The Family Scapegoat

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License by aka Quique

Dysfunctional families are those who are stuck in victim mentality. Every dysfunctional family needs a scapegoat.

What is victim mentality? It’s a state of mind that is perpetually looking for something “out there” to blame for the situations and encounters that are happening in life. Victim mentality is the result of a dysfunctional family system. When the significant caregivers in the family unconsciously react out of their own childhood woundedness they perpetuate dysfunction within their family unit. Failing to assume personal responsibility for their moods and behavior, they look for someone within the family to hold responsible for the problems and unhappiness they experience in life.

These families fall back on blame and shame in an effort to feel some sense of control over the powerlessness they feel inside. Being right becomes more important than personal accountability – they need someone who they can see as wrong – they need a scapegoat.

A scapegoat is the not-so-lucky family member who has been unconsciously assigned to be the family problem. They serve as key elements in maintaining the equilibrium in a dysfunctional system because they allow the family to maintain a sense of being functional by serving as the dysfunctional element. This promotes the denial needed for other family members to feel powerful and right. The rest of the family can be seen as a functional family unit – “if only so and so (name of scapegoat) wasn't such a problem!”

Every dysfunctional family has a scapegoat …. they provide a vital sense of overall health for the rest of the family.

Unfortunately scapegoats pay a high cost for playing this essential role for the family.

-more later –


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