Let’s think about what may determine whether a child becomes a bully or will be bullied. The goal is to identify the relationships and personality characteristics in family dynamics and how they relate to each other.
The Karpman drama triangle describes the role of rescuer, victim, and persecutor where all roles are switched according to what the situation calls for. The roles do not have functional relationships, therefore individuals can be led to seeking substitute solutions outside the family environment.
Children develop, therefore inherit their roles inspired by interactions in the family.
If that is true, we need to focus firstly on how parents influence each other. Is the relationship balanced or are there hints of dominance? If yes, what role does the child inherit?
Here is what the schema looks like. The child usually learns from the mother how to perceive and from the father how to behave – interact with the outer world. The preference of learning from the same gender in certain aspects can play a role. However, in a scenario where the father shows dominance in interaction with the mother the child can inherit the role of the persecutor which he or she will apply outside the family environment, for instance at school. Hence it is the role of a bully. The child learns how to apply dominance. This is because the child learns interaction with the outer world from the father. Let’s call it axiom A. The question is whether this is valid either for boys and girls or only for boys. I lean more towards the idea that this axiom applies more to boys considering the mentioned preference. In a scenario where the described interaction is perceived by girls, there may be the more inherited role of being bullied. However, when the girl needs it, she can have the attitude of the persecutor. Let’s call this scenario axiom A 1.
What happens when there is dominance on the mother’s side? The role of being bullied outside the family environment can develop. The child may have difficulty developing defence mechanisms because there is no learning of them in the development of perception if we follow the idea that the mother is the source of learning how to perceive and the father is the source of learning how to interact with the outer world. This may influence boys and girls alike. Let’s call this scenario axiom B.
Dominance on the mother’s side can determine the type of personality. Here we could distinguish according to Dr. Kappas between “emotional” or “physical” sexuality (defines the type of behaviour) and suggestibility. In this scenario, the dominant mother belongs to physical sexuality and the father belongs to emotional sexuality. Let’s call this criterion A.
When dominance is on the father’s side, it’s the other way around. The father is more physically and the mother more emotionally sexual. Let’s call this criterion B.
Here the question arises whether sexual behaviours are developed based on the relationship dynamic, therefore it could be misleading. Let’s suppose that this is a rare case.
We need to describe a scenario when dominance is on both sides. This probably never happens at an equal level, if so, the family may break up. And the type of personality in this scenario will be inconclusive. On the outer level, it may look to be 50% emotional and 50% physical sexuality. Let’s consider this to be axiom C.
Now the question is how the child will act towards each parent in the described scenarios. That could also reinforce the chosen role outside the family environment.
In the case of axiom A, the mother’s dominance will be presented to the child and have a direct or indirect influence. And the child will have the need to influence the mother. The father’s influence is in a sense a defence, thus unwanted manipulation. The child will therefore not develop the ability to defend himself, so may be bullied outside the family environment. The child can develop a perception of distorted reality due to chronic emotional suppression. Thus there may be a dissociation which can at a manageable level serve as reinforcement of emotional patterns.
In the case of axiom B, the child attempts to influence both parents, though the father’s dominance will have a direct or indirect influence. Consistency of the father’s dominance can reinforce the child acting as a persecutor outside the family environment. In case of inconsistency of the father’s dominance, the child will attempt to take over the role of persecutor and try to create more consistency in his dominance.
In the case of axiom C, it is more likely that the child may be completely dissociated, disconnected, and there will be no successful attempts in any kind of influence from the parents’ side. The reason may be that due to balanced emotional and physical sexuality the child will be able to adapt as required.
It may be worth briefly discussing suggestibility based on the previous context. Considering that the child is developing its suggestibility, we can talk about the parents. Emotional suggestibility suggests the attitude of defence and physical suggestibility suggests the attitude of dominance. That would describe the intention of emotional or physical sexuality in behaviour.
When parents have balanced emotional and physical sexuality, the determination of suggestibility due to the ability to adapt is not clear.
Emotional sexuality and suggestibility
A type of sexual behaviour in which the individual reacts with defensive emotions to prevent his/her physical body from feeling, thereby exaggerating emotional needs. EMOTIONAL SUGGESTIBILITY – suggestible behaviour characterized by a high degree of responsiveness to inferred suggestions affecting the emotions, and a restriction of responses of the physical body, usually associated with hypnoidal depth.
Physical sexuality and suggestibility
Sexual behaviour in which the individual reacts to physical stimulation as a defence to protect his/her emotional behaviour, thereby exaggerating the need for physical acceptance and gratification. PHYSICAL SUGGESTIBILITY – suggestible behaviour characterized by a high degree of responsiveness to suggestions affecting the body and a restriction of emotional responses, usually associated with cataleptic stages or deeper.
The Karpman drama triangle
The Karpman drama triangle is a social model of human interaction proposed by Stephen B. Karpman. The triangle maps a type of destructive interaction that can occur among people in conflict.