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A Possible Upside to Being Scapegoated by a Toxic Family

Scapegoated by my family

Please see the following article from Psychology Today. I certainly recognised me in the article and thought, yeah, yeah about any positive aspects until halfway through when I was stopped in my tracks...


  • Scapegoating is a specific form of verbal abuse that permits the family to think it is healthier than it is.

  • Made to feel like an outlier, the scapegoated child is often bullied by both parents and siblings.

  • Despite the psychological and emotional damage, the scapegoat is able to recognize the abuse and act on it.

Let’s be clear: there is nothing–I repeat nothing–that can be counted as positive about growing up the targeted scapegoat in your family of origin. Scapegoating is a specific form of verbal abuse that occurs in society on every level, including the family.

By naming one person (or group, depending on the context), the entity gets to pretend they’d be “perfect” or “thriving” if it weren’t for that one individual or group who’s responsible for everything that’s wrong.

That said, some interesting–if anecdotal–patterns emerged from interviews for my book Verbal Abuse from adults who had been scapegoated (and usually continued to be) by parents and, often, siblings.

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