The Rescuer in Karpman’s Drama Triangle is labeled the Hero in the TED, R2C, and Relative Models. The Hero is often someone who is engaged in the interaction between the Victim and Villain. In an event of extreme scarcity, to the extent that one’s life is in danger, we imagine a Hero who might come along, just in time, to save the day. We imagine an individual who is confident, strong, daring, bold, brave, and courageous. They arrive just in time to curtail atrocious acts against humanity by rising to the challenge and overcoming it. I will refer to this aspect of the Hero role as the Authentic Hero. In a moment of extreme horror and vast scarcity the Authentic Hero is one of the most valued roles. The Authentic Heroes are individuals who step up in extreme circumstances to stop harm from occurring. We’ve seen some of the bravest people step up in moments of terror and horror. Therefore, we idolize this role and attempt to replicate it in ourselves. We believe, that if we mimic the role of Hero, we will feel the bravery and mastery that we imagine comes from rescuing, saving, helping, and supporting. What we fail to recognize is that during the moment of extreme scarcity, an Authentic Hero is feeling fear just like every other role; however, they are responding to the fear in a courageous manner through action.
On the other hand, the Hero that is mimicking acts of heroism is holding a “fake it until you make it” strategy in confronting any moment of scarcity. This adaptation is useful in certain circumstances as long as the moment of scarcity does not surpass the individual’s threshold for psychological pain. Most acts of adaptation (such as mimicking what is modeled) work well in allowing us to practice responding in a favorable manner until we are able to cultivate our own sense of self-efficacy and courage. Unfortunately, adaptations only work well in a specific context in which the individual who is mimicking is not feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, I propose that the acting Hero, or Mock Hero, when overwhelmed, will become stuck in the Hero role in contexts that are not adaptable, and are instead harmful. Mock Heroes respond to an illusory moment of perceived fear based on previous traumatic experiences that left them with an exaggerated sense of vigilance, or hyper-vigilance. Their skewed reaction to perceived danger comes from a place that is incapable of holding the reality of the experience due to feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, a Mock Hero may be pulled to rescue, repair, or correct the issue that is causing pain for the Victim, getting stuck in a “fix” mindset which may not be helpful within the context. The “fix” mindset is not necessarily part of the traditional fight-flight-freeze-faint reactions in an autonomic nervous response; however, I would argue that the “fix” instinct comes from our need to find homeostasis and cultivate a sense of safety. Thus, the Mock Hero responds by attempting to “fix” either the perceived threat or by rescuing the Victim. The Mock Hero’s attempt to “fix” can instead debilitate the Victim’s ability to rediscover self-efficacy that may have been stolen. In other words, a Mock Hero is the individual who would give a hungry person a fish, as opposed to teaching them how to fish, in order to engage in an activity that creates a false sense of bravery and courageousness. However, it also takes away from the Victim’s ability to become a Creator of their own sense of self-efficacy in overcoming a painful experience. This interaction between the Mock Hero and Victim may continually exacerbate a Victim’s experience of fear.