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« "Unhappy people watch more television, happy people read/socialize more" | Main | Let's You and Him Fight »

November 23, 2008


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OMG! After years of counseling and medication I finally find out it really isn't me! You have no idea how significant your article is.

All my life I have been an outcast in my own family. I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters (1 of which is a psychopath) I have never had anyone to count on, to lean on for support. I cannot count the number of times I have been told "I don't want to end up like you" or "You created this situation, you get yourself out of it." and other stuff.

Every time I tried to stand up for myself, I was told, this is not the time or the place, or why can't you get along with your sisters?

I am the ONLY ONE in the family who doesn't drink or do drugs. I always thought if I tried harder, did better, or whatever, they would like me. But no matter what I did it was never good enough.

Even when I was married the torment didn't end. My psychopathic sister would tell my alcoholic/drug addicted husband lies about me. He believed her. When I had problems with the neighbors, he believed them. Everyone told me what a great guy he was, but I never saw it. I now know he was "gaslighting" me.

I was diagnosed as mentally ill and suicidal. After years of being manipulated and tormented who wouldn't be? I have a few close friends who have to remind me of the good I have done to get me through the rough days. If it wasn't for them and my kids, I'd probably be dead.

I did cut off my sisters and my husband years ago. I have little contact with my parents and brothers. Thanks to some very good counselors and medication, I have made it out of the desert and back into civilized life. But I know I could never trust anyone ever again. When your own family denies you the basic necessities of life - who can you trust?

Wow, Im so sorry to hear everything you have been through. It sounds like you truly have some sociopaths in your family. Who else could so completely convince everyone around you that you are the crazy one? And what a perfect scapegoat for a group of addicts? Someone who is crazy! I see this so much. People are labeled as crazy because they dont participate in the family dysfunction. Then they come to me for help. I cant help them because they arent crazy, lol. The only help I can provide is to convince them of this. And its made so much harder when they have a psychiatrist diagnosing and medicating them. It really disturbs me that we are trained to so blindly believe anything a doctor says. Doctors are only people and they are as fallible as the rest of us. I wish
we could ask for and receive medication we need to keep us together while we work to heal, without having to have a mentally ill label forced upon us.

Im pleased to hear that you have true friends around you who seem to give you more realistic feedback about the kind of person you truly are. I can certainly understand why you trust issues. This is a major problem when our own families are the source of our problems. We learn not to trust anyone. As you so aptly ask, if you cant trust your own family, who can you trust?

Im also pleased to hear you have placed boundaries between yourself and those who harmed you. I hope that your friends continue to be trustworthy and healthy. Perhaps in the future you will believe that some people might be trusted, though not family.

Its good to hear thatall your hard work is starting to pay off. Welcome back to civilization.May you find more peace here than in the desert. It sounds like you are off to a very good start...

I've just started the theraputic process of first answering the why question, the why being I am the scapegoat, and secondly delving into the journey of recinding the role and healing.

There is something I can't wrap my head around though, and that is the, "you were meant to go through this" BS party line. What kind of lame-ass reason/excuse is that? Does that mean I was born to be abused? My family tells me I was meant to go through this, they tell me to get better find help, and that I WAS MEANT TO GO THROUGH THIS. Is that how they are trying to absolve themselves? Why is their behavior not transparent to outsiders? Why do I have to do all the convincing?

Geezuz, I went from fairly calm at the start of this note to smoking four cigarettes in the 10 minutes it's taken me to write this. Sorry if I triggered anyone by the way.

Please stop using "subconscious". These people know EXACTLY what they are doing. How do I know? Often they LAUGH after they say or do something hurtful to you. The actions are too deliberate to be subconscious - so please stop excusing it. Think about the scene in Million Dollar Baby when the daughter purchased the mom a house - the mom and sister blamed, mocked & berated her. That's the only example I can use for someone who apparently has never been on the receiving end of scapegoat treatment.


That is exactly the purpose of the Scapegoat - to be the "visible" dysfunction. By being so visible the Scapegoat distracts from the hidden dysfunction of the family system. By comparison the rest of the family gets to look "normal" or "perfect".


I agree some behaviors are very calculated and very deliberate and not subconscious at all. But in the case of families, patterns of behavior, like scapegoating, are handed down from generation to generation. They are so deeply entrenched so indelibly etched into the family history that the family members themselves are not aware of them.

In fact, the entire concept of the family acting as a system is rather alien to the American psyche. We like to think of ourselves as rugged individualists who answer to and are affected by no one. For an individual family member to realize that they are playing a part in a much bigger drama is often startling.

In the matter of the scapegoat role, families don't sit down one day and take a vote and decide to make "Sam" the Scapegoat. It is not a conscious decision. They usually don't even realize there is a "blame game" going on. At best there is only the disquieting feeling that they must keep Sam in his place as the "bad" one. They often don't even realize what drives this feeling - the fear that if Sam resigns as the bad one, someone else will have to take his place and that someone might be them.

Hi Colleen,

That's really brilliant! If it was "meant to be" then it's not their fault or their responsibility. What a great cop out on their part! But you realized that already. Trust what you know and how you feel.

As far as convincing others, I think it is most important to convince yourself. In most cases, other people take us for what we tell them we are - at least initially. We can disprove this over time if we present a false front, but in the beginning we are usually accepted for who we say we are. So it's most important to know you are OK yourself. Other people will follow.

What others choose to believe about the rest of the family is on them. Work your own program and let others work theirs.

Time will always tell.

It has taken me 57 years to understand the reason for my scapegoating in my family...I was the Truth-teller and those caught up in the lies/sickness will kill the messenger in order to avoid facing their pain. Scapegoats are the strongest, yes, because we are the ones who "rock the boat" --who stand up to the sick status-quo.
For me---I no longer care what they think or do to me--I speak to truth. Though I do pray for our family's healing, I have let go...It is their karma that will haunt them, not mine.


Thank you for bringing that up - the letting go. This is also something a lot of scapegoats are strong enough to do and it always amazes me. Instead of getting caught holding grudges or hanging onto the pain they are often the ones who are strong enough to let it go and move on with their lives. I've been amazed at their ability to forgive.

I also like what you say about killing the messenger to avoid facing their pain. That is exactly what happens. They may also kill the messenger to avoid taking responsibility. Either the way, the messenger takes the fall.

I wish you all the best and hope too that your family will one day heal.

Hi Kellen, I'd love some guidance finding some possible groups to interview to begin group therapy in the Seattle, WA area. Thanks!

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