The Victim - Karpmann Drama Triangle

The Victim – Karpmann Drama Triangle

The Victim – surely no-one wants to be that?

Aren’t Victims deserving of our support?

Of course, genuine victims are deserving of our support. However, the Victim in this context will be someone who actively chooses to be one. Or it may be that they genuinely believe themselves to be a be one because of their victim mentality.

What is victim mentality?

It’s a personality trait where people regard themselves as the victims of other peoples’ negative actions. As victims they take no responsibility for their actions or circumstances and believe that everyone else is either luckier than them or actively working against them. They expect sympathy for their situation, and do not expect to be challenged over their role.

So, if someone’s making themselves the Victim, what does that make me?

If we’re using the Karpmann Drama Triangle then you could be the Aggressor, or the Rescuer. That’s to say you’re the one victimising them, or the one with the futile but expected role of trying to improve things for them. Remember, they need to be victimised to achieve their Victim status, but they want to keep it, so can’t accept being rescued.

The Karpmann Drama Triangle

The Karpmann Drama Triangle

How do I not get involved in the Victim’s games?

Step outside their game, and take on the role of Challenger or Coach. If they want you to be the Aggressor be a Challenger instead. Ask them to describe what they believe the situation is, and challenge or ask them to clarify aspects of their version.

If they want you to be their Rescuer act instead as their Coach. Help them to generate their own ideas, and show that you’re there support them in their choices. In any situation people fundamentally always have a choice. As Erik Frankl wrote of his experience in Auschwitz when we cannot choose the situation we find ourselves in we still have the choice about how we react. That is the ultimate rejection of victimhood.

The Karpmann Drama Triangle

The Positive Engagement Triangle

What if people are trying to make me play the Victim?

Don’t engage with the rules of their ‘game’. Instead short-circuit the interaction by acting as a Creator instead of a Victim. Talk about the opportunities for change that you can create, and ask for their help and advice in making the choices that you see you have. If people will respond to this if they genuinely want to help. If they just want to play their game, they’ll very soon withdraw and look elsewhere.


If you found this blog about the Victim useful you might like the ones about the Karpmann Drama Triangle; the Rescuer; and the Aggressor. You might also like to sign up for my monthly newsletter here with three stories every month on the quirky side of psychology and relationships