Families of Narcissists-Scapegoat

Inglis Fall

Ingrid shared her story about a family vacation. We were sitting in a library of a public school; a quiet, private place, especially after hours. Our small group had been meeting weekly to discuss narcissism and the impact that this pathology has had and continues to have on our lives.

Apparently, this vacation had been in the planning stages for over a year. The family was going to travel across North America, visit relatives, go to sites of interest like geological formations, national parks and caves. There were discussions about celebrity residences, particular museums and other possible stops on their way. They were travelling by car and the route was discussed at considerable length.

Unfortunately, Ingrid found out a day or two before the family left, that she would not be going. Officially, she was needed to stay home and take care of an elderly grandparent. Since no one in her family visited this individual on a regular basis, it was not a believable lie.

“You won’t like it. You don’t enjoy anything,” Ingrid’s mother said in her defence. The truth was, Ingrid was the scapegoat in this family and with the dynamic of a narcissist at play, everyone knew not to question the decision. More than that, they had all been taught that it was OK to blame Ingrid for anything that went wrong and to attack her any time she spoke.

I would like to say here that this is an extreme example and that it is rare–but I’d be lying. It is typical of a household that has a narcissist for there to be a scapegoat and a golden child.

Ingrid was the scapegoat. In this particular family, she saw no relief from this treatment and it was still continuing. Ingrid was in her fifties when we were having this conversation.

In some homes of narcissists, the scapegoat switches around. One day you are loved and admired and the next you cannot do anything right. This is a different type of emotional abuse because you never know where you stand.

The golden child, on the other hand, can do no wrong. It simply doesn’t matter how they act, what they decide to do, the choices they make or what they say, they are still cherished. This makes it difficult, in Ingrid’s situation, for her sister to understand why Ingrid was so disagreeable all of the time. Why wouldn’t Ingrid just agree that someone needed to care for grandma and leave it at that? Ingrid was such a downer. Her sister told her as much.

Since narcissists need constant nourishment in the form of drama and emotional outbursts, they tend to choose an individual to pick on. In this case, it was Ingrid. If you feel you are always being blamed and treated unfairly, you may be living with a narcissist.