“They killed my mother and father,” Revenge Part I

They killed my mother and father. I will kill them with my knife. I will kill them like I would kill a goat.”  Kachadur Manukian (Syrian warrior)

So it begins, the immediacy of revenge, both horrible and thrilling. In his circumstanaces, I would feel the same. Most of us would, at least at the beginning. Most of us rarely act on statements like his but we’re not in the middle of a war in which killing is normalized.

Mr. Manukian’s uses the word ‘they.’ The revenge is generalized. His anger is still hot. The oft-quoted aphorism  “revenge is best served cold” doesn’t yet apply. Anyone who represent the ‘they‘ he is after with his knife will probably do. Any goat! Later he may struggle to better define his victim. Still later he may turn his anger into something less toxic, perhaps even something helpful to himself and others. But that is unlikely in a world of violence and repression.

The emotions and actions of revenge are astonishly difficult to track over time. The revenger begins as a victim, a scapegoat, full of self loathing and hate. But the archetype of the scapegoat contains more than victimage. Our heroes and messiahs begin as scapegoats. With reflection some of them evolve beyond simple revenge to something more complex, which may include  small acts of courage and compassion leading to individual transformation, or very large acts leading to changing the world.

I and most of my patients and advisees trod these paths in our lives. Friends and family too. What works for an individual or a small group varies too much to generalize. But each of us has been scapegoated and must figure out what might move us (and our community) beyond its trauma.

Revenge is rarely under control, which makes it a great subject for fiction and plays and even philosophy. I started writing my Revenge Inc. thrillers novels, Wiley and Dave territory, to explore all the possiblities of revenge. It has led me in strange directions. The first book, Cloud of Terns, was about a rape victim in a fraternity. The second book, Revenge of the Scapegoat, about to be published, is about mundane and terrifying violations in a scientific community. I’m at work on a revenge novel located in the world of music. Tentative title The Killlng Chord.

Revenge and its many ramifications continues to fascinate. It’s a good time for novelist and blogger to talk to each other.



  1. Looking forward to reading this next installment Dr. S!!

    • drscapegoat says:

      Dr.S has been influencing a new blog series all having to do with revenge. Check out the revenge and forgiveness blogs for example. (I’ll try to codify them soon.) What I do notice from questions and comments is that there is a need from questioners to emphasize forgiveness over revenge. Well, I totally understand that.It fits a purview of human beings as decent and full of common sense. The Revenge part I, “they killed my mother and father,” is the other side writ large. Compare it to Michaela’s response to gang rape in South Africa. Of course there is a difference in age and development and social context of the two protagonists. But humans are drawn to revenge even when they seem to appreciate people who reconcile and forgive in the abstract. Back to the scapegoat as a way of understanding that … It takes a long time for the traumatized scapegoat to get back to his group, if ever. With luck it finds some commonness outside the scapegoating group. Perhaps he or she founds his/her own group–what I call positive scapegoating. But the trauma is powerful and revenge is sweet. Dr. Scapegoat is interested in healing but not covering up. Stiching a wound without cleaning it out causes infection, even epidemics.

      Could you let me know more about what directions you want me/us to go in our dialogue and the blogs? Right now I am trying to figure out how my Revenge Inc. thriller novels fit into my thinking and how they have affected my philosophy. There is a new one out in a few weeks. When I reread it over the weekend I realized that the subject, the hero/antihero, was revenge itself. Also that the characters are all philosophers of revenge in action. I am eager for you to read it. I am biased but it is a great read. Dr. S

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