Being a Good Scapegoat

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 almost everything our government is doing; I hope some of the rocks are aimed well in the right directions as well. I may be wrong.

But it set Dr. Scapegoat thinking about   numerous questions from   my blog readers about what creates a scapegoat. They often disagree with my point of view, that scapegoating is largely a group rather than an individual phenomena. What these people say   usually goes something like this. “Isn’t being a scapegoat a self-inflicted wound? Don’t Scapegoats bring on their fate through their own behavior?”

Scapegoats often feel this way. They blame themselves for what happens to them. They see the pattern repeated wherever they go so how could it be otherwise.

It’s a painful but deceptively easy place to hide from the hell of being a scapegoat but blaming oneself   gets the dynamic wrong and also prevents successful action. Of course certain patterns of behavior and personality are friction points for groups who need a victim (and they all do). And in the process of choosing a scapegoat, groups will always look for easy marks, for fall guys and gals. But the point to remember is where and how scapegoating begins. Groups have needed scapegoats ever since our species began needing to solve difficult conflicts and sacrificial alternatives presented a way out, meaning it’s been around from the very beginning of our human history.  Certain individuals and sub groups fit well into a given group, others don’t and that changes with the times and culture. Jocks don’t so well in Nerd groups and visa versa. But the need is always there; it’s a role which needs to be filled.

Blaming oneself for being a scapegoat is not only inaccurate but prevents finding a way out of the role, that is psyching out the group process so that he or she develops a strategy to turn it  around. Unfortunately that’s often at someone else’s expense. Aye, there’s the rub. Sometimes being a victim is easier.imagesimgres

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