we all do it. we think we can help someone less fortunate than ourselves. we put a coin in a cup, we reach out a hand, we advise, we offer shelter.....
...and we wonder why nothing changes, or that the person isn`t grateful, or that the situation gets worse.
the answer lies in our own personal motives.
why did we put the money in the cup, or offer help or advice or shelter?
too often the person offering help has some expectation that the act of help will be repayed, not necesarily in the form it was given, but in recognition or gratitude.
so why is that a problem?
because it puts pressure on the person who recieved the initial action to reciprocate.
now, not all people who need help are playing victim. the person with a broken-down car needs somemone to stop and assist. the kid being bullied at school needs adult intervention. the ill need medicine. people need advice and certainly we help those close to us without thought of what they should do for us.
these brief adult transactions are part of the glue that holds communities together, but the manipulative exchanges that make up the victim-rescue-persecute triangle are a different story entirely.
a person, for whatever reason, feels inedequate and plays victim. they drag thier heels, play sick or generally unable to do things to survive....and petition someone else for help...consciously or otherwise.
then the rescuer goes to work, morally and ethically believing that thier efforts will somehow make this person`s life better.....and that they will be seen as the one to do it.
people of all types do this. parents, clergy, teachers, politicians...the list is endless.
ok, so there is the simplified dynamic of the victim-rescue phase of the game.
now for the persecution.
children get angry at their parents, want thier own lives, cars, phones, money, etc....and resent thier parents for having these things and not continuing to share.
husbands and wives tear eachother apart with the help of lawyers and judges.
the nieghbour makes your life a misery every day of your existance.
again, not all children and not all spouses and not all nieghbours do this.
only the ones caught in the victim-rescue-persecute game.
how do we tell the difference?
our own attitude toward whomever we offer assistance.
what do we expect from them?
if we expect the begger on the street to turn his life around because we put a dollar in his cup...we have begun on the path to a persecution game.
same with our spouses and our children.
they need our help, but the don`t need our sanctimonious expectation and obligation.
it`s no wonder they get angry.
the movie "the soloist" is the story of a homelss cellist suffering from mental illness and a journalist who decides to write a story about the man and help get him off the street. it is a great example of the rescue game in action....and interestingly critics panned it.