Scapegoating from http://medical.webends.com/kw/Scapegoating
Process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilized in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc., upon another individual or group; the amount of blame being unwarranted.
Links on Scapegoating at: http://www.birchmore.org/html/scapegoat_links.html
One-upmanship The art of maintaining a psychological advantage
In preparing these pages, there was a trend in our thinking towards some form of social or general explanation for many of the ways people perceive themselves and others - and hence act accordingly. Could it be that circumstances often contribute towards people behaving in ways that we, or even they, find abhorrent ? If we don't check ourselves or if external checks and balances are not effective, could more of us extend ordinary behaviour to extremes?
It would be good to know more about how various societies manage their problems and bad feelings, devise their laws, rituals and practices. Groups or cultures settle on a form of consensus for handling situations, and it does seem that scapegoating often plays a role in how difficulties, tensions or feelings are handled - to the point of taking them out on someone else!
Humans display a variety of behaviours in differing circumstances, but some people behave as though they have more 'rights' than others. They may be physically stronger, better at academic work, at gaining people's confidence, or are wealthier. It is not a universal constant but worthy of scrutiny as a sometime hypothesis. There can be strength in numbers and people may align themselves with a group or ideology so as not to be alone and vulnerable.
When people are weaker or vulnerable they are naturally placed for being a victim or 'the other' to some victor. This could be one reason why children get chosen for a scapegoating role in an emotional or physical sense. If someone is in a strong position for bargaining or standing up for themselves, they may pre-empt scapegoating. But children are not naturally placed for that and it is hard for them. They may be taken advantage of rather than protected, and if they speak about abuses they may also suffer not being believed. People may genuinely not believe them, or it is 'inconvenient' and they duck out, or they feel they can't do anything. We are not trying to cause conflict or difficulty for anyone but suggesting concepts bridging the gap between abuses' which clearly should not happen, and what may be done to understand and bring about changes.
We cannot help but wonder whether this is an aspect of child abuse, and we don't wish to offend anyone who has experienced this and feels differently because of what happened to them. It could be worth considering with regard to abuse by multi-perpetrators, to organised and sadistic abuse or ritualistic abuse. (There are some general comments on Cults and Ritual Abuse or SRA on this Link.) One would need to look at reasons both above and below the surface and at a wide cultural field. But do the stronger of our species take things out on the weaker, simply because they can - and nothing stops it?
At the risk of over-generalisation, is it that no-one wants to be powerless or at the bottom of some heap? Why people try to ensure it cannot happen to them if they sacrifice others to a lower role? Is it innate in human behaviour, arising from a suspicion that there must be a victor who should be us rather than 'the other' and we need to reinforce that? Is it a throwback to some feudal or tribal system affecting us more than we'd like to think?
Disbelief or denial do not mean people don't actually want to know about things, but they may find it hard to think of as human behaviour - for it is not humane. When children or others speak about what happened they meet a wall of the bricks and mortar of disbelief or denial, and a sense of inertia or powerlessness to change things. We can chisel away at it individually or in groups.
Territorial aspects of behaviour: wanting to acquire possessions, to control our lives or environment including other people whether in the family, neighbourhood or workplace. People often talk as though it is they who have the say or the power and others cannot affect them. It becomes very hard for those who are powerless or at mercy of others to stand up for themselves and be believed, which is the basic principle behind advocacy or having a 'friend at court' for moral support.
Status quo seems relevant to some extent. In workplaces or walking round shops, see how much of the day is spent reinforcing the prestige of some people, whether as a formal status or more psychological. The Samaritans and Joseph Rowntree Foundation have published on the subject of increasing bullying in the workplace. Have you seen people reinforcing their status quo via phone calls on the bus or train? Tim Field's Bully Online site is now at www.bullyonline.org
Projection or some specific or vague mechanism of manic defence could be part of the picture depending on the preferred frame of reference. See also BOOKS below.
Scapegoating, territoriality, or putting others down also seem inherent in many Human Rights issues and abuses. Perhaps a reason for the need for relevant legislation is an attempt to lessen injustices for more people in their lives as a general principle.
People often help themselves and others without recourse to 'experts'. People living through war or other traumatic times may not have access to help, and it is a relatively recent development that people look more to others to guide them. We are not attempting to devalue good help, rather to say that people may manage better than they think without it, and help of the not-so-good kind is just what the term implies! But it may be that the kind of help is not suitable for the person or at that time, or that the counsellor or therapist just does not suit an individual which is no-one's fault.
On these Pages you will also see a reference to Cults which is relevant in the sense of how people can get caught up in ways of belief or behaviour. This is not always a bad thing but can be destructive and hard to overcome, and this affects people differently. Something that gets shrugged off by some people is devastating for others and takes a long time for recovery, so it helps if people around them understand and support.
You may feel you want to talk things through with someone to help gain insight or come to terms with something, but try to weigh that up against getting talked into something. Casualties from the process of therapy and counselling ideally should be zero, which is not to say that it is an easy process to undergo.
A general trend towards therapy or counselling can lead to an increasing number of individuals believing they are somehow inadequate or in need of a specific approach. But no-one has all the 'answers' and no-one has them for you! Your circumstances may be such that you somehow feel inadequate as a person, but that is all a part of being human.
Some people may be using a mal-adaptive or extreme form of ordinary behaviour as an insurance against their own vulnerability. Therapists and counsellors are not immune from some of the defence mechanisms that anyone may make use of at times, but they need to be aware of how those may affect them.