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Karpman Drama Triangle

Reader comment on item: Americans Battle the Arab-Israeli Conflict
in response to reader comment: American Arabs may be more anti-Israel than Middle East Arabs, but American Jews go both ways

Submitted by Jonathan Carey (United States), Mar 13, 2015 at 13:55

Egypt's Anwar Sadat said that failed attempts at peace in the Middle East are due to, "a psychological barrier between us, a barrier of suspicion, a barrier of rejection; a barrier of fear... It is this psychological barrier that….constitutes 70 percent of the whole problem."

The Karpman drama triangle describes the phenomenon behind this sentiment and article, the rewards and disfunction of three positions on the triangle (bully, victim, rescuer). I have written a paper on the topic.

Here's an example of how the triangle would work in a fictitious dysfunctional family situation: A "persecutor" father abuses alcohol and mistreats his wife "victim", while their teenage son "rescuer" conjures up a plan to "help." The son picks up one of dad's empty beer bottles and hits dad on the head and in the process becomes the new "persecutor," while dad becomes the victim. The wife, the new rescuer, calls 911 and has the son arrested. The wife is now the persecutor, and the son, the victim and so on. Parties on the Triangle continually flip around. Everyone just changes positions in the triangle without actually getting off to resolve the conflict permanently.

On maintaining Palestinian "victims", certain Arab and Muslim leaders have shown an interest in maintaining the perceived suffering and powerlessness of the Palestinian people. Suffering people make better victims for the media, and can be used to divert attention from domestic policy failures. Palestinians themselves also may use their powerlessness and suffering to secure more sympathy and generous financial aid packages from outside sources.

On Israelis as "bullies", or those in the triangle position who think they are always right...since its miraculous victory in 1967, it has been widely stated by Israel and its supporters that Israel would be willing to make peace, but for a real peace partner. Therefore, any continuing failures towards a lasting peace are usually blamed on the Palestinians and their leaders, as evidenced by the following quotes:

- Abba Eban: "Palestinians never miss an opportunity, to miss an opportunity."
- Ariel Sharon: "You know who built the fence? Terror built the fence."

Finally, the "rescuers", like this article explains, are like the advocates for a plaintiff and defendant in a courtroom battle with both sides considering themselves to be helping the "victims" in the war for hearts and minds on campus and in communities far from the actual conflict.

I would be happy to share the paper...


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (21) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1Another conclusion I draw from this column [58 words]There is NO Santa ClausJun 28, 2015 08:39223975
a useful analogy [197 words]Charles MartelJun 21, 2015 22:12223895
You say the West sees black and white and the Middle East sees all the shades of grey yet... [541 words]LynnApr 4, 2015 13:43222644
1The Jewish people war of survival was not won when Hitler lost. It continues to this day [173 words]YJ DraimanMar 15, 2015 18:27222336
Excessive Focus On Israel [120 words]DaveMar 15, 2015 16:00222334
Great observation with clear and present danger in Iranian context [110 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
asokMar 15, 2015 03:51222326
Israeli-Arab Conflict NOT to be Resolved on the World's Terms - America Notwithstanding [417 words]M. ToveyMar 16, 2015 12:01222326
Arena politics vs Projection politics [149 words]David ScholemMar 14, 2015 08:46222317
Very Insightful, but not Universal [92 words]AlexMar 13, 2015 18:32222311
Belief of the conspiracy teory [36 words]CzeslawMar 12, 2015 04:20222297
Progressives hate the idea of "nations" - Period. [164 words]Uncle VladdiMar 11, 2015 21:43222295
Unfair apples-to-oranges comparison [142 words]Dan SimonMar 11, 2015 18:36222293
Sobering [5 words]Jay AbouafMar 11, 2015 17:44222291
1American Arabs may be more anti-Israel than Middle East Arabs, but American Jews go both ways [171 words]Alan SteinMar 11, 2015 15:48222288
Why do Israelis seem ambivalent concerning Iran? [206 words]Michael S.Mar 13, 2015 04:43222288
1Karpman Drama Triangle [404 words]Jonathan CareyMar 13, 2015 13:55222288
1Bullying has nothing to do with the conflict [126 words]Michael SMar 17, 2015 15:37222288
3I like this article [370 words]Michael S.Mar 11, 2015 12:54222285
1Consider this! [321 words]There is NO Santa ClausJun 28, 2015 08:54222285
Kickenjudenaustheirlandenheit and Antisemitism [2168 words]Michael SJul 3, 2015 04:25222285
The master of the divisions have found the additional line of the opposition. [79 words]PermReaderMar 11, 2015 12:00222283

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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