In our family of origin, we each chose roles as our way to belong in the family. Possibly we were indirectly “assigned” these roles. However, we settled on two of the roles. One is our “doing” role (how we appear to others) and the other is our “being” role (the role we choose to solve our emotional problems through). The roles are family hero, scapegoat, lost child, and mascot.
Positive characteristics of the scapegoat:
Has many friends—good group leader and/or counselor—courage to reveal reality—sensitive to others’ feelings—handles stress well—commands attention
Negative characteristics of scapegoat:
Hostile—defiant—angry—rule-breaker—may be in trouble—may have legal trouble—irresponsible—manipulative
Inner feelings of scapegoat:
Major hidden feelings of scapegoat:
Rejection so rejects others first
Gift to the family:
Rebels to take focus away from other family members—provides distraction
To outgrow need scapegoat role, he/she needs to learn:
To learn conflict resolution rather than dealing with the difficulty by rebelling
To be assertive and tell others of his/her true feelings
To learn to identify the hurt under the anger and to recognize when they use anger to cover hurt
Techniques others may use to help scapegoat to give up using this role exclusively:
Don’t get caught up in the scapegoat’s cover of “anger” and allow the scapegoat to avoid feeling their hurt
To learn to negotiate rather then rebel
To help scapegoat to understand he/she has control over feelings of anger.
I was a scapegoat, and as I parent, I unwittingly assigned my oldest the role. I have watched as we have both striven to overcome damage done by families of origin and stop the generational abuse. Sigh, sigh–we are doing it alone as the others are too perfect to need the journey as we do.