In my last post, I mentioned the term "scapegoating" and encouraged us, as a society, to avoid scapegoating and blaming just one member of a group or family - in the Diana and Charles situation OR the Meghan and Harry situation - or in any group situation, actually - because it's a group dynamic.
I also said that I don't believe the royal family killed Diana - in fact, I think that notion is absurd - for the reasons I stated in the post below.
However, I didn't mean to minimize dysfunctional group/family scapegoating, because even if minor, it can feel devastating to the person being scapegoated - and in extremely sick dysfunctional groups and families, scapegoating can actually be dangerous.
I'm not 100% certain, of course, but I just don't get the impression that the Windsors are mentally ill, narcissists, and/or sociopaths - but I do think all that pretending for appearances and denial has led to an unhealthy level of dysfunction - which is what Diana emotionally reacted to.
However, some group and family systems truly are toxic, even dangerous - and I was reminded of this after seeing a suggested video on YouTube regarding a very different scapegoating horror story, which was made into a documentary on Netflix, called The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez, which I haven't actually watched and don't plan to, because it's horrifying, but I know the gist - which I'll talk about a bit more below.
But first, I need to state that scapegoating happens in a lot of dysfunctional groups and families, and there are a lot of dysfunctional groups and families lol - but it's a spectrum.
There are no perfect groups or families, of course, and unfortunately, dysfunctional groups and families are more common than functional/healthy groups and families - but there aren't always villains and victims.
In fact, any push to see other group members as villains and victims is, in and of itself, often a sign of a member of a dysfunctional group - but sometimes, there really are villains and victims.
And therein lies the problem - you never really know how deep the dysfunction, toxicity, or danger goes or can go - and if you are a member of a dysfunctional group or family, then you likely will never see how deep and toxic it is, because you're in denial and too busy helping blame the scapegoat - unless, of course, you are the scapegoat - but even then, you're likely still grappling with blaming you, yourself.
However, if there is a victim, I'd put my money on the person or group everyone's blaming for problems and trying to scapegoat as the "troublemaker," if I were you - who is often also the whistleblower ;)
But as I said, scapegoating lies on a spectrum of family dysfunction, ranging from minor to deadly.
As for "minor" version, think of the show "Friends" - the Gellar family.
Ross was the golden child, decided by his parents. He could do no wrong, excuses were made for his mistakes (often blamed on Monica), despite being married three times impulsively - while Monica was always wrong, always blamed for Ross's mistakes and causing stress in his life, despite Monica waiting until her mid-30s to marry, when the right person came along (Chandler).
Thus, who ended up with the teenage weight issue due to "eating her feelings" and obsessive-compulsive neat-freak tendencies?
Monica ... lol. Aw :/
Though they made the family dysfunction funny, it's not so funny in real life if you're the scapegoat, even when "minor" scapegoating, right?
And it's not always families - work groups, clubs, anything can be a dysfunctional group. and an example of less "toxic" group dysfunction is let's say a really terrible mistake is made at work, but no one will admit it. Or let's say even something intentional, like theft.
Who is usually the first person to get blamed?
The newest person lol.
Next blamed is the outsider or "weird guy" at work.
Next blamed is the person who has complained openly about the current dysfunctional work system - or even the person who stood up to bullying, either of themselves or someone else, rather than pile on.
Either way, this person will be wrongly perceived as "being negative" rather than trying to put an end to dysfunction, and labeled a troublemaker for doing so, despite the fact that no one will admit he or she is actually making some pretty good points that might actually work to make the group more functional, productive, and united.
All of this speculating, of course, is made without any evidence whatsoever, despite it more likely being a person who's been there for years, knows the work flow better than anyone else, and who's gotten too comfortable or lazy - or in the case of actual theft or sabotage, knows the perfect time to do it is when a new person has been hired ;)
Sometimes, members of the group even know it's their friend or family member that made the mistake and even joke about it, but still choose to protect/enable them and allow the blame to fall to a new person that they don't know, the person they don't like, or the scapegoat, to take the fall instead - because the MO with dysfunctional groups is to close ranks, protect the status quo, regardless of how dysfunctional it is.
Regardless, after that scapegoat is gone, there'll be another and another and another, until there are no scapegoats left to blame, and yet unless someone within the original dysfunctional group whistleblows, they're likely to continue to have problems and never look at internal inherent problems until doomsday.
Another "less dangerous" example of group dysfunction would be the person who initiates cyberbullying of someone for because they didn't agree with their politics or is different in some way, is somewhat openly vulnerable or sensitive, jealousy, or they rejected that person romantically or in friendship.
Then lots of people pile on and bully, sometimes someone they don't even know, finding justifications for their doing so, imagining they must deserve it for some reason, often using the sheer amount of people piling on the victim itself as justification, when mob rule rarely makes the mob right.
This is why vigilante justice is outlawed - because there's no proof presented, only suspicion - and frenzied, angry mobs never behave rationally.
Though these situations are devastating to the scapegoat, more often than not, they are not considered truly "dangerous" - but sometimes they are. And again, it's a spectrum - and you just never really know.
Because in more extremely dysfunctional groups and families, scapegoating can become dangerous, even deadly - ranging from leading to suicide of an innocent person falsely accused all the way up to global attempt at race eradication, like Nazis with Jews.
This more extreme/dangerous group dysfunction typically happens when groups or families are led by either a severely mentally-ill person with narcissistic tendencies, or at least currently is displaying these tendencies as part of the behaviors that accompany substance abuse/addiction.
Speaking of the Diana situation in my last post, I also mentioned a very different scapegoating situation in the royal family that was much, much worse - the more extreme, dangerous kind.
Not the Windsors, of course, but within the Mountbatten family - where I do believe there was entirely innocent victim scapegoated for family problems and a villain, and the family accepted the blame-the-scapegoat story for years, but it was thankfully corrected before her death, restoring her relationship with her son, Prince Phillip - and that was Princess Alice. (For more on that, read the post below.)
*However* - even in such extreme situations led by truly sick, narcissistic leaders, it is still a group dynamic, with the group itself being nearly as sick as the narcissistic leader - because without a group of enablers and dirty-work doers, the narcissist leader would accomplish nothing.
Example - Charles Manson would've accomplished nothing alone - he needed supporters, enablers, and dirty-work doers.
The same is true with Hitler and Nazis.
Neither Manson or Hitler did much killing and torturing themselves, if any - they just ordered and encouraged others to.
So what causes scapegoating?
There are different theories and different justifications given - but the common thread seems to be scapegoating is always initiated by a group leader with narcissistic tendencies, attempting to justify their abuse of power on an individual or a group with less power (especially a race), by blaming them for the group's problems.
Why is the scapegoat chosen - are they a trouble-maker, drama queen/king, an hysteric, or crazy?
Sometimes, but usually not - in fact, more often than not, they're completely innocent, and at most, a whistle-blower.
How and why is the scapegoat chosen?
Are they ...
A) The newest member of the group?
B) Perceived as being different and inferior to the rest of the group, the most powerless and vulnerable (often the most sensitive), and therefore the easiest to abuse and blame and get away with abusing and blaming?
C) At least one member of the group - often the one with the most power, but not always - is either jealous of all the attention on them or irrationally fears the scapegoat is somehow a threat to their power, their position in the group, or to the group status quo?
D) Feared by the group to either be a whistleblower, or might become a whistleblower, because they refused to enable the narcissist for something they witnessed the narcissist doing?
The answer can be A, B, C, or D - and often, all of the above.
It depends on each group member's reaction to the encouraged scapegoat.
Regardless, it is the most narcissistic member that initially decides who to blame/scapegoat for group problems.
In more extreme, truly sick dysfunctional families, the scapegoat is determined by the person with the most power, usually the parent (if not both parents) with narcissistic tendencies, and "splits" into black-and-white thinking, placing everybody around them in either "good" or "bad" buckets with no gray areas, including their own children.
As a result of "splitting," the parent(s) choose one "good" child who can do no wrong/is the golden child, one child who does everything wrong/the bad child, and any other children are simply - not relevant/not-important.
In fact, the non-relevant/non-important children have it the next worst to the scapegoat, because they receive no attention at all, good or bad - but this means they are also the most likely to help the parent or leader to bully and abuse the scapegoat, out of desperately trying to finally get attention and approval from the parent :(
Often this "splitting" or "good/bad" choice isn't actually based on good or bad behavior at all, but instead is based on whether the family member is perceived as being supportive/enabling the family leader or refuses to support them.
In other cases, it may result out of nothing more than chemical imbalance and psychosis - i.e. the news stories we've all heard of, where a parent abuses or kills a child out of actual psychosis, often reflected in religious beliefs, such as that there are demons or snakes inside the child they believe they're freeing them from, etc., with the other parent and rest of the family watching on or turning a blind eye to it.
Now, as for that YouTube recommendation that I mentioned at the top of this post, it's the real crime story of The Murder of Gabriel Fernandez.
Now THAT is what an extremely dysfunctional and enabling family system abusing a scapegoat member really looks like - a worst-case scenario - also proving it's not always a white male narcissist as dysfunctional group leader - although statistically, white male narcissists are the most common, only because white males hold the most economic power and leadership in the world; therefore, people often trust white male leaders more readily than others.
Case in point ...
Gabriel's mother, Pearl, was awarded custody versus Gabriel's father, admitting privately to friends she only wanted custody of Gabriel for the welfare benefits.
Despite Gabriel's father's family (and even some members of Pearl's family) reporting Pearl already neglected her other children, many family members chose to support Pearl anyway, because his father was now living in a gay relationship with his male partner, and they assumed Gabriel living with his father and partner was somehow more immoral and dangerous for him :/
Needless to say - they were wrong. Because though Pearl neglected and abused all of her children, she chose her 8-year-old son, Gabriel, to be the scapegoat to receive the most abuse and actual torture.
She encouraged her boyfriend, Gabriel's grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and even Gabriel's brothers and sisters to abuse and torture him, too, as "punishment."
They justified it by saying they believed Gabriel was "too sensitive and likely gay, like his father," was "F-ed up," and "an evil, bad kid."
The left side of the first picture below was taken by Gabriel's teacher for a school function. It shows his skin peeling, old cut scars on face, and dark circles under his eyes.
The second picture, on the right, is a suicide note - one of many he wrote before they killed him - which were dismissed by his mother and others of "attention-seeking."
His teachers, like others, initially believed his mother's claims that Gabriel was just "difficult" and that the wounds on him were self-inflicted, because he had written multiple suicide notes which had been previously dismissed as "trying to get attention."
However, his last teacher became increasingly suspicious and called social workers, when Gabriel asked his teacher, "Is it normal to bleed after you get hurt?" - indicating Gabriel was being blamed and shamed even for bleeding after they abused him.
The teacher called social services several times. Social services visited several times and noted concerns, but also questioned self-injury, because of his admission of it and his suicidality; regardless, Gabriel was not removed.
Then a security guard also called social services, risking his own job within the public system. In the end, over 70 reports were called in on Gabriel's behalf, both identified and anonymous, but Gabriel was not removed from the home and not even counseling was given to Gabriel for his "emotional problems."
Now, remember what I said in my last post about the psychological community only recently beginning to view self-injury and suicidal threats as signs of current or recent trauma experienced, and that the victim is either still currently legitimately trapped in very real trauma, or still feels trapped in the very real trauma, after scores of studies on trauma have been released over the past few years on how trauma affects even previously "normal" human brains, altering the pathways at least temporarily?
Well, this is where persistent outdated attitudes towards self-injury and suicidal gestures always being manipulative and signs of a personality disorder/chronic mental illness may have played a part in delaying Gabriel's removal from the abusive home and receiving physical and mental healthcare.
Even if Gabriel was or ended up being chronically mentally ill/having a personality disorder - those are created, they're not born with them - and he needed help and removal from that environment for his best chance at life :(
Upon medical examination, the medical examiner determined blunt-force trauma to the head, and also found signs of malnutrition, cigarette-burn scars, evidence of prior beatings and scars he could not have inflicted on himself - and later tales of his siblings either witnessing or being forced to help them force-feed Gabriel cat and dog feces.
Now read the reasons above for scapegoating again - in this case, letters A, B, and D apply - Gabriel was the newest member of the family (Pearl was recently given custody), he was very sensitive (labeled gay), and he tried to whistleblow/send signals to others something was wrong, without actually telling anyone about the abuse and without naming who was responsible.
And in case you're the sort who wants to blame race or other irrelevant socioeconomic factors, think again - and consider the Indianapolis of case of Sylvia Likens - which was even more horrific, with even more people in the community involved in her abuse and torture, directly linked, complicit, or negligent to her abuse.
Gertrude Banizewski, legal guardian of both Sylvia and her sister, Jenny, while her father worked out of state, was a person considered in the community to be a "good, God-fearing Christian" - and thus was able to convince her own children, the neighbors and their children, a Baptist minister, and even Sylva's own blood sister, Jenny, that Sylvia was "an evil prostitute," encouraging or forcing all of whom to either physically engage in the torture of Sylvia over several months or turned a blind eye to it, justifying it as Sylvia "deserving it."
Gertrude never abused her own children, and even though Sylvia and Jenny were both somewhat neglected and abused, Sylvia took the brunt of the abuse and actually experienced torture - Sylvia became the scapegoat.
The Banizewskis not only allowed, but actually encouraged, the neighbor's children to enter the home for the sole purpose of beating and torturing Sylvia, who was chained downstairs.
This picture was taken of Gertrude years after she was released from prison for "good behavior," and actually hired as a teacher's aide in Iowa.
I'll spare you the absolutely horrific details of what Gertrude, her children, and an entire community either physically did to Sylvia themselves, or stood by and justified, doing nothing to stop - but you can read more about them in the above link.
However, I forewarn you, I've seen and heard a lot of horrific, brutal crimes in my day, to include Gabriel's - but it was not only how they abused her, but how long it went on and the amount of people who hopped on to help abuse and torture her, or turned a blind eye to it, believing she deserved it - and it will make you literally sick to your stomach, as it did me.
Gertrude justified the torture, encouraging an entire community to help torture her, by telling them she was a lying, sinning, prostitute who made up lies about her and her children (referring to the occasion where Sylvia did try to tell others).
And in fact, any time Sylvia tried to defend herself and fight back, it only enhanced that "bad seed" perception and made their lies seem true, so she just stopped trying.
In fact, Gertrude, her sons, and two neighbor boys took turns carving the inscription, "I'm a prostitute and proud of it" into her abdomen and under her breasts.
However, the saddest part of this story is that after Sylvia died, upon medical examination, besides the obvious findings of starvation, dehydration, broken teeth, brain swelling, and over 150 wounds and bruises on her body (including in sexual areas that she couldn't have inflicted herself), Sylvia's hymen was found completely intact - proving her still a virgin :(
This also proved was Gertrude herself was the liar trying to get attention, projecting her behavior onto Sylvia in several ways, as narcissists do - including she was married several times, had children out of wedlock, and several brief boyfriends that came and went, and she took money from men for questionable things - which would actually make Gertrude herself the closest to being a prostitute out of anyone in the entire group.
Okay, so they didn't rape her or give the final death blow, hooray for them, they weren't guilty of rape?!?
Also, Gertrude initially claimed Sylvia wasn't dead, she was "faking death to get attention" - the same thing she claimed when Sylvia initially tried to tell others about what was going on - and the same thing she claimed when this carving was found on Sylvia's dead body, that she "did it to herself," and when they all finally did admit doing it, still minimized it as "scratches."
Gertrude never took responsibility for the abuse, never showed remorse, continued to maintain that Sylvia was a bad seed with loose morals that deserved punishment, but said she "couldn't remember" any the events during her life then; and in fact, was released from prison for "good behavior," being a "den mother" to other women in prison, who couldn't imagine how such a fine person could've done what she did - and as I said, actually became a teacher's aide later in life.
In fact, many in the community said she was "too much of a good Christian" to do this - but Sylvia's surviving sister, the neighbors, some of her own children, as well as the neighborhood children admitted being part of the abuse and being convinced specifically by Gertrude, at the time, that she deserved it - and in fact, most still believed Gertrude that Sylvia deserved all of it and continued to justify themselves.
As for others accused, a couple of them felt remorse, including her blood sister, Jenny, who felt she had no choice but to help abuse her to save herself - but most of them continued to believe she deserved it and brought it on herself.
So why did did Gertrude choose Sylvia to inflict the most abuse and actual torture on, instead of Jenny?
Some said Gertrude had a boyfriend that took a sexual interest in the pretty young Sylvia, and she blamed Sylvia for it and was jealous. Other people just said Sylvia was pretty and she was jealous of her - but that was unsubstantiated, though Gertrude did seem to have a strange preoccupation with Sylvia's physical attractiveness and sexual activities (or lack thereof).
However, Sylvia was pretty - and sensitive - and new - and the only one of the two sisters to fight back, at least at first.
So again, read the above reasons for scapegoating - in this case, A, B, C, AND D will all apply - Sylvia was new, Sylvia was different in that she was sensitive and fought back, Sylvia tried to whistleblow, and lastly, Gertrude was jealous of her appearance and "exuberant" personality.
In these two cases, considering how horrific they were, and how many people were involved, I hate to say it, but I think in their cases, it was likely better for them to pass on - how do you ever trust another human being ever again, or have a normal life after that?
And it just goes to show you how quickly and easily even your community or neighbors door could become like Nazis, following a convincing narcissist and doing their dirty work - and how even two members within the same family's experience with a narcissist can be completely different, one receiving abuse and another not, out of the narcissist's own mental issues.
Regardless, that is why I say we should all avoid scapegoating - because often, the scapegoat being blamed actually has the least amount of power in the room, and whatever their flaws, they do deserve bullying, neglect, abuse, or whatever else the narcissist-led group decides is appropriate "punishment."
And I'm going to go a bit further, here - it's pretty clear to the sane set that Trump is a textbook narcissist - but even he cannot be solely blamed for the mess that's been created - because again, Trump would be nothing without a dysfunctional group of supporters, whom he encourages to scapegoat and blame others to deflect off himself, and above all, do the dirty work - which is why I still say we can never just blame one person.
This is why scapegoating is a group dynamic - and though the narcissist may lead the dysfunctional group and choose the scapegoat, they would be nothing without the choices made by the other members of the dysfunctional group - and why I encouraged us all to not scapegoat just one person for an entire group dynamic.
PS - Just wanted to add that another interesting social psychologic dynamic is the scapegoated member often goes on to be a repeat scapegoat in other situations.
This is NOT "proof" they are the "common denominator" and "the problem" or "a troublemaker" - like they believe and they've been told - all it proves is that they are often drawn to the same dysfunctional type of people and groups as their family of origin - they're repeating a pattern out of familiarity (and sometimes dysfunctional people and groups will choose/prey upon them, too).
But they are still inherently who they are - new, different, sensitive, will whistleblow rather than enable, etc. - and thus, the pattern repeats itself with new dysfunctional groups they choose/or are chosen for, over and over again, until they finally learn how to recognize the warning signs and "unchoose" it and just extricate yourself as quickly as possible.
Case in point - Meghan Markle.
She came from an extremely dysfunctional family that she was the scapegoat in, and then married right back into a family who, although are not as severely dysfunctional as her own, still has history of scapegoating, particularly of women for family problems, and now became the scapegoat again.
One more time - can you identify which of the above items in that list of reasons people scapegoat-hate explain the scapegoating of Meghan Markle?
Let me help you - poor Meghan hits "all of the above" on that list of reasons people group-scapegoat hate - every single one - making her a quadruple threat to unwell, dysfunctional-group minds.
1) She's the newest member and has the least power - making her the latest scapegoat in a long line of them.
2) She's different from all of the other group members, first off, for being American and half-black, and therefore considered inferior from the start (which racists are having a field-day of hate and blame with, but trying to act like they hate her for other reasons lol), and she's also more sensitive/vulnerable, getting hurt more easily by the negative attention (obsession) with her.
3) She's outspoken and whistleblower, furthering her difference - politically and otherwise, when she feels passionately about something, and she can fight back when pushed - not airing dirty laundry like Diana, but when some member of the family - either her own or Harry's, has "jumped the shark" as far as trying to get attention for themselves or publicly scapegoating her by selling a story to the tabloid, etc., and has created such a public furor that she feels she has to explain/address it to calm it down or leave to protect herself, her family and her sanity from it.
4) Jealousy - she's thin, pretty, smart, and smiley AND she married the last eligible bachelor direct-heir prince, and receives the most attention now (though she'd prefer not to) - many women hate her on sight!
However, Meghan is lucky in one way, though - unlike Diana, she did not marry the son people consider "the golden child" - instead, she married the scapegoat :)
*By that, again, I don't mean or believe the Windsor parents are narcissists; I have no idea, but doubt it.*
However, it doesn't matter if they are or aren't, or what kind of parents they were - because in the case of the royal family, England itself chose who would be the golden child, the scapegoat, and the "unimportant" children in the royal family, centuries ago, based this solely on their birth order - it's been predetermined and "baked in" for a few hundred years :)
According to England itself, created centuries ago, the golden child always has been, and always will be, the firstborn/first in line to the throne, the scapegoat will always last born/last in line, and any other children will always be the "unimportant/ignored" children in between :)
(Unless of course you abdicate, like Edward did, and then you lose Golden Child status - which is rare for dysfunctional families to admit because they never receive blame, but this time, they couldn't deny/ignore anymore ;)
In non-royal dysfunctional families, the golden child is chosen by one or both parents, and it isn't always the firstborn - sometimes it's the baby - rarely the middle child, though. Interestingly, the scapegoat can be in any birth order, first, middle, or last, but is most often the middle child.
Regardless, never marry the golden child, like the father of my child and married in my first marriage, and like Diana did - trust me lol.
Not because the golden child is automatically a narcissist (but can be and it's more likely) - but because you'll never be considered good enough/will be blamed by the rest of the group/family for all problems, because the golden child is never at fault.
Also, even though it's more likely, don't automatically assume the chosen golden child will automatically be the next-generation narcissist ...
Again, think of Ross on Friends lol.
Though Ross reveled in being the golden boy with his parents, and was often clueless to how much hurt it caused Monica and failed to defend her to his parents, Ross was definitely NOT a narcissist lol.
He knew all the parental praise wasn't for the real him but for their own delusions about him, and thus was plagued with insecurity he was very self-aware of, and was still perhaps the most sensitive and empathetic member of Friends, and was still very close to Monica and would do anything for her - except defend her to his parents, fearing losing Golden Boy status, plus if he ever tried, they ignored him and it only solidified his saint status lol.
Sometimes the next-generation narcissist can actually be one of the "non-important" children, neither golden child or scapegoat - and that is because they go without notice, neither approval nor consequence - and they are the most willing to please the narcissist parent (which we don't see, in the Gellar family, because they only have two children lol).
Whether the non-important child did cartwheels or robbed banks for attention, no one is watching to either give approval or rebuke, because all of the focus is on the golden child and the scapegoat child.
The "unimportant" or ignored children are actually the ones most willing to do anything to please the parent, rather than the golden child, who knows they'll receive it regardless, and they are often jealous of the attention that the golden child and the scapegoat both receive - even if that attention is abuse, it is still attention versus nothing. Thus why the "non-important" children are the first to jump in and help the parent abuse the scapegoat sibling to receive five seconds of approval from the parent. "
Meghan fortunately at least married another family scapegoat - and she and Harry actually did the healthiest thing for family scapegoats to choose - they walked away and limited contact - out of the limelight and line of fire :).
You can see this same dynamic, to a greater extreme, in actual abused children, explaining why they are often drawn repeatedly to abusive relationships and families as adults - familiarity (and some part of them still believing they deserve it), trying to solve an ancient puzzle with new but similar people.
But that toxic-trap puzzle will never be solved, whether it's a small beehive or raging hornet's nest - it's still toxic to someone already from a hornet's nest, either way.
So best to limit contact or just get out/walk away entirely, if severe, and learn how to recognize healthier, more functional groups of people to be around/work around.
The thing is, though always wired to gravitate toward the familiar, even if unhealthy, besides therapy, there's another gleam of hope - sometimes, you just get lucky - and instead of an marrying another abuser, you marry another scapegoat instead - like Harry and Meghan. Like Johnny and June. Like myself and my husband.
It not always a party, and it takes a lot of work and a lot of baggage-shedding - but it's so worth it, in the end :)