I’ve been thinking lately about the Drama Triangle; where the roles of victim, villain and hero swap places dynamically within overall victim energy, and how this intersects with sociopolitical context and culture.
To quickly review the roles within the Drama triangle:
The Victim – Feels powerless, life is always happening to them, they are awaiting someone to save them from things/their perceived reality. The truth is, no matter how good their rescuer is and how hard they try, they cannot be saved by any external force. Their salvation is a mindset change.
The Hero- Is the rescuer. They find purpose and validation in saving the poor victims, choosing to focus on them versus examining their own ego-driven motivations, or the source of the void they are attempting to fill. They will often overextend themselves to their own peril, and never be able to produce enough to feel validated.
The Villain – This person places blame, manipulates and controls. This person is motivated by placing blame as a protection from being a victim themselves. Their control seeking helps them avoid feeling like a victim.
These roles are fluid and many of us wear these roles at different times, however all of them exist in a Victim energy context. All of them have a void, they are not operating from a sense of power, self-determination, creativity, love, etc while the hero is often revered as being well-intentioned and altruistic. The Hero-Victim dynamic is especially advertised in romantic relationships through various forms of art expression. Within this triangle, all of them are trying to prove they are in fact the biggest victim.
In the culture of this country, this dynamic plays out in many ways, and profit, advancement and success are attached to these titles as well.
- “The Victims” are pimped by various “Hero-like” corporate and non-profit entities seeking to “save” these poor souls who cannot save themselves. They need us, the saviors. Inherent in this message is that these victims are not smart enough, not capable and have not taken the proper actions to help themselves, so this is why we Heros have to do this, it is our purpose.
- “The Villains” write policies, wield political power, and influence systems to keep clearly drawn lines between the haves (Heros) and the have nots (Victims). Oppressing the victim validates their distinction from the victims, because after all if we were all on a level playing field without blame placing and control and suppression, what would the Villains become? Who would they be?
A vicious cycle, going round and round. Each position feeling validated and passionate in their positions truth.
Layer in sociopolitical context, the historical and factual foundation of white supremacist colonization, treachery and oppression in this country to all people of color;
- Indigenous First Nation people – Slaughtered in mass, violently moved off of their land which we all still occupy today, brutalized and traumatized through American Indian Boarding Schools where children were taken and forcibly “assimilated” to white culture punished if they practiced their religious traditions, given european haircuts, and had their tongues cut out of they refused to speak English. To this day, forced onto designated plots of land, and are systematically being erased as a racial demographic in an attempt to devoid treaty agreements with the government.
- African descendants – Targets of 400 years of the worst institution of torture, dehumanization, spirit-breaking, family-decimating, enslavement ever know to human beings in our history. Post-slavery, continue to be violently oppressed through systemic & political means in all aspects of life – education, healthcare, housing, economics, judicial and incarceration systems, food access, etc.
- Asian Pacific Islander people – History of systematic segregation, Japanese internment camps during WWI, Chinese laborers who are credited with literally moving mountains and losing their lives constructing the Transcontinental railroad
- Latino people – Most poignant is the original borders of Mexico which encompassed all of what today is California, through the western region and including Texas, with the same history of murderous theft of land and resources, appropriation of culture and villainization of the people on the receiving end of this savage behavior.
All people of color in this country live in the residue of this culture context. We are and have been victims, without question. But we are in many respects deemed “wrong” to wear that label. Urged by white people to get over the past, embrace the individualistic culture of meritocracy prevalent in this country, advertising any and everyone can be successful to the level of their effort. And of course pointing out all evidence of self-deprecating behaviors as a validation of subjugated status. This is just the Villain mindset validating their own behavior with their right hand behaviors and then with their left hand seeking to be the Hero by committing a sliver of their profit margins – made through the process of extraction of the land, labor and souls of oppressed people- to feed their self-righteousness and ease their underlying guilt. Same vicious cycle.
Within this sociopolitical context of white dominant culture, everyone still operates within Victim energy, still trying to prove who is the biggest victim.
When do we rise above victim energy into something more asset based, more powerful? Is there a cultural context related to the Drama triangle? Is it prevalent in other cultures across the world? Is this a human dynamic? Does any human being anywhere operate beyond this triangle?
Would love your thoughts and reflections. Feel free to comment below.