Learning to recognize the core issues of what has become called “mental illness” is, to be honest, the core of reclaiming our sense of “self” and learning to see ourselves as creators of our lives v.s. victims of life. Today a short post on learning to recognize that the source of much of the pain we witness in the world begins at home and – that very often the “help” we look for results in perpetuating it to the next generation…

From a recent Facebook post…

Every “black sheep” in a family is in reality the family scapegoat; the one who carries the secrets and shame of the family. The one who acts out their pain at being minimized,abused and dismissed. The focus when the family seeks “help” then is the behavior of the “blacksheep” and most often instead of teaching this person how to protect themselves from this family legacy of generational dysfunction and abuse will teach them that what their family says about them is right – that they are the problem, their “behavior” is the problem – not that the shaming, blaming, minimizing, dismissing and brainwashing in the family is the problem.

These individuals are then shamed and blamed for their acting out their pain. The abuse/dysfunction typically does not stop and instead the pattern continues into adulthood as siblings take the place of dysfunctional parents that may have died.

Rather than helping the family to see their generational patterns of dysfunction the focus becomes the family member who seems to “have the most problems”. This acts as a distraction from the real source of the issue and perpetuates it to the next generation UNLESS somehow the one who is the “identified problem” learns to save themselves often by distancing or rejecting the family altogether which simply becomes one more reason for the family to point fingers, shame and blame that individual for breaking up the family instead of acknowledging their part in the pattern.

From Wikipedia

Scapegoating (from the verb “to scapegoat“) is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame as a scapegoat.[1] Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals (e.g. “he did it, not me!”), individuals against groups (e.g., “I couldn’t see anything because of all the tall people”), groups against individuals (e.g., “Jane was the reason our team didn’t win”), and groups against groups.

scapegoat may be an adult, sibling, child, employee, peer, ethnic or religious group, or country. A whipping boyidentified patient or “fall guy” are forms of scapegoat.

So is there a solution for us?


As we learn to recognize and change this for ourselves – whether we are the identified problem or perpetrator – we will be the change that can change the world.

For more on doing the work of healing our lives please visit the archives here, here and here.

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