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  • Writer's pictureMC Mendez

Dedramatising the Drama Triangle

I recently revisited my coaching training as an assistant. In one of the modules, the subject of the Drama Triangle of Stephen Karpman, a key figure in transactional analysis, came up. One of our teachers recommended this little book to us: "Victim, Persecutor or Saviour: How to get out of the trap? » by Christel Petitcollin. As I turn the last page, I highly recommend this little gem of precision and humour.

The first time I heard about Transactional Analysis, I was a little lost between the different notions, such as life positions, the ego-state models, the structuring of time or the famous psychological games. I could see that they they represented a wealth of information, but since I was new to the subject I had difficulty integrating the different concepts and understanding their concrete uses.

Reading this book at that time would have helped me delve into the matter in a simple and fun way. Not only does this book explain very clearly the games in which we play with, sometimes a great deal of energy and perseverance, but it also provides a whole series of concrete examples to which we cannot remain indifferent.

It made me laugh because it unashamedly portrays all the strategies we use to throw "a good game", as Christel Petitcollin describes it. She does not hesitate to expose us to our most sophisticated ploys to enter or push others into this infernal triangle, where we take the role of victim, persecutor or saviour.

It sometimes made me blush when I uncovered games I had played often and during which I had strived for "best leading role" with performances worthy of the Actor Studio! It also surprised me when a new games were brought to light. The ones I didn't know I played. It made me angry when I discovered all the games that I was made to play "in spite of myself" and in which I participated anyway. In short, the games that spoke to me the most might not be the ones that you would favour, but rest assured that there is something for everyone!

Moreover, once read, you cannot "un-read" it! :-) It is therefore very clear that these games exist, that we tend to play some of them regularly and that, with a little practice, there are solutions to avoid them or defuse them. We have our share of responsibility when it comes to making these games happen and it is quite possible not to give in to them, even though we are used to. It is a personal choice that we can act on with the advantage that it will either have a positive effect on our relationships, or it will cause a salutary distancing from certain people, those relentless and convinced players who will perhaps not give up so easily!

The last chapter is actually dedicated to solutions on how we can avoid getting into the famous triangular match and if we have taken the bait, how to disengage, and if we have succumbed to the game all together, how to avoid it next time!

However for these solutions to work, two ingredients are essential: Questioning oneself and choosing our words wisely. I therefore recommend that you continue your reading with works devoted to Non-Violent Communication, such as: "Words are windows (or walls)" or " Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. " by Marshall B. Rosenberg (as mentioned by Christel Petitcollin) or: “Stop Being Nice, start being real by Thomas D'Ansembourg.

You will then be equipped with all the necessary tools to avoid needless games and conflicts and you will be able to redirect all that energy towards qualitative exchanges and a more serene life, with the added bonus of being very clear on your needs!

For more information on Christel Petitcollin's books, visit her website:

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