¿Conoces el Triángulo Dramático de Karpman?


Imagine you are planning a trip to the mountains with some friends and you decide to share the news with your partner. However, instead of being enthusiastic, this person would prefer to avoid the proposal and express dissatisfaction at being left alone. Even though you want to enjoy a few days with your group of friends, your partner reproaches you for always leaving her alone, even threatening to end the relationship (The Persecutor).

Faced with this situation, you feel guilty and selfish, and end up giving up your plans to please your partner (The Rescuer). As a result, your partner feels relieved and things return to normal. However, this dynamic repeats itself every time you try to do something on your own, generating a feeling of being trapped and overwhelmed. To avoid this discomfort, you start to limit your partner: “If I can’t leave, why should he/she leave?”.

Does this situation sound familiar? Like this, there are many other circumstances in which we perceive our relationships as conflictive or tense, creating a sense of constant alertness or even causing us to bring out the worst in ourselves. If you find yourself caught in this type of dynamic, you are probably in the Karpman Drama Triangle.


The Karpman Drama Triangle, conceived by psychologist Stephen Karpman, is an applied framework of psychotherapy that identifies three roles present in interpersonal relationships in various settings: the Victim, the Rescuer, and the Persecutor.

This model is visually represented by a triangle, where each role is located at a vertex of the triangle, hence its name. Karpman called it “dramatic” because there is a possibility that these roles can be assumed as part of oneself, transmitted between individuals or even lead to pathological problems.

It is important to note that the fact that a person adopts a role in one setting, such as at work, does not mean that he or she will play the same role in other contexts. It could happen, but it is not always the case. It could be the case that, in your personal life, you take on a different role with your family relationships, friendship, or partnership.


The Persecutor

This role adopts a hostile attitude, constantly looking for faults in others. Criticism and the search for control are their main tools. Although they seem to be in a constant battle, behind the anger lies a fear of being abandoned and shame.

The Rescuer

The savior cares excessively for others, often sacrificing herself to feel needed and indispensable. They seek approval and run away from conflict, sometimes hiding serious problems under the guise of helping. Their desire to defuse situations may lead them to over-dedicate themselves to good causes or become workaholics.

The Victim

From an infantile position, the victim feels helpless and constantly seeks help from others. They may manipulate to obtain care, but never feel satisfied, leading to frustration of those around them. They seek security and often turn to addictions to evade reality.


The Persecutor with The Rescuer

The Rescuer’s role willingness to yield reinforces the behavior of the Persecutor role. This dynamic can make the Rescuer feel useful but at the expense of losing his or her own identity.

The Rescuer with The Victim

The Rescuer’s role finds in the Victim someone to rescue, generating dependency. As the Rescuer does more for the Victim, the Victim feels more useless.

The Persecutor with The Victim

The Persecutor’s role takes out its frustrations on the Victim, who feels incapable of dealing with criticism and ends up complying with the Persecutor’s demands.


Breaking out of the Karpman Dramatic Triangle and freeing yourself from codependency is possible although, spoiler: it requires dedication. First of all, it is crucial to identify the role you usually play. Becoming aware of the occasions when you unconsciously adopt that role may take some time, but it is an essential step for change.

Then comes the most interesting part, although for some people also the most complex, which consists of performing actions that you have never performed before. For example, if you tend to take on the role of Rescuer, it will be necessary to stop focusing so much on others, allowing them room to make mistakes and solve their problems on their own.

In this case, it will be crucial to separate the erroneous belief that others will love you more if you help them in everything and if you are attentive to all aspects that affect them. This process involves constant and persistent work. Like any effort in personal development, it requires deep reflection and a willingness to change and adopt new patterns of behavior.


When these roles become established in life, they can lead to constant conflict and a toxic environment. Shifting to a healthier dynamic involves changes in each person’s attitude.

From Persecutor to Assertive
  • Learn to express concerns assertively without seeking control.
  • Practicing empathy, putting yourself in other people’s shoes without being aggressive.
  • Giving in appropriate situations.
From Rescuer to Empathic
  • Cultivate empathy, and show understanding without being overprotective.
  • Listen to the needs of others without imposing solutions.
  • Teach them to solve problems on their own rather than directly.
  • Focus on helping in a more empathetic and less invasive way.
From Victim to Responsible
  • Assume responsibility and ask for help when necessary.
  • Accept vulnerabilities, work towards autonomy, and face challenges proactively.
  • Seek help in a balanced way, avoiding manipulation.


Keeping the Karpman Drama Triangle in mind in our relationships involves recognizing roles, transforming attitudes, and fostering a healthier environment in all areas of our lives. If we use it, we can not only improve our relationships and skills but also understand ourselves better and build stronger relationships.