Fantasy Realm – The Drama Triangle
Welcome to the Drama Triangle – the special fantasy realm of Drama Queens and Drama Kings. For simplicity, I’ll just stick to using Drama Queen to cover both males and female versions.
Here within the Drama Triangle you’ll find epic stories filled with evil ogres, victims of injustice, and heroic rescuers.
It’s an ego-centric realm. The teller of the story inevitably portrays themselves as a heroic figure. The whole story is designed to convince you of their hero status.
If the incident is fresh, you’ll be told an enticing tale with the clear intention of pulling you into the drama. The teller of the tale will lay claim to being the victim of unjustified persecution.
This isn’t just venting. After sharing their drama, you’ll be expected to join in as an ally-rescuer. An easy trap to fall into, as the rescuer also gets to enjoy playing a heroic role.
That’s the point of sharing their Drama story. It’s not just to entertain, it’s to paint a clear picture of good guy vs. bad guy and to gather allies to rally against an alleged ogre.
Drama Queen Victims enjoy telling dramatic stories, and everyone loves a juicy tale. That’s why it’s so easy to get sucked into believing their version of events.
The key role in the Drama Triangle is the Victim. Without his or her harrowing tale, there is no epic storyline.
Here’s the thing. Drama Queen Victims rarely see themselves as victims. They see themselves as heroic figures forced to endure great injustices. They play the center characters of an epic adventure where they’re the TRUE prince or princess.
The Cinderella Story is an appealing plot…
Overcoming adversity is always at the heart of an appealing movie script like Disney’s Cinderella. Yet innocent as it may seem, there’s dangerous thinking in that movie. It’s easy to indulge in a fantasy role where you start believing that you’re special, that honest work is beneath you, and that friends are expected to rescue you.
Fantasies have a way of turning into nightmares. And those who see themselves in a Cinderella role will often act more like one of her cruel step-sisters – lashing out in retaliation for perceived injustices.
Dramatic storylines are warped to cast players in Scripted Roles as either heroes or villains. A Drama Queen Victim’s version of events are always heavily slanted to portraying themselves clearly on the side of good. That’s exactly how they see their place in the world.
Someone may see themselves as a Helpless Victim. Picture a damsel in distress – like Rapunzel trapped in the tower. They see themselves as powerless to struggle against powerful forces.
Another common role is that of a Noble Martyr. Cinderella is the classic example. These people perceive themselves as a noble hero or heroine forced to struggle on against great obstacles and unjust enemies.
People love to play the Helpless Victim and Noble Martyr roles. These role are highly addictive. They allow a person to blame, complain and publicly act out any frustrations in a child-like manner.
Strategy and Tactics
A Victim might appear helpless, but they can exert great power in manipulating others with their drama. A Victim’s dramatic show is all about leveraging influence through the power of spoken words. The better the story, the more the influence.
A Victim’s Story generates lots of Drama, gains plenty of attention, wins people over to a one-sided version of the story, and garners power.
A Victim’s hero-villain mindset fuels hostility and resentment. The longer they stay committed to the role, the more hostile and vicious a Drama-Queen can become. They see themselves at war with evil and will use whatever strategies and tactics they can to prevail.
A victim will gather allies with their story. Once they’ve gained enough support or justification, they may switch over to attack mode to smite the perceived ogre.
Rather than risk a full scale frontal attack or lynch mob, they’ll often use more subversive sniper tactics (such as gossip) to punish their enemy.
Constantly playing the Victim is destructive. Nothing gets resolved. Relationships are damaged. Energy and attention are diverted away from constructive efforts.
Watch this video =>
There are different levels of drama. Drama Queens are those that tend to crank the dial to the max.
Serial Victims eventually become experts at blaming, complaining and excuses. Masters of the Blame Game.
Excuses, blaming and victim drama all go hand in hand.
Even if the world keeps punishing them, these people will continue playing out a scripted role of a Noble Victim. Their Victim-Hero Status helps them maintain the illusion of not being responsible for their predicament.
This is the bad guy in the Drama Triangle. The dragon. The evil ogre. At least that’s how it plays out in the victim’s version of things.
Drama Queen Victims find ogres everywhere and will always emphasize the unfairness of the ogre’s dirty deeds.
Victims resent their oppressors – be it parents, teachers, or the boss at work. They’re infuriated by anyone in a position of power who exerts some measure of control over them. Anyone telling them to wake up, grow, up, step up or shut up.
Anyone who bursts their bubble by reminding them they’re NOT a special person entitled to special treatment.
Attacking the boss is practically a national sport. Studies have shown American workers spend an average of 14 hours a month engaged in boss-attacking conversation.
The persecutor often doesn’t even know they are being cast as the villain. They may not realize any of this Drama Triangle dynamic exists.
That’s the thing about the Drama Triangle, so much of it goes on behind the scenes and a persecutor may be oblivious to how they’re being sabotaged and back-stabbed.
Of course the Drama Triangle wouldn’t be complete with a willing Rescuer or two. Even better, a whole mob of Rescuers looking to slay that evil ogre as revenge for the perceived indignation placed upon this righteous Victim.
Note: Character assassination will do in place of actually slaying an ogre. Direct confrontation isn’t required as sniper tactics can be used from afar.
If you’re clearly on a Victim’s side, you’re one of the good guys in their books. The more you encourage a Victim, the more they’ll ramp up their ogre-slaying crusade.
Some people love to play the Rescuer. It’s clearly a heroic role and very addictive. Rescuers unknowingly support and perpetuate a Victim’s behavior.
Without a Rescuer to influence, a Victim has no power. That’s why Victims seek out people who are habitual Rescuers.
Parents naturally fall into the pattern of a rescuer for their children. Yet I’ve seen the opposite occur. An Amiable child will play the Rescuer role to an Expressive parent’s Drama Queen act.
Personality Profiles play a big part. Amiables are highly-tolerant and natural rescuers, while Expressives are natural Drama Queens and masters of the Victim role. That’s why they tend to get along so fabulously.
Drama Queens – Masters of the Triangle
Drama Queens have had plenty of practice within the Drama Triangle, often having all 3 roles mastered. You’ll see them easily slide from one role to another.
People judge themselves on good intentions while judging others on actions alone.
The Victim role is the clear favorite of the Drama Queen, as it instigates the drama and offers maximum influence.
Influence is what a Drama Queen seeks to exploit for gain with their stories. They’re constantly trying to build themselves up and knock others down. There’s usually deep insecurity beneath it all.
Here’s the thing. Drama Queen Victims don’t just tell these fairy tale versions, they believe in them. In their child-like, self-centered world, they’re ALWAYS the lead character. The crowd favorite.
Is it a maturity issue? Is it ego? Is it personality? Hard to say. Sometimes a little of everything. One moment these people can be insecure attention-seekers begging for more attention like a child. The next they can be vicious manipulators that bully people with their drama.
One thing’s for sure, Drama Queen Victims are so engrossed in the Drama Game, they’re incapable of seeing things objectively. They live the hero’s life and the deeper into the story they get, the more detached from the truth they become.
Why the disconnect? People judge themselves on good intentions while judging others on actions alone. That means a Drama Queen Victim tends to see themselves in a better light. As if wearing a halo.
Fantasy is tempting when reality sucks. Their hero status and victim stories grant a narcissistic Drama Queen emotional relief from the more painful burdens of reality. As long as they can cling to their delusional hero perspective, they’re not forced to face the darker parts of their own nature.
The REAL Ogre
In reality, who is the real ogre? Over-indulged Drama Queen Victims are so wrapped up in their heroic perspective and warped storyline, they fail to see themselves as the ugly ogres they transform into.
The entertainment industry is full of narcissists.
They think they’re living the Cinderella role, but often act more like the cruel step-sister.
Even Mel Gibson saw himself as a heroic victim who had done so much for his girlfriend. In Mel Gibson’s phone rants he continually blamed her for his rage. So much rage, jealousy and pride. Such a clear example of Emotional Transference (see previous post on Toxic Drama).
Psychotic? No, just another self-indulged Drama Queen. The entertainment industry is full of narcissists. What makes them so compelling on stage also makes them hard to live with.
Apparently Mel the actor can’t see himself playing anything but a leading man. Always the hero in his own mind.
Indulging in the Drama Triangle creates glaring blind spots. Faults and unpleasant truths that are obvious to everyone but themselves.
Failure to give them exactly what they want could put you into the ogre camp.
Drama Queen Victims are blind to the fact their ways are ugly and destructive. Their Righteous Indignation allows them to be toxic and not feel responsible for the damage they cause.
Warning: Hang around a Drama Queen Victim and sooner or later you’ll get burned. You’ll be the one being called an ogre.
Everyone involved with a Drama Queen Victim is left feeling drained (which is why these people are also called Emotional Vampires). They tend to lose friends as fast as they make them. People are drawn to the drama, but it doesn’t take long for others to see their stories are self-promotional or thinly-veiled attacks. Credibility and trust are lost.
Drama Queens are narcissistic and expect your continual admiration and loyalty. Failure to give them exactly what they want could put you into the ogre camp.
Don’t get into a drama contest with a Drama Queen. They’re far too good at it.
My advice? Steer well clear of them.
Cinderellas at Work
Within a team of professional , Drama Queen can be saboteurs.
It starts innocently enough. Stories are escapes from their daily grind used to spice up a day. Stories can also be long-winded excuses to divert attention from lack of performance and results.
Given some slack, a Drama Queen will push for more attention and influence. Their toxic affect on a team’s culture can go unnoticed.
Every episode of drama can be another emotional hand grenade. They spread discontent and their covert hostility will rip a team apart.
It’s all sideshow games and completely unprofessional. These Drama Queen Victims focus upon social maneuvering instead of professional contribution. Stories instead of results.
Condone the drama and people can become whiners rather than winners. Excuses pile up as performance falls apart. Their Toxic Drama can destroy a relationship or a team.
Share the poison pill with a Drama Queen and you could find yourself on the wrong side of the firing line.
Give a Drama Queen a position of power and they’ll wield it for personal gain. They already see themselves as entitled to special attention, now they have the power to ensure their privileged status.
It’s vitally important to purge drama from a team. Allow it to grow and discontent will spread like cancer. Soon performance will derail and morale will plummet.
Here’s a quick lesson in running a business. People by nature are either Lifters or Leaners. They either enjoy working hard or enjoy goofing off.
Here’s a poem that explains it perfectly…
Lifters and Leaners
There are just two kinds of people on earth today,
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say.
Not the rich and the poor, for to count a man’s wealth
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.
Not the humble and proud, for, in life’s little span,
Who puts on airs is not counted a man.
Not the happy and sad, for the swift counting years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.
No, the two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift and the people who lean.
Wherever you go you will find the world’s masses
Are always divided in just these two classes.
And oddly enough you will find, too, I ween,
There’s only one lifter to twenty who lean.
In which class are you? Are you easing the load
Of overtaxed lifters who toil down the road?
Or are you a leaner who lets others bear
Your portion of labor and worry and care?
– Ella Wheeler Wilcox –
Drama Queen Victims are emotional leaners. They dump their toxic outbursts on others and everyone around them are forced to walk on eggshells to keep some semblance of peace.
3 Victim Styles
Consider these 3 classic Victim Styles of the Drama Triangle – Martyrs, Shirkers and Vicious Victims.
Watch this video =>
The Martyrs play poor helpless victims in the Drama Triangle. All their miseries are due to the cruelty of fate or being taken advantage of from other people.
Your life will continue to go nowhere.
The video focuses upon the affect these Toxic Victims have on others, and are described as Emotional Vampires. Different terminology, but same concept of Toxic Drama.
Martyrs use their victim status to invoke pity and to justify doing nothing to improve their situation. As long as Martyrs can find someone or something to pin the blame on, and find others willing to buy into their victimized version of things, they can keep on spinning their story for sympathy and attention. They can keep on living in Pity City.
Now if you choose to play the Martyr role, you could be forever stuck as that damsel trapped in that tower. Your life will continue to go nowhere. That fabled white knight you’re hoping for isn’t likely to come along and rescue you.
The Shirkers don’t see themselves as victims. They don’t believe they’re responsible for anything.
Shirkers live in a fantasy realm to avoid facing the reality that their life sucks.
Shirkers assume a passive, sheep-like approach with a strong sense of entitlement. They fail to lead themselves, let alone stepping up to lead others. They focus instead on complaining, blaming and excuses.
Shirkers need a huge push, but as soon as you do, you become that mean ogre.
These people act helpless and dependent, waiting for some great leader, teacher, or shining white knight to come along and guide them forward. This approach relieves themselves of the burden of accountability.
Some Shirkers live in a fantasy realm to avoid facing the reality that their life sucks. They serve no great purpose and haven’t put in the effort to master anything worthwhile.
Behind a Shirker’s drama, there’s always a dodge or cover-up. They’re trying to squirm out of responsibility for something or avoid an uncomfortable truth. The more drama they make, the bigger the cover-up.
As adults, they fail to develop a strong character and good work habits.
At work, Shirkers will take hold given the opportunity. Some people are masters at wasting time and will use drama to spice up their day.
You see, many people are social-oriented rather than task-oriented. That can be problematic in a work place. Left to their own accord, they’ll continually engage others in idle chitchat. Now you have multiple people wasting time. They’ll continue sharing stories and killing time because they prefer social interaction to the work itself.
Children of successful parents have a tendency to be Shirkers with an attitude of entitlement. They enjoy the rewards of success without ever having struggled to climb the proverbial mountain to achieve success of their own.
As adults, they fail to develop a strong character and good work habits. That’s why rags to riches to rags within 3 generations is such a common generational pattern.
In the case of lottery winners, the rags to riches to rags may take only a few years.
The Vicious Victim is hostile in nature and justifies their wrath and vicious acts by taking a victim stance. That’s the scorpion blaming the frog.
In their grandiose versions of stories they always play the hero striking back at evil.
For Vicious Victims, their emotion of choice is anger. These people are filled with Righteous Indignation and insist their toxic emotions and vicious acts are justified and transfer all responsibility onto the targets of their wrath.
Anyone capable of such viciousness clearly has an abundance of pride and a shortage of empathy.
A Vicious Victim has strong Narcissistic tendencies. In their grandiose versions of stories they always play the hero striking back at evil.
These people are volatile and combative, with the combination of a vulnerable nature and a bite that’s just as bad as their bark. They have everyone walking on eggshells around them in attempts to minimize the Toxic Drama.
Know anyone like that?
These 3 distinct Victim Styles are probably only a fraction of the possible variations.
All these Victim Styles tell lopsided versions of stories, and it’s those stories that get in the way of any resolution. Drama Queen Victims continue heaping blame and responsibility upon the Persecutor – that evil ogre. They continue seeking the attention of anyone willing to play the Rescuer role. They continue along in an unproductive pattern of behavior – addicted to drama.
Avoid the Drama Triangle. Especially avoid indulging in Victim behavior such as venting, blaming, complaining and making excuses.
Building a winning team involves getting everyone past the Drama Habit.
Recognize drama when you see it. Don’t buy into it when you do.
Help others grow out of the Drama Habit and Victim behavior before they pull your team down.
Don’t enable a Victim by rescuing them. Instead help them move to professional behavior whereby they learn to overcome challenges and confront others in a caring respectful way.
Protect yourself and your team from the toxic fallout of the Drama Triangle.
Why do I drag all this drama stuff up?
Drama is very relevant to the dental world… Building a winning team involves getting everyone past the Drama Habit. It means keeping everyone grounded in reality and focused on the task at hand. Otherwise the team can be infected by drama and easily sidetracked.
Recognizing and diffusing drama are vital skills for any dental team leader. It’s a life-changer. The day you help someone move out of the Drama Habit is the day they grow up and start becoming a professional.
Building a terrific customer experience involves helping patients get past their old stories. People can remain stuck in a worst moment.
There you have it, the Drama Triangle and the Victim Styles.
Next post I’ll finally get to the subject of Dental Drama.
Stay healthy and keep smiling!
Dr. Joe 🙂
About the Author: Dr. Joe Bulger is a West Toronto dentist. He’s also the founder of Royal York Dental – a respected dental clinic serving Etobicoke since 1950.