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"Don’t be a rescuer in conflict": Lessons for Living, by Dr Neil Thompson

Life is never without its challenge, but there is always the opportunity to learn and grow from those demands made on us. Dr Neil Thompson offers advice to tackle these problems and help social workers and care professionals to realise their potential.

01/08/21

"Don’t be a rescuer in conflict": Lessons for Living, by Dr Neil Thompson

In conflict situations it is not uncommon for one or more parties to feel that they are being persecuted, that they are being treated unfairly.

This is often due to the conflict concerned revolving around different perceptions of the situation.

For example, where there are two people in conflict it is very common for each to perceive the other as being ‘difficult’ or ‘awkward’ – that is, each seeing the situation in personal, rather than interpersonal, terms.

Where this occurs the result can be what is known as the ‘drama triangle’.

This is where one person in the conflict (who plays the role of victim) draws in a third party to seek support (to be a rescuer) against the other party who is cast as the persecutor.

If you are that third party and you allow yourself to be seduced into being a rescuer, you may then find yourself in difficulty when you discover that the alleged persecutor sees him- or herself as the victim and seeks to cast the other party as the persecutor.

So, whenever you are called upon to ‘rescue’ someone from a difficult situation, first look at that situation carefully and particularly at any elements of conflict.

Dr Neil Thompson is an independent writer, educator and adviser.

His website is www.NeilThompson.info.

Connect with him online via @drneilthompson.

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