No surprisingly, since my last post in June, given the current events, Dr. Scapegoat has recieved several emails from Africa and the Middle East about the definition of Scapegoating in politics and warfare. More specifically, ... read more
No surprisingly, since my last post in June, given the current events, Dr. Scapegoat has recieved several emails from Africa and the Middle East about the definition of Scapegoating in politics and warfare. More specifically, how do we understand the continuation of mutually destructive points of view, backed up by rhetoric, kidnaping and war, in terms of scapegoating dynamics? Does it help in any way to do that ?
Great questions prompted, I think, by frustration and agony.
I will take a try at answering. As I keep reiterating, scapegoating is a group and collective process. By scapegoating a person, subgroup or even an idea, the group keeps a homogeneity which allows identity, comfort and the status quo. If you look at my South African Scapegoating TedX talk on You Tube, or dip into the book Up from Scapegoating you’ll find descriptions and diagrams about how scapegoats are constructed and then expelled by the group. One of the pre-scapegoating dynamics is “jockeying for position”, basically politicking for power and alliances that will allow for dominance, at the least expelling some one beside oneself from the group.
Part of the this jockeying process results in many different pairs, alliances, and oppositions being formed, all prelimiary to collective decision about who gets scapegoated. But if the group gets stuck in oppositional pairing, and there is no third or fourth position, or some compromise within the group or intervention from the outside, the aggressive pairing just goes on and on. Eventually the group loses any sense of purpose except managing this opposition and adds revenge dynamics which as we know can last a very long time indeed.
This may seem overly complicated but we see the process in almost every group with major issues at stake. As implied above there is almost always the need in these situations for a special person or force, from within or outside the collective involved, representing a bridge between the two positions to help move the group forward. People who take up this challenge have to be very skillful; often they help by themselves becoming the group scapegoat.
Unfortunatelywhen scapegoating occurs in political venues and in particular in and between nation state groups, these oppositional pairings may play out as wars. One point of view literally attempts to eject and destroy the other. the loser often moves into the revenge dynamic as Germany and Hitler did between World War One and Two.
June 7, 2014 1 Comment
Why are high school and college students on a rampage against their peers? Eliot Rodgers' horrifying mayhem in Santa Barbara is so well documented by therapists, friends, police and parents that we ... read more
March 20, 2014 Leave a Comment
Hazing. It’s an activity I particularly dislike. Pain, humiliation and shaming are invoked to “make men and women” out of boys and girls. Think of it like whipping our kids--or slaves, when slaves ... read more
February 6, 2014 Leave a Comment
A rather vexing cartoon from last weeks New Yorker had this lead: “Dan and Irene’s communication problems improve thanks to Richard, their couples therapist.” The picture shows Dan with his arm ... read more
December 2, 2013 5 Comments
Dear Dr. Scapegoat: My question has to do with children. My child’s mother and my family have singled me out as being the problem in the family and cut me out. I have joint custody so my son is with ... read more
November 7, 2013 Leave a Comment
Thanks to All-American lineman Jonathan Martin, we hear that locker room culture in the NFL caters to racism, bullying to “toughen up young players," and all manner of hazing and extortion ... read more
October 31, 2013 Leave a Comment
Being a Good Victim Nicholas Kristoff quotes a Chinese saying, ‘we lifted up a rock and dropped it on our own feet.’ I think he was referring to the intelligence scandal but lately it could apply to ... read more