| 2004-01-19 18:27, by Julie Solheim-Roe|
I got this quote and article about scapegoating sent to me "by way of Letecia Layson" from the InspirationTransformation newsletter in December. I keep stumbling upon it in 2004 ~ so maybe that 'means' something. Scapegoating is a base level of a westernized mythos I've explored personally and transpersonally in my lifetime. And the idea of always changing, moving and seeing all the angles of our Dances... is very UP for me in this new changing year.
Quote for the week:
And then it's followed by this treatise about the Great Scapegoat:
"The good news is that there is something else.
The bad news is we haven't evolved enough to fully realize it.
Fortunately, that evolution is possible and is happening right now.
May we open our minds to greater experience, wisdom and connection.
May we look inward, seeking the spirit of which we are made.
May we all realize the beauty, the goodness, and the truth which is
our very nature.
Go in peace, make peace, be at peace."
Scapegoating--An Insidious Family Pattern of Blame and Shame on One Family Member
Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
Scapegoating is a serious family dysfunctional problem with one member of the family or a social group being blamed for small things,picked on and constantly put down. In scapegoating, one of the authority figures has made a decision that somebody in the family has to be the bad guy. The mother or father makes one child bad and then looks for things (sometimes real, but most often imagined) that are
There are different reasons one child is singled out to be
scapegoated. Perhaps the child is vulnerable. Or the child is hyperactive, noncompliant or acts out. Sometimes the scapegoated child is viewed as weak who cannot defend himself. At times the parent heaps on the blame because he cannot stand the child who has traits and characteristics that are similar to the his own! Sometimes the child has personality traits that are similar to a disliked relative (She reminds me of my aunt Tillie who I never liked.) Other children in the family can pick up the scapegoating pattern and join in taunting and hurting the scapegoated child. In extremely dysfunctional families, the parent may goad the other children to pick
on the disfavored one.
Sometimes one child is favored and given special status by the
parent. This child can do no wrong according to the parent when they
are growing up, but being the favorite backfires on them. Children
who are favored often develop their own form of pathology in that they
grow up feeling special and entitled. One woman said, "For years I
resented my sister who my moved adored. I wished I had been special
to my mother. Now I see how messed up my sister is and I'm glad I was
not the chosen one of a very sick mother."
All members of the family are affected. Children who are scapegoated
often feel insecure and develop a victim mentality. They learn that
they are at the bottom of the pecking order in the family and often
automatically gravitate to that role at school or at work. This
dynamic of making one child "good" and another child "bad" in the
family is a vicious generational theme learned and passed down from
parents to children.
Often an insecure parent will be aggressive with one of the children
to vent his own sense of frustration at not doing well in life.
Aggression in families creates decrease in self-esteem in the
children. Aggression, the use of force against another human being,
is always present in scapegoating. As Elizabeth A. Kaspar says, "The
aggressive person is one who tries to dominate others.
Aggressiveness, too, can take several forms. The aggressive person is
frequently rude and humiliating, (e.g., "What do you mean, you aren't
going to do it?"), or the aggressive person can become self-righteous
(e.g., "I am only insisting on this for your own good."), or she/he
can resort to being manipulative (e.g., "If you refuse, what will
everyone think of you?")."
Bullying is always scapegoating. Abuse is always scapegoating.
It seems as if we humans as a species seem to need someone to vent
our anger on and make wrong. Scapegoating is a projection defense.
It is the ego saying "If I can put the blame on you, I don't have to
recognize and take responsibility for the negative qualities in
myself. What I can't stand about myself, I really hate in you and
have to attack you for it in order to deny that I have the same
Scapegoating is a huge social problem contributing to the hate that
exists in the world. There is scapegoating of whole groups of people
happens when there is prejudice or stereotyping. Unfortunately, in a
larger sense, some Jewish people or other ethnic groups and minorities
have been scapegoated by the lower conscious members of their culture.
Surprisingly there is not much research on scapegoating for all the
damage that is does to families and to society. Here are some ideas
from The Scapegoat Society, Forest Row, East Sussex, RH18 5JF,
"Scapegoating is a hostile social - psychological discrediting
routine by which people move blame and responsibility away from
themselves and towards a target person or group. It is also a practice
by which angry feelings and feelings of hostility may be projected,
via inappropriate accusation, towards others. The target feels wrongly
persecuted and receives misplaced vilification, blame and criticism;
he is likely to suffer rejection from those who the perpetrator seeks
to influence. Scapegoating has a wide range of focus: from "approved"
enemies of very large groups of people down to the scapegoating of
individuals by other individuals. Distortion is always a feature....
In scapegoating, feelings of guilt, aggression, blame and suffering
are transferred away from a person or group so as to fulfill an
unconscious drive to resolve or avoid such bad feelings. This is done
by the displacement of responsibility and blame to another who serves
as a target for blame both for the scapegoater and his supporters. The
scapegoating process can be understood as an example of the Drama
Triangle concept [Karpman, 1968].
The perpetrator's drive to displace and transfer responsibility away
from himself may not be experienced with full consciousness -
self-deception is often a feature. The target's knowledge that he is
being scapegoated builds slowly and follows events. The scapegoater's
target experiences exclusion, ostracism or even expulsion.
In so far as the process is unconscious it is more likely to be
denied by the perpetrator. In such cases, any bad feelings - such as
the perpetrator's own shame and guilt - are also likely to be denied.
Scapegoating frees the perpetrator from some self-dissatisfaction and
provides some narcissistic gratification to him. It enables the
self-righteous discharge of aggression. Scapegoaters tend to have
extra-punitive characteristics [Kraupl-Taylor, 1953].
Scapegoating also can be seen as the perpetrator's defense mechanism
against unacceptable emotions such as hostility and guilt. In Kleinian
terms, scapegoating is an example of projective identification, with
the primitive intent of splitting: separating the good from the bad
[Scheidlinger, 1982]. On another view, scapegoaters are insecure
people driven to raise their own status by lowering the status of
their target ..."
What Should You Do if You Were Mistreated?
If you recognize that certain people in your family or workplace
always take the brunt of what is going, it is probably scapegoating.
If this is your dynamic, you can learn what you do to perpetuate
unconsciously to keep yourself a victim. Do whatever it takes to
change this role of being blamed. If you were designated the black
sheep of the family, then studying this dynamic is the way to release
yourself from its poison. Learn to recognize the negative family
patterns of blame and shame and vow to stop doing them in this
Stop trying to win the favor of a parent who did not like you when
you were growing up. A parent who rejects their child has some severe
personality disturbance and is not likely to change. The best you can
do is understand the underlying dynamic of your parent and try to come
to peace with this on your own. Don't expect the parent to "own" up
to their mistreatment. Most likely, they will only deny and blame you
again for being ungrateful. Some children who were scapegoated have
as little to do with the abusive parent as they can when they grow up.
Do some reading to explore how scapegoating may have affected not
only your own personality, but also others in your family. Do a web
search on assertive behavior to learn to challenge others putting you
down. Take an assertive class and learn to set boundaries to other's
If you know a child who suffers from scapegoating, show him or her
some extra attention and be reassuring that the rest of the world does
not see him as "bad." Act as a positive role model so that he can
learn to see himself as a valuable person in his own right. Some
children from dysfunctional families seek out more positive people to
learn from. Do not let him accept the identity of being a bad person
simply because a family member was a dysfunctional bully.
Here is a bill or rights from an anonymous source for the meek and
mild who have grown up allowing others to be mean to them:
I AM MY OWN AUTHORITY
I must give myself the right to be me - to function as I see fit. It
is impossible to have a sound self-concept until I am true to myself
and accept full responsibility for my own individual life, my own need
fulfillment. At any instant I can start a new life.
I ALLOW MYSELF THE FREEDOM - I DEMAND OF MYSELF THE RIGHT:
To recognize myself as the most important and interesting person in
the world - a unique and precious part of life.
To feel warm and happy, kind and living toward myself.
To realize that at my divine center I am no better or worse, or more
or less important, than anyone else in the entire world.
To be different, to make mistakes, to be "wrong," to be inadequate.
To take the time and effort to fulfill my own needs.
To be happy and free - to be harmonious and effective - to succeed.
To be open and kind, loving and lovable - compassionate and helpful.
To be keenly sensitive and aware - radiantly healthy and energetic.
To do less than perfect - to be inefficient, to procrastinate, to
"goof off," to kill time.
To perceive myself as an absolute "nothing" - unworthy and unneeded.
To have "unacceptable" thoughts, images, desire and experiences.
To allow others to make mistakes, to be "wrong" - to be ignorant, to
To act spontaneously, to resist, to change my mind, to be stubborn.
To be emotional - to love, to cry, to be angry, to be selfish and
To drop all masks and images - to not fulfill other's expectations
and images of me.
To be criticized condemned, disapproved, disliked and unwanted.
To fail and to learn from it.
To be loyal, courageous, and exceptional - in both my person and my
To accept my own authority - to follow my own "knowing."
I allow myself complete freedom and I recognize that I am inescapably
responsible for all my decisions and actions. For I must inevitably
pay the price incurred. I profit or suffer, learn and grow according
to the "nature and consequences" of my act. I realize that "good and
evil," right and wrong," are but intellectual concepts, for there is
only wisdom and unwisdom, only wise and unwise acts.
Therefore, prior to serious decisions I ask myself, "Is this act
wise? (i.e., will it injure myself or others - will it contribute to
my basic needs - is it in alignment with the laws and forces of life?)
What is the total price involved? Can I afford to pay it? And, am I
willing to accept the consequences?"
I know that in the final analysis I need answer only to myself and
that I have all the time there is for my total unfoldment - that at
worst I can only postpone my ultimate reunion with the Infinite.
However, wisdom and love, freedom and joy beckon me onward and I
choose to proceed as rapidly as my prevailing perception and wisdom
Each Person Who Reads and Takes Heed."
Berlet, C & Lyons, M. N: Scapegoating.
Collins, S: Step-parents and Their Children. London, 1988. p134
Colman, A.D: Up from Scapegoating. Illinois, USA, 1995.
Douglas, T: Scapegoats: Transferring Blame. London 1995
Girard, R: The Scapegoat. USA, 1986
Namka, L. The Doormat Syndrome, 1989
Namka, L. Violence In Families at the Angries Out web site at
Perera, S.B: The Scapegoat Complex. Toronto, 1986
Scheidlinger, S: On Scapegoating [etc]. Int J. Group Psychotherapy.
32, 1982. p131-142.
Peace and joy,
Licensed Psychologist, 6812 N. Oracle, Ste. 130, Tucson, AZ 85704
You may send this newsletter out to family members, friends,
teachers, counselors and others who might benefit from it.
Styles of Reacting to Others:
"Nonassertion is failing to stand up for oneself, or standing up of
oneself in such an effectual manner that one's rights are easily
violated.... Non-assertive people often allow others to push them
around and of course, they feel quite angry with themselves because
they realize that they have been taken advantage of; or if they are
able to muster the courage to refuse the unreasonable request, they
feel quite guilty and selfish.
Aggression is standing up for oneself in such a way that the rights
of the other person are violated in the process. It's an attempt to
humiliate or put down the other person.
Assertion is standing up for oneself in such a way that one does not
violate the basic rights of another person. It's a direct, honest and
appropriate expression of one's feelings and opinions."
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