Table of contents:
- It would be very cool if children, growing up, somehow magically freed themselves from the role of the scapegoat, in which they found themselves in childhood. However, this is not the case. Many patients suffer from Complex PTSD due to being the family scapegoat. This role leads to the fact that they are in a state of psycho-emotional paralysis and feel devalued, reaching thoughts of suicide
- What does it mean to be the family scapegoat?
Video: Are You The Scapegoat For Your Family? 10-item Questionnaire - Quality Of Life, Self-development
2023 Author: Oswald Adamson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 12:13
It would be very cool if children, growing up, somehow magically freed themselves from the role of the scapegoat, in which they found themselves in childhood. However, this is not the case. Many patients suffer from Complex PTSD due to being the family scapegoat. This role leads to the fact that they are in a state of psycho-emotional paralysis and feel devalued, reaching thoughts of suicide
What does it mean to be the family scapegoat?
Scapegoat syndrome is a complex of symptoms that, judging by my clinical practice, often develop in a person who has found himself in the role of a "scapegoat" or "identified patient" in his own family.
See also: Invisible scapegoat wounds
This disorder occurs when parents and other important family members (grandparents, dominant siblings, or other influential relatives) “designate” you as “defective,” and constantly broadcast a message that you are “bad,” “different,” or "Not good enough."
Some children experience deep trauma as a result of the scapegoat experience. For example, I once worked with a family in which there was a five-year-old boy who was three times subjected to the ritual of casting out demons in front of the entire church community: after all, his parents believed that his behavior indicated demonic possession. The boy went to a school for children with severe emotional disorders.
Can you imagine how this man, already an adult now, can suffer to this day?
Below is a list of questions with which you can assess to what extent you are a scapegoat. So, how common are the following signs, symptoms, and experiences?
Questionnaire. Have you been the scapegoat of your own family?
- Have you often heard “stories” about yourself as a child, have you been exposed to “smear campaigns” or subtle forms of “distortion of reality” (so-called “gaslighting”), as a result of which you feel bad, different from others, less important or defective?
- Were you a “problem child” or “identified patient” in your family of origin (or are you still trying to free yourself from these stifling roles today)?
- Do you consider yourself "codependent" or "highly sensitive" and "empathic"?
- Were you a "truth-seeker" in your family? When you said what you thought, or contradicted the "official version" of family history that was imposed by one or both parents (or other dominant family members or relatives), were you considered "bad" and "a liar"?
- Is it difficult for you to have a healthy, mutually respectful relationship with any of your brothers / sisters? Do you have a dominant brother or sister who treats you in the same way as a dysfunctional (aggressive) parent (maybe he has led “smear campaigns” that support your image of “defective”)?
- Are you struggling with addiction or codependency (or both)?
- Do you find it difficult to identify your own desires, needs, thoughts and feelings? Do you think it is better to keep silent once more in order to “keep the peace” and / or avoid conflict at any cost?
- As an adult, have you had problems forming healthy, mutually respectful, trusting relationships?
- Are you chronically anxious, depressed and / or struggling with serious self-doubt, including Impostor Syndrome ?
- Have you decided to limit contact with one or more (aggressive) family members, but doubt that this is the right decision, and / or feel guilty, shame, feel "bad" or "wrong" because of distance from your family?
If you answered yes to three or more questions and you feel distorted by others, then you may be the scapegoat (or “identified patient”) in the family.
Abuse of power is abuse
One of the most important things that happens when I start working with clients on my Scapegoat Healing Psychotherapy and Coaching program is to help them realize that they have been imprisoned for life in a role imposed on them. holders of power in their family system.
I explain to my clients that they have been deprived of their own personal narrative - their unique life story that each of us as humans has the right to create for ourselves. Instead, they were forced to have a different, negative and shameful story - one that was told by dominant family members that turned them into scapegoats.
I also emphasize the fact that if a person is appointed the scapegoat, it means that he is being bullied on an ongoing basis, and naturally, in such a situation, he has many feelings that need to be worked out: depression, anxiety, anger, shame, grief. from the feeling of being deprived of important rights, as well as (unconscious "toxic") shame - and that's not all.
Healing from Scapegoat Abuse
While working to break free from dysfunctional family roles and other people's stories is not easy, many of my clients have found that they can free themselves from the past and the injustices they have suffered. This allowed them to live a joyful, sincere, energetic life, based on love and respect for themselves, clarity, compassion and integrity.
I myself also had to go through the process of healing from a similar trauma. The years of confusion, isolation and pain when I was an “identified patient” in my family not only brought me suffering, I was also able to learn a lot from this experience. But if someone told me this when I was deeply immersed in my anger, grief and confusion, it would be very difficult for me to believe it. Perhaps such an assumption would even upset me!
When my clients don't believe they can recover from such a devastating form of mental and emotional systemic abuse, I say, "Don't believe, just consider the possibility." After all, I saw with my own eyes how many of my clients, who found themselves in the role of scapegoats, recovered, were healed and subsequently led a holistic, rich, vibrant life with a purpose and purpose. And as a family scapegoat in recovery myself, I know firsthand that it is possible to heal those who have experienced this kind of family abuse, even in the most serious forms.
Needless to say, the emotional pain experienced by a family member who is the scapegoat can be extremely intense. And yet, healing is always possible. If you answered yes to some of the questions above, you might want to share this information with your counselor if you are already working with someone.
If you haven't started working with a psychologist yet, you may want to find a trauma-ready professional who understands family systems and the psycho-emotional consequences of being in such a destructive role in the family.
- By Rebecca Mandeville, MA, Family Therapist
- Translator: Kiril Melamud
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