Who is a Scapegoater?

Have you ever been scapegoated? Blamed unfairly for a mistake or failure you were not even responsible for? This blog is all about scapegoater. Let us have a look at what scapegoating is, how it originated, and how scapegoats make others their scapegoats. 

What Is Scapegoating?

Scapegoating is the act of blaming a person, group, or event for anything negative. It does not happen just once, rather this treatment becomes a pattern. Someone who always accepts responsibility for something—even when they didn’t—is a scapegoat. One child in a family, one student in a classroom, and an adult in a household. Or even a racial or religious group could be the subject of this. It often refers to someone who is held responsible for every adversity.

Origin Of Scapegoating

Historians believe that the term “scapegoat” was first used in the 16th century by Protestant scholar William Tyndale. In his translation of the Hebrew Bible to describe the ritual animals. Jews placed their sins in preparation for Yom Kippur.

The Book of Leviticus, which is part of the Hebrew Bible, describes the sacrifice of goats during the holiday by throwing goats off rocky headlands — the Azazel — that have been symbolically burdened with the sins of the community. Celebrants hoped that the slaughter would bring repentance to their communities.

Durkheim’s Theory Of Scapegoating

Emile Durkheim was the first to discuss scapegoating in a sociological setting. Additionally, Marcel Mauss, Henri Hubert, Robert Hertz, and Paul Fauconnet expanded upon his ideas.

According to Durkheim, when a piacular event—any misfortune that causes unease and fear—occurs. It threatens both the individual and society with disintegration and turns to a particular set of rituals called piacular rites to reclaim the stability and sense of integration that they had previously lost. These rituals involve the scapegoating, sacrifice, and blame processes.

According to Durkheim, death is the most prevalent notable occurrence in social existence. Every death requires the scapegoating of someone or something.

For instance, a heart attack brought on by years of smoking, a poor diet, or the inattentiveness of a drunk driver.

Fauconnet (1920) expanded on Durkheim’s observation by stating that historically. Both individuals and communities as well as inanimate objects and animals have been held accountable, condemned, and punished in an effort to atone for death.

As scapegoats for the plague and other tragedies, for example, animals and insects have been slain and driven out of European nations.

He added that all judicial systems throughout history and the entire world are founded on the notion. This is something or someone must suffer in order to bring about justice in response to an alleged misfortune.

This occurs because someone or something must bear responsibility for it. Not because these things or these people or organizations are objectively at fault.

Examples Of Scapegoating

Scapegoating can occur one-on-one, one-on-group, group-on-one, and even group-on-group.

An example of scapegoating is when a person holds their spouse accountable for a break-in because they left the door unlocked or an expensive item on display.

Another instance is the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in the 1940s. Following the attack, the US launched an anti-Japanese propaganda drive and incarcerated thousands of Japanese Americans. Since many people blamed all Japanese people for the attack, anti-Japanese prejudice persisted for years.

Some historians also agree that scapegoating played a significant role in the Holocaust. Following the devastation of World War I, Adolf Hitler gained power by pledging. This is to rebuild Germany and blame Jews for various social issues.

How Does Scapegoating Happen In The Family?

Often abusive parents scapegoat their children based on arbitrary factors. Like gender, birth order, looks/appearance, intellect, skin tone, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Some other factors that influence scapegoating include:

The rebel.

Abusive parents tend to single out and marginalize the kid who refuses to follow the program—whatever that program may be. To exert power and control.

The sensitive child.

A parent bullies the child and justifies scapegoating as necessary to “toughen the kid up” or “stop being too sensitive.” This is much more satisfying if the kid they pick on response and reacts appropriately. The other children do everything they can to suppress all of their emotional reactions. This gives them to cover but causes them harm.

The odd one.

This child is sufficiently different from both the mother and her other children that it overwhelms her parenting skills, and she reacts by shifting the blame onto the child. This child usually bears the burden of responsibility in the family narrative for the household being difficult to run or any other problem the mother may be experiencing.

What Is The Impact Of Scapegoating On The Child?


Being denied a family’s love, being branded the “bad one” in the house, and having one’s good qualities disregarded can prepare a child for a lifetime of emotional and psychological anguish, where they struggle to believe they are decent, deserving, competent, or likable.

Participating in toxic relationships.

Such people may end themselves in toxic friendships, relationships, and job settings as a result of being treated like a scapegoat as a child.

Normalizing dysfunctional behavior.

For family scapegoats, dysfunction and abuse can feel “normal,” making it difficult for them to recognize dangerous people and places before harm is done.

Problems setting boundaries.

Because gaslighting is common in dysfunctional families, it is difficult for abused people to set boundaries and recognize when other people’s behavior crosses the line. They are more likely to believe that they are exaggerating, being overly sensitive, or that they cannot trust their own judgment.


Scapegoats are prone to internalizing the negative messages they’ve received about themselves since birth or early childhood. This could lead to the child engaging in self-sabotage or self-harm behaviors such as poor academic performance, neglecting self-care, engaging in risky activities or behaviors, and acting out in ways that indicate they deserve the title of scapegoat.

The best course of action is to set firm boundaries and even end all contact with parents and other family members who continue to be abusive in adulthood.

The Ending Note 

Scapegoating is the act of blaming someone for a misfortune they did not commit. It may occur to a child in the family, to a student in a classroom, and even to a marginalized community. The consequences of scapegoating are devastating with people treated like a scapegoat suffering from depression, social isolation, and economic problems among others. 

Setting healthy boundaries and cutting off contact with abusive family members in case of scapegoating in the family are examples of coping mechanisms.

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