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Development of CPTSD in Childhood => Causes => Personality Disorder/Mental Illness (Perpetrator) => Topic started by: jdcooper on February 17, 2017, 04:49:32 PM

Title: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: jdcooper on February 17, 2017, 04:49:32 PM
A discussion came up on a recent post I made about whether it is healthy to dig around and try and figure out why you were chosen as the scapegoat.  My therapist encourages my curiosity about this and I have been asking my mom (not the narcissist) about what she thinks.  I  have also been exploring with my therapist the possibility of multi-generational family dysfunction and family resemblance as playing a role.

How many of you think (a) its a waste of emotional resources and possibly even damaging to explore why you were chosen for the scapegoat role or (b) it's interesting and helpful to explore why you were chosen to be the scapegoat to put everything into perspective.

On the one hand opponents of trying to figure out why you were scapegoated - think it may lead to self-blame, i.e., I was the bad child, the needy child etc and that is why I was chosen.

On the other hand, proponents of trying to figure out why you were chosen as a scapegoat might think that there is some useful information to be discovered i.e. that you resemble someone your narcissistic parent feels strongly about, or they may be jealous of you because your status of the golden child of a grandparent or any other family dynamic. That all of that information helps you put it into perspective and process it.

What are your thoughts?

Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: Blueberry on February 17, 2017, 07:14:16 PM
For myself, now I'd say  pretty much a). 
During the course of healing I've had lightbulb moments - oh, that's (probably) why they scapegoated me! I certainly used to ask myself why why why??? But I guess you're right about putting things into perspective. After these lightbulb moments, it did help me begin to realise that the scapegoating didn't actually have anything to do with me personally. So I'm not a bad person intrinsically.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: Three Roses on February 18, 2017, 03:29:54 AM
For me, figuring out why I was the one that got the brunt of the physical abuse helped me see that my abuser was the one who had problems, and that it wasn't me who did anything wrong - I was just in his path.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: daughterdaughter on May 13, 2017, 07:35:27 PM
I can say that my instinct was to figure out my abusive father. It didn't harm me, it helped me understand how and why.

I was the scapegoat because I was strong, I was the only one who could stand up to him and above all *gasp* I was a woman. How dare I?

He had a strong mother who abused him, so seeing and understanding that he was threatened by strong women helped my break the cycle.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: Blackbird on May 14, 2017, 06:42:52 AM
I belong in the b) scenario.

I think I was the scapegoat because my drug use and erractic behaviour led everyone to blame their frustrations on the one who was too similar to the nominated abuser.

What's sinister is that even though I was the scapegoat, I was always regarded as the favorite of the family. That title was later rightly attributed to my middle sister who helps everyone who goes through a crisis, including me, leading me back to being the scapegoat who can't do anything right but has to be perfect all the time, continuing the mascaraded scapegoating.

There is an incredible pressure for me to be perfect, to not show any flaws. If I do, I'm immediatly the bad apple again. This has both to do with scapegoating and mental health stigma.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: blues_cruise on May 21, 2017, 09:59:56 AM
I was the youngest of three children and the only girl. My mum (not a narc) loved me and we had a bond, which my father and middle brother were envious of. I was naturally a thoughtful, sensitive child so it was extremely easy to have my good nature taken advantage of. I think it just came down to the path of least resistance for NF, typical bully.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: Bohemian_ on June 29, 2017, 09:42:46 PM
My narc father is a lawyer and pretty conservative. I was the free spirited, creative child who didn't have the same opinions and interests as him (and my biggest dream was to work as a musician, what a shame!). I guess it wasn't easy to shape me into what he wanted me to be. I believe that's why I became the scapegoat. Maybe it's a compliment in a way...

My little brother (we're three, I'm the oldest) has always been the golden child. He's more like our father (not narcissistic though), and shares the same interests as him. After I cut the contact with my father five and a half years ago, my sister took over the role as the scapegoat. She is a lot like me.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: writetolife on June 29, 2017, 10:28:14 PM
This is a super interesting question.  I'm still deciding if I was actually the scapegoat, but I probably was because I felt like I was the one who emotionally took responsibility for what was going on, I was the one who showed up with all of the mental health problems, and I was the one who seemed to receive the largest amount of abuse from d. 

For me, I want to know a) if I really was the scapegoat and b) why on earth I was chosen so that a) I know what leaves me more targeted or vulnerable and so b) I can have more peace about it. 

I have heard/suspect that in many cases people are scapegoated for qualities that are actually positive, but undermine the narcissist's authority.  For example, I was the one in my family who was most likely to overtly question d's decisions, the one the most likely to call him out for his hurtful behavior, and, heaven forbid, the one the most likely to challenge his image of being highly intellectual by pointing out the gross logic flaws in his gaslighting behavior.  I had to be stopped, so I went from being the golden child as a little kid (when I believed that he was perfect), to the one who was the focus of the insults, the manipulation, etc.  He almost successfully used scapegoating to destroy my strength. 
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: Fictionalizer on July 05, 2017, 07:00:47 PM
I wanted to know why I was the scapegoat. Only recently I discovered a brother was a scapegoat too. We were the middle children and the most creative, both musically inclined, and emotionally sensitive.

Ultimately the reason I was scapegoated: My Nmother had an affair and I am the child from that affair. I hadn't fully accepted that until my Nmother died in 2010 though I first mentioned it in 2005 to my therapist. After she died repressed memories flooded through for the next several years. It was the second time in my life that I had flooding of memories. One memory came to me recently about the first time my Nmother harped on me because I wasn't like my brothers. I was six years old. What she didn't like about me wasn't something I could change; I had a different father. Her attack on me was so vicious that my stepdad had to step in to stop her.

After the flooding of memories, my life finally made sense even down to the trigger which caused me to enter therapy for the third time in my life back in 1988.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: songbirdrosa on July 06, 2017, 08:12:20 AM
It certainly helped me to figure out why my FOO did what they did. My father is a textbook psychopath, so that was basically all the reason he needed. My mother I'm still trying to unravel, but I'm starting to see hints of what was going on under the surface with her. My brother is rather trickier. I'm not even sure if I'm ready to go down that path yet, or if I ever want to. I'll have to face it eventually, I'm sure. Pretending it didn't happen never did me any good.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: Gromit on August 04, 2017, 04:58:25 PM
I can say that my instinct was to figure out my abusive father. It didn't harm me, it helped me understand how and why.

I was the scapegoat because I was strong, I was the only one who could stand up to him and above all *gasp* I was a woman. How dare I?

Although it is my mother who is the issue this resonated with me. I was the one who questioned and stood up to her even if it just got me the description 'difficult'.

Since having children and learning something about infants as well as my mother's history other things fell into place. My mother did not look after my older sibling, she was hospitalised with mental health issues and family members stepped in. When she had 'recovered' her child was a year old, and probably sleeping through the night, maybe even talking. She wasn't supposed to have more children because she hadn't coped with the first. But have me she did. As I learnt, second time around every one assumes you know how to look after a baby, but I doubt my mother did, she didn't have the instinct for it, which was apparent when she was with my first born. Neither did I, but I learnt fast. It is hard, a steep learning curve.  So, I wasn't the well behaved baby that she got 1st time around, I was difficult. Her first child was 'compliant', I wasn't.

My mother was also adept at using her illness. That may sound harsh but I saw it used to effect when she wanted something to happen. If you didn't do what she wanted after a normal request she would use her phobias to make you, she would not be reasoned with. My father had tried everything, nothing madea difference so hehad given up. she told him lies, and he believed it all.

now I am NC and then profess not to have any idea why. me being difficult again.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: peanut78 on November 01, 2017, 07:30:40 PM
Newb here. I'm an only child/scapegoat. My mother was a well-behaved "lost child," always in the shadow of her older siblings. She wan't scapegoated, but never got the credit she feels she deserved for "never giving her parents trouble." I believe I was scapegoated for two reasons: 1) I came along by surprise. I always felt the resentment from her because she "couldn't have a life" because of me, and 2) I was supposed to be a reflection of her, but a dimmer one. I was supposed to be the perpetually inferior one so that she could have her "turn" to "be in charge" and positively compare herself to someone (since she had been compared negatively to her siblings on occasion). For instance, if I didn't have to study as hard as her in a particular subject and received higher grades than she had, my high grade "didn't count" because I "didn't study enough." If I struggled in something at which she excelled, she'd brag about how she LOVED that subject and always found such "satisfaction" in it. She would FREQUENTLY compare me negatively to my best friend, her boss's daughter, and, of course, herself as a child. She would smear me to family members, sometimes in front of me. She always gave me the impression that she wished I was someone else - like she got the wrong kid or something. Nothing was ever good enough. If what I did was what she said she wanted, the goal posts got moved and it still wasn't good enough.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: Dee on November 02, 2017, 03:49:00 AM


Welcome!  I'm sorry for your experience.
Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: I like vanilla on November 02, 2017, 05:01:17 AM
I am naturally curious so generally try to figure things out.

For me (completely anecdotally) I would get ticked off when my old T tried to figure out why my father, mother, and/or brother were abusive. I did not care what made them treat me badly and felt they could go to their own therapists to figure things out. I also really resented that while my T said that the exercise was to 'prove to me that my family was abusive due to their flaws rather than mine' I could tell (I am very intraspective) that for her is was a mental exercise... She was a crappy therapist (likely still is but she is no longer mine thank the Goddess).

BUT I did want to know how, of my many siblings I was chosen as the scapegoat in my family. That was important as it seemed that the only reason was that I was the scapegoat because there was something very wrong with me - I was blaming myself for it. I did a bunch of reading and rather than leading to self blame, what I discovered actually alleviated the self blame.

**spoiler alert**  ;) usually the child who is chosen as the scapegoat is put in this role NOT because there is something wrong with that chid BUT because theres is something 'too RIGHT' about the child. The scapegoated child is usually the gifted, sensitive, conscientious, mature, and/or responsible child in the family. Such a gifted child is a threat to the parent's/parents' fragile ego(s) and so is demeaned and abused and dismissed at every turn in order to 'prove' to that child, any siblings, and of course to the parents that rather than there being 'something special' about the child there is something wrong.

Generally too, the scapegoated child is the one who notices the dysfunction and abuse in their families. These children might not necessarily know that the family is dysfunctional or abusive in an objective way (children often see their families as 'normal' even when they are abusive). But these children are the ones who notice that punishments are unfair, that rules have arbitrarily been changed, that a sibling got unfairly cheated out of a promised reward for a behaviour (no TV even though the homework was done), etc. This child is dangerous to an abusive family system and the parents who run it. Again, the scapegoating process, including the related gaslighting help to destroy the credibility of this child so that the family can continue to (dys)function in the abusive way that it always had.

So, from my perspective, OK supported by some research, it is generally good to figure out why you were scapegoated. However, I have a sense that asking family members for explanations is perhaps a misguided idea. These family members were all part of the same dysfunctioning and abusive system and all participated, actively or as unwilling/unwitting participants and witnesses in supporting that system. My suspicion (and experience) is that asking 'why was I the scapegoat' would bring responses that fit the family script. I got phrases such as  'you were always so sensitive', 'you were such a troublemaker', 'you were too mouthy', etc. all of which fit the family script better than the truth 'I am sensitive and empathetic' so 'I noticed when things were going wrong' (converted to troublemaker) and incorrectly thought that 'pointing out the problems would be helpful' (now called mouthy). I think some of my family members were actively lying to me, others were telling me what they believed because of what they had learned from our family's mythology.

The take away idea: if you were scapegoated there is a fairly high probability that it was because you were the gifted one in the family. It is also unlikely that family members will ever say that to you because the ones who know it will lie and the others believe that lies that the ones in the know tell (unless they have gone for a substantial amount of therapy or similar work themselves).

Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: ah on November 02, 2017, 03:05:30 PM
I think it's a really interesting question but I'd never ask my FOO, it'd be a bit like asking a rattlesnake why it keeps biting me.
Even the relatively kind members of my "family", the empathic ones, weren't quite as kind as they'd want to believe. They never helped, never took a stand or took responsibility for their own actions.
But I do think about it and wonder about the dynamics of it.

One reason I think is dysfunctional families need a scapegoat, so someone's going to be it. They can't survive without a scapegoat, it's the glue that holds their craziness together. I guess it might end up being the child who attracts the most attention.

I have a hard time seeing my own worth (because I feel I have none...) but I totally agree it's often the child who's the most sensitive, caring, compassionate, smart, socially aware who ends up the scapegoat because they'd pose more danger of exposure.

Someone else needed a scapegoat, we happened to be there, so we were used like pawns. It's mind boggling to realize we were used to such an extent, with no realization that we're living beings.

In my case my older sibling was silent whereas I talked back and attracted attention to myself, so I was it. I exposed my values and empathy by trying to protect my sibling, so I paid for it. My sibling never protected me, only used and hurt me too, so I guess I fit the scapegoat profile, my sibling didn't fit.

Plus I was a good source of narcissistic supply because I was a prodigy. This made me the perfect choice. The whole family gravitated around me and put impossible pressure on me. I was both the golden child and the scapegoat, constantly in the center of attention with demented extreme bizarre rules made just for me because I was "different" from all other kids. It wasn't ever love, it was attention. I was sucked dry then discarded when I couldn't be used anymore.

i like vanilla,
I think they were abusive because they're abusive people. I'd resist that sort of exercise too. I won't normalize abuse by giving it sensible narratives, pain doesn't excuse abuse.
Serial killers have their "why"'s too but that doesn't stop the system from punishing them if they're caught.
I'm glad you're not with that therapist anymore :)

Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: M.R. on November 02, 2017, 03:45:27 PM
To be safe there could be a trigger in here...I don't go into any real detail so I hope there isn't.

Since I started therapy 9 years ago I have always had the questions of 'why'. And of course one of the questions was why was it all my fault? I have only figured out that question in the last year.

My mother was a very complicated abuser. I heard my mother say how much she wanted a daughter from the time I was born. She already had three sons by the time I came into the picture. But the only problem is that I didn't fit her mold. (My father and his side of the family have really bold features- big lips, unique eyes etc- while my mother and her side of the family have very small features.) I came into this world looking almost identical to my father. And she resented me from the moment she layed eyes on me the first time. From the beginning she started laying down the foundation for the rest of my life.

She started grooming me before I could walk. My father has told me in these past few years how she would always tell him how pretty I was and how "much influence I'll have over men to do what I want them to do". After my father was forced out of the picture, the other part of her plan came to be.

She convinced me and others that all I had going for me was my looks because I was so stupid that I couldn't tell the difference between ugliness and beauty. Meaning I couldn't connect the dots. She treated and got her family and strangers to treat me like I had autism or another disease such as that. So I was a brainless beauty.

And all this lead to everything I was put through and the fact that I had no thought or say in what happened or how it happened. My mother took on the responsibility of deciding for me.

After my whole speal, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was the blame because I wasn't what she wanted.

Title: Re: Do you want to know why you were chosen as the scapegoat?
Post by: RedRat on November 13, 2017, 09:54:14 PM
It would make sense that they usually pick the smarter, more empathic and hence more dangerous child.
I think in our family at least it was much simpler:
My father (an open narcissist) wanted a child to show his brothers that he is capable of fathering a child. His brothers have been teasing him for years that he was impotent. So when he met my mother he impregnated her immediately and they married in a hurry. Once my mothers pregnancy was visible he lost any interest. My mother (who has a personality disorder herself) decided she wanted a child of her own. "One that was truly hers" as she always loved to say. My dad didn't want another one as he had already proven his virility. So this time she tricked him in to getting another child.
Since my father never showed any interest in us it was my mother who made the rules. So I ended up as the scapegoat and my brother as the golden child.

Like many golden ones he ended up without  a distinct character. He is pretty much a blank slate personality wise and hence got diagnosed as an Asperger autistic. I don't buy that for a second.
He took me in to his flat when I was at the brink of getting homeless. We have only argued once in two years despite the heavy fighting that my mother usually incinerated when we were kids. He is very patient with me when I am depressed or anxious. He doesn't talk much and would never take me in his arms. But he notices very fast when I am upset.  Then he would usually take one of his rats out of the cage and put it on my belly so I would have someone to cuddle. He has also paid some of my debts behind my back and never spoken a word about it. There is no doubt that he is very empathic underneath that seemingly blank surface. Also he is possibly the smarter of the two of us EQ wise. Since his teenager years he straight out refuses to tell our parents anything personal while I still let myself be tricked when our parents show "concern". He has a high intelligence and I believe he is well aware of what is going on even if he can't really point a finger on it.
I am really lucky to have him. Two parents with a personality disorder might have made it harsher when we were children. There was simply no save haven anywhere. But in the end it made it more obvious how dysfunctional our family was. I had the luck of ending up with at least a bit of family and a normal family life and that is possibly more than most others get.
How ever, I would postulate that in our case it was rather random who would be picked for a specific role. It was decided before we were even born.