then as he drove by where my son and step son were working he yelled at them “Well, YOU have to Live with her!” Actually after he left we all laughed at the comment, and we frequently repeat it when we are joking around. Fortunately in this case I recognized the dysfunction, saw the problems that were keeping his friend from finding another place to live because he didn’t help himself by making financial decisions that would lead to enough money to even rent a place to live. He and his GF had what I would consider a substantial income between them, but by not spending that income in a reasonable manner, they were always dead broke by the end of the month.

    While I tried to help him/them I didn’t get into the “rescuer” chair and when it became apparent that he/they seemed to think I owed them without boundaries, I realized that he had perceived me as a persecutor when I tried to set a boundary, so he jumped into the victim chair then reverted to the persecutor role. NOT getting EMOTIONALLY invested in a situation where you are attempting to HELP but not enable someone is the only way to still be altruistic without being an enabler. Even if the person is someone you care about, you must emotionally back out. If not the onlly thing that changes are the chairs we sit in. The circle of the triad never ends.

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