For the past few months I have had a number of letters asking for help in understanding the psychology of scapegoaters. The writers, often self-identified scapegoats, wonders how their tormentors survive the difficult emotions that they should ... read more
For the past few months I have had a number of letters asking for help in understanding the psychology of scapegoaters. The writers, often self-identified scapegoats, wonders how their tormentors survive the difficult emotions that they should feel as they unjustly punish and abuse others.
My own experiences is that most abusers see themselves as abused. That helps because they feel that their acts are justified revenge, or its first cousin, retribution. For this type of scapegoater, the real-time victims are displacements from the abusers own painful memories, repetition behavior based on what was done to them by parents, bosses, and gangs. It gives them another chance not to feel like a helpless coward. And to get even even if it is years later. Unfortunately bullying others, as with other kinds of revenge behavior, may serve the emotional needs of the abuser. As the Sicilian’s proverb says, it is still tasty when served cold.
There are many other reasons for the scapegoater’s lack of sentient feelings toward the people and sub-groups they abuse. Many scapegoaters, in vivo versions of characters that show up in the media as sadists and serial killers, have severe pathology: e.g. a psychopathic failure to feel and/or adequately judge their own behavior. Paranoid character disorders and other mentally ill persons can manifest in this form. There is little point in quietly appealing to their “good” nature which has, for whatever cause, become distorted. Setting a limit is far wiser and more effective behavior.
Some of these letter writers ask why appealing to the best in people doesn’t work. Actually they would be better off appealing to what I have called complicitors, those of us who inadvertently support the scapegoating abuse of others. Family members are frequently guilty of being complicitors: parents, siblings and close friends who cannot bear to call someone they love on the carpet. Such behavior is understandable but ultimately hurts both the scapegoat and the scapegoated. It’s an easy way out, a way to stay uninvolved, but it has a cost. Appeasers end up feeling like cowards. Like co-dependents they end up supporting more and more harm to others. And they do feel guilt and that guilt lives beyond them in the very people they love.
June 29, 2015 Leave a Comment
We all bore witness to forgiveness at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The congregation members who lost love ones showed the power of that sentiment. They helped all ... read more
April 20, 2015 Leave a Comment
The effects of group and system behavior are long term, often beyond the scope and time line of what individuals care most about or even know and remember. This has profound effect on ... read more
January 27, 2015 1 Comment
Dr. Scapegoat believes complicitor is a noun whose time has come! It’s derived from the adjective complicit, which Merriam-Webster defines as “having to commit a crime ... read more
December 18, 2014 Leave a Comment
Dr. Scapegoat feels obliged to reiterate what we all know. Scapegoating is alive and well as never before. There are so many areas of the world, so many nations and corporations, ... read more
October 21, 2014 Leave a Comment
For a long time, I've been intrigued by the way leadership style trickles down in all beauracracies. The style of the leader, let's say the president or CEO, is emulated, copied, mimicked... all ways ... read more
September 26, 2014 Leave a Comment
Empires rise and fall and it is historically exciting to predict their beginnings and endings. The forces of instability that led to the so-called Arab uprising is linked to the first mention of a ... read more