They all come from The Drama Triangle!
We all know someone who thrives on ‘Drama’ the way an addict craves their drug of choice. They crave the rush of adrenaline that goes along with chaos so they unconsciously and sometimes also consciously create – drama. There is a lot of rushing around when they are involved and not a lot of outcome. They are always surrounded by an uproar that never ever resolves. So if you are in relationship with a Drama Queen you will always feel not quite right around them.
You know what I mean when I say “Drama Queen” don’t you? This person is always in the thick of things, gossiping, egging someone to take risks they are too afraid to take. In fact they avoid responsibility and consequences expertly. They are the ones who metaphorically shout “Fire!” in the theater and then disappear. They are a kind of social arsonist. Often although not always they avoid conflict. They line you up for that, then disappear because their motivation is to ‘watch the world burn’ not to ‘make things better’.
A ‘Drama Queen’ is often female, I am sorry to say but not always. A male ‘Drama Queen’ is unexpected but equally destructive. The reason for this is complex and to do with the mastering of personal power. Female culture does not teach this skill or hasn’t for many generations.
They can try to position themselves as a self appointed expert on you, your life, your children, your parenting skills, your finances, your choices, your personal development – whilst their life barely functions and whatever relationships they do have hang by thread, a thread made from an form of negative judgement known as soft bullying. This person will happily ‘go through your pockets’ and should you protest, acts as though they are doing you a favor. They are always unearthing some ‘crime’ against you and or humanity but interestingly they do not do anything meaningful about their discoveries.
They can be very tricky to identify as often the tracks of their influence are well disguised. Drama Queens like to ‘talk’ about ‘other people’, generally they are criticizing or judging them in some negative way. The Drama Queen needs to do this because their own sense of self is so damaged and fractured that they need to bolster themselves by putting others down. Drama Queens will always be involved in some kind of drama. They need to do this to distract themselves from their own internal pain that is acute and you don’t need to be Einstein to work out, they are self destructive. Drama Queens will try and pull you in to their inner world because they are lonely and in great pain. They use a form of Soft Bullying to gain your compliance.
Soft bullying is a form of intimidation often employed by women to create a sort of gang mindset in other women. Language, both verbal and non verbal, is used to scare, convey rejection or threaten social isolation to intimidate you in to agreeing and aligning yourself with the Bully. Bullies are not necessarily Drama Queens, but often they are because their conduct does not respect or acknowledge the personal rights, choices and boundaries of others and they routinely use forms of intimidation to interact with the social world and get ‘their way’. Sadly, although their strategies do work in the short term – they do not in the long term. The Drama Queen never gets what she wants.
Using soft bullying makes the Drama Queen very temporarily feel validated and supported, like she has others with her. This reduces her strong internal feelings of self loathing, briefly – but the internal pain the Drama Queen/Soft Bully lives with is extreme, so a brief respite is better than not at all. The Soft Bully will threaten to withhold friendship or emotional support, sometimes very subtly, if you do not agree with her and align yourself against – the Soft Bully’s target. You might hear the Drama Queen say things like,
“I thought you were ‘better’ than that, … no no you do as you feel, it’s just a surprise to hear you say that, that’s all, I wasn’t expecting you to … anyway, I just need to call …
[some other person who the Drama Queen implies will agree with her criticism, judgement or plan to gang up on another woman]
… I will talk to you – I’m not sure when, I am so busy at the moment …”
What to do with a Drama Queen?
First rule of Warriorship and the pursuit of Authenticity & Empowerment – need to stalk your enemy, discover their ways, how they think, what motivates them. We know that a Drama Queen needs drama, craves it, thrives on it, gets others involved in the drama – this is the secret to her power and on first glance it can appear – very powerful, very engaging. But she has one glaring weakness – she is not Authentic!
In fact Authenticity is Kryptonite to the Drama Queen!
All good? OK!? No? Unclear? Let me explain …
The Drama Triangle
I have a secret weapon to defeat the Drama Queen that is also a map of the psyche to give to the worthy – today and it is called The Drama Triangle. The worthy know who they are, you are still reading …
The Drama Triangle is a model that helps us understand the woo woo or stuff we cannot see or touch that goes on between people in relationship. It helps us problem solve when things don’t ‘feel’ right. It is a model of psychological social interaction or a therapeutic approach to understanding what happens in the landscape of our psyche or internal universe called Transactional Analysis. It was first proposed by Stephen Karpman (1968).
And it goes like this …
Karpman suggested that all social interactions that are not authentic, that is where we – for whatever reason – are not speaking or acting from our Authentic Self and the person we are speaking to is also not speaking from their Authentic Self, we are unconsciously identifying with and playing out one of the following three roles;
The person feels, perceives, speaks and acts like a victim. The role of the victim is attractive because there are many pay offs to being the victim. The person gets to avoid difficult feelings, personal responsibility, attracts care and rescuing from others prepared to play the role of ‘rescuer’. The down side is the victim never experiences authenticity, true personal power and self understanding or the ability to direct their own affairs. They always need to get their needs met by working through other people therefore they never develop a sense of their own personal power.
The person feels, perceives, speaks and acts like a persecutor or bully or even in some cases a predator. Similarly there are many pay offs to playing the role of the persecutor. The person gets to avoid feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability. They get to feel powerful due to their use of dominance and intimidation. Although this strategy to garner personal power is unbecoming, it is understandable. They get to avoid responsibility for the destructive effects their actions have on others. However they too will never experience authenticity and or heal the experiences and feelings driving their preference to be the persecutor. People who are comfortable in this role are destined to play out abuses they experienced as a child, on others as their primary model for relationship. They are stuck in an endless time warp going over and over their childhood.
The person who identifies with being a rescuer cannot help themselves and they feel compelled to rescue and intervene with offers to rescue as their primary means of social interaction. Rescuers undermine the development of personal power in the Victim and accountability in the Persecutor. Rescuers obstruct the development of Authenticity as the foundation of relationship. There are pay offs for the Rescuer in the form of avoiding their own feelings of vulnerability and powerlessness, they focus on the person playing the Victim as a way to get in touch with these feelings within their own self. However as long as they play out this pattern or game unconsciously they will not be able to grow in to their own Authentic Self.
If you find yourself identifying with one of these three roles in any social interaction, you will also be activating one of the other three roles in the person you are speaking with unless they are Self Aware, committed to living Authentically and also on to The Drama Triangle.
The problem with The Drama Triangle is it is a game, a habitual way of interacting socially that is predictable and unchanging – therefore it is not Authentic. If you engage in playing out The Drama Triangle, you are avoiding some internal experience that needs further examination and the light of self awareness to transform it in to the Authentic Self. The Drama Triangle is incompatible with the Authentic Self and living Authentically. It is a way to avoid intimacy and the creation of real relationship. It is also predictable and therefore after you’ve been around and around the cycle a couple of million times – ultimately drool drawing and very boring.
Intimacy is interesting. Authenticity exciting because it keeps evolving, meaning you keep evolving. If you live Authentically, which is admittedly a process – the person you were yesterday, last week, last month, last year is not the same as the person you are today. This is exciting to me. The Drama Triangle is like eating McDonalds’ when there is a fabulous Food Truck in the parking lot next door with some seriously interesting and diverse gourmet burger choices, creative, authentic, and different.
And the antidote to The Drama Triangle? Simple! Be Authentic! Pipe Up! Firstly to yourself, in the pages of the Journal, in the Counselling Room, in the company of a friend also committed to the Authentic Life and when you know yourself, your feelings and thoughts – return to The Drama Triangle Arena and be Authentic with the Drama Queen.
Tell her everything that is going on within you in her company – do not hold back. What’s the worst that could happen? You mess up? No problem, there will be plenty of opportunities to try again.
That crazy Triangle never changes, like the macabre distorted view of life it is, it keeps going around and around until YOU GET OFF IT!
Think “Thelma & Louise” and then maybe you could say any of the following to challenge the grip of the Drama Queen …
“I feel uncomfortable talking to you about this. It’s not cool to put someone else down.”
Call the Drama Queen out! More daring …
“I think you put her down because the part of you that is Authentic and creative has been damaged and you are angry. You are not being honest about this. Stop putting your own self hatred on her! Not cool. I can’t be part of this. We all have pain. Do your own inner work and stop blaming others for your pain!”
Peace. Leave the drama … out!