Plato and the Drama Triangle


Integral Deep Listening understands misery, suffering, karma, or dukkha – whatever one wants to call it – in terms of the three co-arising roles of the Drama Triangle: persecutor, victim, and rescuer. If you play one, you eventually will play them all, not only in your relationships, but in your thoughts and dreams. Already in the 4th century, BCE Plato understood this: “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector”

However, this is a lesson that each of us has to learn for ourselves. It is not easy, because human nature seeks rescuing in countless ways: comfort food, avoidance of responsibility, messiahs, soul mates, altered states of consciousness, vacations, the internet, an imagined future, sleep, hobbies, sex, status, wealth, validating groups, belief systems, dreams, mystical experiences, meditation, love, meaningful relationships – you name it. None of these things are in themselves rescuers, and all of them are often used to rescue ourselves. Consequently, it is wisdom to get into the habit of asking, “If I were using what I am doing/thinking/feeling right now to rescue me from something, what would it be?” The answer to that question is generally both revealing and important.

Why do we chronically seek rescuing? Why do we continuously seek to rescue ourselves? We do so to the extent that we experience ourselves in the role of victim: hopeless, helpless, powerless, incapable, defenseless, vulnerable, and out of control. And so we compensate for that fear of inadequacy by throwing ourselves into relationships, activities, thoughts, and feelings that reassure us that we really are “OK.” But because these activities are avoidance strategies, we are merely fueling the problem of escape from real or imagined persecutors.

What is the solution? Part of it is to learn to deeply listen to ourselves in an integral sort of way. We need to ask, “Am I really being persecuted, or is it a delusion, like the monsters and threats I create in my nightmares?” “Am I really a victim, or is this just a habitual belief I use to protect me from the fear of failure if I stand up and shout out to the world who I am?” “Do I really need rescuing, or is that just my addiction to escapism and avoidance talking?” “If I choose not to listen to it, what will happen?”

Integral Deep Listening proposes that you perform experiments that will free you from the chronic, self-generated misery and suffering of the Drama Triangle. The easiest and best way to do this is to find and become authentic perspectives or points of view that aren’t stuck in the Drama Triangle like you are. The more you become such perspectives the more unstuck you become. This is a major reason why IDL recommends you interview and become the characters in your dreams and the personifications of your life issues. This causes you to access perspectives that include, yet transcend, your own, and which are typically less enmeshed in the Drama Triangle than you are.

The more you do so, the more you wake up. The more you move out of misery and suffering and into freedom from the real tyrants of the world: your own self-created delusions. As a result you become more clear and free to offer your many talents to the world. Both humanity nature need you to free yourself. Now, more than ever, the world needs your unique gifts.


How does the Drama Triangle play out in your life?

What works for you to get out and stay out?

How do you catch yourself from falling in?

Let us know!

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