What About Re-Inventing Ourselves?

What if we include self examination in the process? I was reading an article in the new york times, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/opinion/sunday/secret-ingredient-for-success.html, and it occurred to me that the process described (basically the reinvention of self without a change of context) could be looked at as the scapegoating of ones self, which then allows for reinvention.

Can we at times avoid external scapegoating if we are willing to look within?

Can we in fact ‘eat our own sin’?

Edward

Comments

  1. drscapegoat says:

    Dear Edward:
    You are definitely on to something important which I will also write about my next blog.

    I have defined scapegoating as a group process. Put another way scapegoating is the central archetype of all group life. Scapegoating had its origin in the earliest human groups; the group gives it its power and is the medium through which scapegoating works and changes the course of human events. Grasping that scapegoating is a group process has the salutary effect of counteracting our need (since the Enlightenment) to want everything to revolve around our individual natures (and therefore greater apparent control). In fact, all scapegoating happens outside of any one individual’s control.

    Group theorists often talk about ‘the group in the mind’ to make the link you looking for. What happens in groups, particularly powerful processes like scapegoating, remains with us and then forms important inner structures for self examination. (That’s also how a child develops out of the family group and becomes a complicated human being.) The group in the mind is a good concept as long as one doesn’t get too caught up in the seductive fascinations of our inner process and ignores the outer groups ongoing influence and power in our lives.

    I talk about the positive scapegoat in one of my blogs which might help even more . Scapegoating is almost always painful and abusive. After all, the group scapegoats when a personality, energy, or idea disturbs the status quo. Most of us are willing to put up with the inertia, homogeneity, authoritarianism and the boredom of groups in return for love, caring and acceptance—a home—as well not having to face the pain and danger of expulsion and being on ones own. But if one survives ‘the desert’ with all its dangers and loneliness, painful self examination may unleash amazing creative forces heretofore unrealized. These forces may be applied to the reinvention of self you describe. The positive scapegoat, the messiah in the extreme case, may recreate his or her life or create a brilliant idea which he may take elsewhere or even risk bringing back to the original scapegoating group.

    Can this process of recreating oneself happen entirely in ones own mind?. Rarely. Look closely and there is the scapegoating process doing its abusive, disruptive magic. Can we avoid external scapegoating if we are willing to look within? Perhaps but again if one look closely the push to look within and transform oneself comes from external scapegoating process. We always need to deal with the group because in the most basic sense we are the group .

    The hope of Dr. Scapegoat and others who want to reformulate scapegoating as a positive as well as destructive process is that self examination can mitigate some its negative effects . But that requires many in a given group who are willing and capable of intense and honest self examination, of eating their own sins, as you put it.. And when is the last group you saw with that potential?

    • Dr. Scapegoat

      I enjoy the desert metaphor, in fact I enjoy most of the metaphors of the old testament. They are so starkly human.

      I’ve always thought that most of us go through a desert of sorts as we journey through adolescence and approach personhood. It is also true that most of us do not wish to revisit that act of creation.

      Success as described in the NYT article must be defined by the larger group, in the same way you have defined scapegoating as arising from a group process, and I guess it’s true.

      What was it Obama said… “You didn’t build that”

      • drscapegoat says:

        So many simply try to stay out of the desert and be careless about their acts of creations. That usually doesn’t put off the reality of sacrifice as a critical part of the human path. Or the need to return to the group with what one has learned.
        Since scapegoating can be a nasty business, I wonder if anyone has felt creative without that desert journey.
        Dr. Scapegoat

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