the current, drama triangle

“Too much drama!”

And as I once more reiterate the familiar refrain in our family to my budding young son, he knows exactly what I mean. There is too much drama. Too many theatrics. Too many times a circumstance becomes a spectacle. And too many willing players on the scene. 

Allow me to briefly introduce the “drama triangle.” The roles of the 3 players are clear…


The victim… the one to whom something has happened to — maybe bad — but maybe not… yet when bad things happen, we far prefer to see ourselves as the innocent one… we struggle with how we may have contributed…  

The rescuer… the classic enabler… the hero, if you will… they feel guilty if they don’t help… the challenge with the rescuer is that their involvement keeps the victim dependent and gives the victim continued permission to fail — sometimes so much — often so much — that the victim never has to evaluate how they have contributed to the conflict…  

And the villain… the perceived bad guy… they can be mean-spirited… insistent… maybe even evil.


When we see ourselves as the victims or heroes/rescuers (because none of us ever see ourselves as the bad guy), we actually create villains; we manufacture the miscreants.

I’ve been wrestling with this for a while — wrestling with the realities and fallacies of victimhood — as not everyone who claims to be a victim actuallyis a victim. Something is clouding the picture. So allow me to respectfully ponder further…

is there a relationship between being a victim and identity politics?

I pause, struck by the preposterous, real life example of actor Jussie Smollett, who appeared in court again last week, as one alleged to have intentionally utilized identity politics to concoct a well-defined victim status.

Why actually invent your very own victim status?

Remember that the rescuer comes to the immediate aid of the victim; the rescuer must help. The extent of the facts matters less than the potential depth of offense; the whole truth matters less. The rescuer heroically sweeps into the situation, saying, “Victim, let me help you.”

Together then, the victim and the rescuer create the villain.

Look again at Smollett — a victim in search of a rescuer. Smollett attempted to create a Trump-loving, gay-hating, possibly white villain. Said author Eboo Patel in his diversity blog: “He [Smollett] knew that there would be enough prominent people out there in politics, pop culture, activism, thought leadership, the media and liberal twitter to create a blizzard of support that might just snow over the facts of the case.”

Those prominent people played the role of rescuer. They snowed over the facts. There was zero accountability. When the rescuer and victim align, they forget the need for accountability.

Accountability means a person, institution, etc. must justify their actions or decisions; the facts must back up the feelings. But what’s happening in our current, reactive culture is that the rescuer runs in, aligns with the perceived victim, and creates the villain before all the facts are analyzed. 

That’s what’s happening in our politics…

That’s what’s happening in our media…

That’s what’s happening in us.

They/we are creating some pretty big villains. As comedic genius Billy Crystal once said, “The size of the villain determines the size of the hero. Without Goliath, David is just some punk throwing rocks.”

So I ask more questions than provide answers this day… what big villains are we creating? … where are we forgoing the prudent need for accountability? Where have we allowed the agreement of the victim and rescuer to serve in place of accountability? What role has identity politics played? And where have prominent people in the media played an unhealthy role?

More and more, people are tuning out politics and turning off the media.

“Too much drama,” they say…



One Reply to “the current, drama triangle”

  1. I remember a class in which the prof said we all move from these three mind sets, depending on the situation. All of us are capable of all three.

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