The Power Triangle
Central to the understanding of The Sociopathic Style™ is the “Power Triangle”
Classically, one enters the triangle from a power-down victim position, or the power-up rescuer position. The stereotypical relationship style in our society is for the female to be seen as victimized by the male. This is certainly not always the case and we have seen many examples of males being victimized by females, females by females and males by males.
In the classical scenario the “Damsel in Distress” needs the “Knight in Shining Armor” to rescue her as she is helpless and cannot get herself out of her terrible life circumstance. The hidden component of the triangle is the “Villain”. Classically, in The Sociopathic Style™, the “Knight” and the “Damsel” are the characters in the drama. Only when the “Damsel” starts to gain strength does the “Villain” come into the drama. The “Knight” needs the “Damsel” to stay in distress or he doesn’t have a purpose for living.
As in all dualities, one side mirrors the other. The “Knight” is utterly powerless without the “Damsel”, as the “Knight” has no access to his core, his inner source of strength. He denies his powerlessness and finds power through his chameleon-like ability to be whatever the distressed “Damsel” needs. The “Damsel” is incredibly powerful in her ability to manipulate the “Knight” with her absolute, albeit unconscious, feigned inability to live life from her own resources. Her all-powerful message to him is that without the “Knight” she cannot live.
Now enters the “Villain”. As the “Damsel” begins to receive what she needs, she begins to come more alive. The “Knight” is then threatened by the “Damsel’s” developing strength and becomes the “Villain” through shaming her, diminishing her, blaming her for his woes and telling her how sick she is. He aids and abets her belief that she cannot live without him.
The degree to which she holds him as a credible authority, and the degree to which she believes she needs him to survive, is the degree to which he has power over her. Sometimes the authority and power are real as in the relationship between a doctor and patient, professor and student, attorney and client, clergyman and parishioner, parent and child, employer and employee, haves and have-nots. The reader can add many more categories of power dynamic relationships.
Because each person in The Sociopathic Style™ has emerged from childhood with a deep suppression of their essential Self, having also an inner experience of powerlessness, they must operate in all relationships from positions within the power triangle. Being separated from their inner strength, they must get power by playing the characters of the drama.
Thus, The Sociopathic Style™ encompasses the victim as well as the persecutor and the rescuer. The typical cultural view is that of the medically diagnosable sociopath being a perpetrator on innocent victims. In our research, we have moved beyond this to reveal a larger picture of a relationship style that is engaged by all three characters of the psychopathic phenomena. This means the victims are sciopathic to some degree as well as the identified victimizing sociopath and the rescuers as well. We have worked with many people who have been in relationships with medically diagnosable sociopaths. We have discovered that The Sociopathic Style™ relationship phenomenon is very widespread -- perhaps universal -- in our society. In many ways, our cultures foster the Sociopathic Style™ as an acceptable relationship style.
Dr. John McCormick 03/22/05