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Hi, new reader here from StumbleUpon. Neat blog!

Is it me, or is there a fair bit of overlap between the victim role and the scapegoat role? It looks to me like Scapegoats might start out as Victims, but decide something along the lines of "well, if I'm going to be unhappy anyway, I may as well do it on my own terms rather than someone else's".

Ohh Adelene, good observation. That is exactly how it works sometimes. And yes, there can be a great deal of overlap between the victim and the scapegoat roles.

I'm glad you enjoyed the site.

You know, I've thought about this a lot. Long ago I identified myself as the pushover and I've "fixed" it. On the surface. However it still feels uncomfortable. I think interventionists often assume that if clients start behaving the "right" way and do what the therapist says it's just going to be better. I have a terrible time accepting compliments and I completely doubt people who offer kindness. I'm friends with them, I just don't trust them at all. I think some people are just going to feel kind of empty and isolated and in need of comfort and attention more than others. It's the greatest curse because the more you need the more you make it impossible to recieve.

Wow Nony,

You have made so many salient points I don't know where to begin. You are absolutely right about things not always getting better through a therapist's intervention. I also like what you say about clients behaving the "right" way. Right for whom? Who determines what is "right" and what is "wrong"? It shouldn't be the therapist.

A lot of times they get worse before they get better. Remembering trauma someone has spent years trying to forget brings up untold pain and fear. Facing their own foibles and taking responsibility for them is a bitter pill for most to swallow (I know it is for me). And, as you astutely point out, changing deeply ingrained behavior patterns can cause great discomfort and confusion. Therapists can be very good at telling people what not to be. But we can't, or shouldn't, tell them what TO be. They have to grope around in the dark and find that for themselves, and that is very, very hard and confusing work. Therapists can support them in the search and encourage them to trust themselves and their intuitions, but it has to originate within them. And yourself observations about having trouble accepting compliments and not trusting people's kindnesses are so pertinent. This is exactly what people out of the victim role experience and struggle with. I applaud the courage with which you engage in this battle. I grew up in a very hypercritical family and struggle with the same issues myself. Compliments are very uncomfortable, yet they also soothe my soul.

I love what you say,

"I think some people are just going to feel kind of empty and isolated and in need of comfort and attention more than others."

Absolutely. I not only think some people need more comfort and attention than others, I think some deserve it. I think that our democratic thinking causes Americans to think that we are all equal in every way. I think we should all have equal rights. But we have certainly not had equal lives. I have worked with clients who have suffered horrors I cannot imagine. Some of us, and I count myself in this group, move through life fairly easily. Others are bloodied and bruised every step of the way. I am always reminded of two clients in particular (their identifying information is fictionalized to protect their privacy):

One client was born in poverty to a mother heavily addicted to crack cocaine. He was born mentally retarded. She didn't immunize him against polio, so by the age of 5 he was crippled by it. As an adult he developed schizophrenia. Any one of these disorders would lay an average person low and he had all three of them. And none of them were the result of his choices or behavior.

The second client was a Bosnian refugee. I will not go into the very graphic details, but her entire family and extended family were destroyed in front of her eyes by the Serbs. Her husband, children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, everyone. And the way they were killed was horrific. The Serbs left her alive as a witness.

Though I wouldn't wish pity on either of these two people, and neither would want or accept it, I can't help but think that they not only need, but deserve, all the comfort and attention that can be rendered unto them.

Thank you for making me think - again. I really enjoy your comments.


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