Family Roles: Scapegoat


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.

One comment

  1. 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.


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