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the family scapegoat










A word about scapegoats. A lot of families have that one individual who is blamed for all the family woes. They are blamed so that other family members might avoid looking within themselves.

Robert Burney author of "Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls; A Cosmic Perspective on Codependence and the Human Condition," identifies the "Acting out child" - "Scapegoat" This is the child that the family feels ashamed of - and the most emotionally honest child in the family. He/she acts out the tension and anger the family ignores. This child provides distraction from the real issues in the family. The scapegoat usually has trouble in school because they get attention the only way they know how - which is negatively. They often become pregnant or addicted as teenagers.

These children are usually the most sensitive and caring, which is why they feel such tremendous hurt. They are romantics who become very cynical and distrustful. They have a lot of self-hatred and can be very self-destructive. This often results in this child becoming the first person in the family to get into some kind of recovery.

There are serious problems that arise for the scapegoat. Everyone needs other people. Family, friends, acquaintances and relationships in general are all supportive and protective factors in your life. If your social relationships fail to support you or even undermine you, you will be vulnerable and an easy victim for any scapegoater coming around and searching for someone to blame.

The danger of becoming a victim is, of course, greatest when the scapegoater is someone close to you. Being victimized and scapegoated by your own family - thus by people you have trusted - is probably the hardest thing anyone can experience in this life. And not without reason, what can you do if your own roots fail you and you are denied interconnectedness with those closest to you. Some scapegoating families may keep the scapegoat within the family because the family needs its victim, but the scapegoat is accepted only if he or she assumes the social identity of a scapegoat.

Usually the scapegoat is stigmatized as someone different, strange, inferior even, any kind of negative attributes may be given to the scapegoat. He or she is everything scapegoaters do not recognize or want to recognize in themselves. Or he may be seen as having characteristics that scapegoaters do not even have but fear or imagine that they might have them. In such cases the victim is often driven out of the group, into isolation, because only that way the scapegoaters feel having really got rid of all the negative characteristics they don't want. The projection carrier cannot be 'one of us'.

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