PREVIOUS: Enneagram Flaws in us all – Type 9.
SITE: Scapegoating–An Insidious Family Pattern of Blame and Shame on One Family Member
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
QUOTE: “The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower
NOTE: Being scapegoated is similar but not quite the same as the Toxic Family Role of Scapegoat. (See Post). In both cases the child is abused by everyone. The main differences are :
— the ROLE is usually the second-born, sometimes the oldest boy as ‘Rebel’, & is something the child takes on in order to protect the family
— while in Scapegoating an adult chooses which child is to be abused – made to carry the burden of family’s PMES dysfunctions so the parents don’t have to admit & face their own damage
1. ORIGINS: “The Scapegoat motif began centuries ago as a part of the sacrificial dynamic with a god or gods. Once a year in a ceremony, the members of a tribe or village would write down their sins on a ribbon which was tied around a goat’s neck. The goat was then burned as a sacrifice, or sent away into the wilderness. Either way, the Scapegoat carried off the ‘sins’ of the village with it, leaving them forgiven & cleansed.” (MORE…)
DEF: In a twisted version of this ancient religious practice, modern-day Scapegoating is a form of bullying, a hostile social/ psychological torture started in childhood, which —
— mis-credits cause & effect, where people move blame & responsibility (T) away from themselves, towards a target person or group
— is an aggressive practice, where angry & hostile feelings (E) are projected onto others, via inappropriate accusations
Another way of saying it is: Scapegoating is the practice of singling out someone for undeserved negative treatment – the active projection* of blame & guilt onto another person or group so the scapegoater can remain seemingly righteous, ‘good’ & guilt free. The victim may be an adult, sibling, child, employee, peer, ethnic or religious group or country. Also called Whipping boy, Fall guy, Patsy, Designated Patient, Sacrificial Lamb….
*Projection: (NOT Projecting) A defense mechanism – in which person/ group A’s unacceptable thoughts, needs & emotions are unconsciously assumed to belong only to person/ group B, who is then accused of & punished for causing all of A’s problems. A’s damaged ego says: “What I can’t stand about myself, I really hate in you (B) and so have to attack you for it, in order to deny that I have the same quality”.
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2. Scapegoating FAMILY
As the world becomes ‘all one place’, people no longer have the luxury of ‘casting out’ what we aren’t willing to acknowledge, & besides, even if we wanted to there are few wilderness places left in the world to do that.
So we turn on each other. The original purpose of this ritual is re-worked in the dysfunctional family ‘tribe‘ by adults heaping their collective sins on one of their members, then driving them away – if not literally – then by alienating them from everyone else’s affection.
— The rest of the tribe can then point to the chosen black-sheep & proudly proclaim that they are not like him/her, allowing the family to look very good to outsiders, in contrast to the ‘bad’ one. Thus the Scapegoat is sacrificed for ‘the good of the family’ – likely to be chosen unconsciously, but for specific reasons. (in Part 3)
● Often an insecure parent will be more aggressive with one of their offspring, to vent his/her own frustrations. The use of force against another person is always a form of scapegoating, & damages self-esteem in children. Elizabeth A. Kaspar tells us that aggressiveness can show up as being:
— rude & humiliating, (“What do you mean, you aren’t going to do it?”)
— self-righteous (“I am only insisting on this for your own good.”)
— manipulative (“If you refuse, you’ll let everyone down”)
NEXT: ACoAs being Scapegoated (Part 2)