Family Scapegoat

The family scapegoat is the individual who the family generally identifies and blames as being responsible for the family's problems. Other family members minimize or deny their own responsibility and/or participation in family problems and dramatically over estimate the culpability of the scapegoat. Many families have been greatly surprised or sadly disappointed when the departure or removal of the scapegoat has not improved or even cured family problems. After a scapegoat has left, most families simply find another one.

When someone is in the scapegoat role, that person is not necessarily "innocent" of all wrong doing. In fact, there is likely to be a negative and provocative personna in that person that invites and reflects a negative view from others.

The scapegoat phenomenon posesses two qualities. They must both be present in order to justify the use of this term. First, there must be a family prejudice towards the scapegoat that attributes more blame and responsibility for family issues then is warranted by the behavior of the individual. Second, the families participation in the scapegoating phenomenon serves to increase a cohesive bond between the other members. This bond is not supported by positive communication and qualities of these members. It is only maintained through family members persistent negative review of the scapegoat.

If your family believes its problems are due to one person it would be advisable for them to review with the help of a family counselor, the functioning of the family at large. It becomes amazing how little people blame the scapegoat when everyone else is carrying their own weight.

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