What is scapegoating? How can it impact us?

From difficulties to deal with mental health challenges to the nervous system being dysregulated, here are a few ways by

Published on Jun 19, 2024 07:00 PM IST 6 Photos

Scapegoating is a normal procedure in dysfunctional homes where the child or the caregiver is bullied or cold criticised for family problems. This can further impact the way they look at themselves. "The bully tends to have many underlying challenges, including stress, anger, shame & pain which they project onto others. This brings the bully a tiny bit of relief but never resolves their own issues. The bully can be a parent, a sibling, extended family member. The bully may also turn other family members against the scapegoat, amplifying the pain & suffering. This might look like there being a favoured child, and pitting this child against the scapegoat," wrote therapist Lauren Baird.(Unsplash)

When a child grows up in a home where they are constantly made to feel that they are the bad one, the nervous system goes into the survival mode. (Unsplash)

The dysregulated nervous system gets stuck in the fight or flight or freeze or fawn mode – this further triggers the stress hormones and makes it difficult for children to focus on their studies or engage in relationships outside their family.  (Unsplash)


The children constantly believe that they are imperfect and flawed. This further makes them turn to coping strategies such as people pleasing behaviours. (Unsplash)

Harsh self-criticism, low self-esteem and toxic shame are some of the seeds of mental health challenges that get planted in a child from an early age due to scapegoating. (Unsplash)