5 thoughts on “Black Sheep, Scapegoats and Family Systems Therapy (Part 1)

  • December 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    I could lose my home, the one thing I have felt like I did right in my life. So for Christmas I tried to keep the spirit, be happy, believe in miracles, but than a part of me figured I probably have just been watching to many Christmas movies. The big Christmas eve at my moms, all us siblings, except for my brother who died in 2007 from leukemia. My family has always been dysfunctional, and fake. We all get together and talk even though each person is mad or hurt by some one else, but you don’t talk about it, your supposed to pretend . I just wanted my family to be a family for once, and yet again I’m reminded why I don’t like holidays, because of how I always feel after I leave. Either pissed, sad, depressed, never love, care, hugs and just plain love. I guess I have to accept it.

    • December 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      It’s an important point you raise, Sue – how it can be an especially challenging time of year for family dynamics right now.
      With Christmas and other festive times (and all the pressures that can come with them), there’s a lot of extra stuff in the air…

      I like your idea of acceptance – amid all the other emotions and pain and love. (I’ll be aiming for that, too, I think)

      And I hope all goes well with your home

  • January 25, 2012 at 9:42 am

    growing up i was the problem in the family to a point of severe physical abuse. left home at 18 and did lots reading. in twenties told parents i leave bad that happened and take good and listed good attributes of parents. proceeded to do good things-helping siblings at tough times, etc. first person in family to get college degree. in thirties there was a family blow up. was discussed behind my back and i was banned from family for next thirty years. i saw siblings gossip affect relations with cousins. i saw old patterns from childhood become prominent again. my family has supported each other to a point where raising reasoned questions or reasonable points makes no difference. with extended family it is my view versus six other people. my parents recently passed away and i was left out of any inheritance. i see my siblings justifying this by increasing their rhetoric of my short comings. my parents never stepped up to their bad behavior- child abuse and my siblings understand what was done to me in childhood was wrong but still put focus on me. i don’t know how to protect myself from their inflammatory gossip with people outside the immediate family.

    • January 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Lyn, you’ve been through so much, over such a long time… it shows such a lot of strength and courage on your part to have found a way out of the abuse that was happening for you. And how inspiring that you went on to change family history and be the first to earn a college degree.

      Yet it sounds like there are new layers of pain to contend with just now, with your parents dying and the resulting challenges you and your siblings have had, and your concerns about how this might impact how others might see you (through hearing any “gossip”).

      I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all of this.

      Just know that you don’t have to go through it alone… it can be an enormous relief to share some of the burden with a counsellor or therapist, if that’s something you want to look into. And I’m glad you felt able to share some small part of your story here, too … just so you don’t have to carry the pain alone…

      May things start to ease for you soon…

  • October 10, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Thank you for these posts, I found them very helpful. Especially the questions at the
    End of part 2 which helps to give a bit of distance to what’s happening and clarify
    The pattern. I’ve only just realised the dynamics in my family and that I’m the identified
    Patient/scapegoat. I’ve always known my family is dysfunctional but when you are in it its
    Hard to see and figure out. Especially if family members are invested in not telling truth
    – set in the roles that have been passed down for generations.

    I’ve been so angry and hurt for so long and now only beginning to understand why and feeling
    Less overwhelmed with these emotions. What was difficult for me in understanding the family
    Dynamics is that my mother scapegoated me in a seemingly kind way. It began when I was 4/5
    When my parents split up because of her affairs. I only discovered this recently. She has
    Created a fantasy about her own life, mine and others. I became ‘difficult’ after being fought
    Over in the custody battle (she got me back 2 years later). I have just realised I have lots of
    Abandonment fears to work on – felt rejected by both my families (step parents etc), lots of
    Shuttling to and fro. But the worst is that my mother for years has made me out to be helpless
    Because after several therapist evaluations I was defined with a learning problem which mother
    Brought up constantly from then on. I’m in therapy doing good work – setting boundaries with her.
    She never takes responsibility for her emotions and now is describing me as seriously depressed
    – she has had depression most of her adult life. It feels like I have to be defective and to
    Blame when I don’t conform. I have also got my degree (while battling all the old messages – am
    Still an underachiever in some ways). What hurts is I feel crazy around my mother – always
    Questioning reality, never ‘seen’ for who I am. So I go between understanding and anger, hurt etc.
    The worst is to be neglected when everyone else thinks it is all about you.
    I try not to blame because I see how her family dynamics affected her. But sometimes I feel stuck in anger
    and fear – as if by being angry I can keep her at bay. I think the anger is also about how I just feel
    There isn’t really a possibility of resolution with her as she becomes the victim when she
    Feels threatened by honest emotions.

    It helps to just write this out tho.


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