Narcissism 101

8 Reasons Narcissists Need a Scapegoat


If you have ever felt like you were the black sheep in the family, you are not alone. It can be hard to feel like an outsider and unwanted by the family. This behavior can extend to a group of friends or a relationship as well. What you have been going through is the life of a narcissist’s scapegoat. What most people don’t know is that children are mostly used as scapegoats. So, what is a scapegoat for a narcissist exactly?

It is usually a targeted individual in a group who is used to blame, shame, and project their feelings onto others. Most of the time the scapegoat is unaware of the bullying that is going on as they see it to be normal behavior for that group.

This article will help you understand why narcissists need those scapegoats. If you feel like you are a scapegoat, but aren’t too sure, this can help you make that determination.

Number 1: Creating power within the family.

When a family has a malignant narcissist in the family, usually in a parenting role, they thrive on the idea of having complete control over everyone in the house. The ultimate goal is to belittle someone else to make themselves look bigger and better. It has been said that a malignant narcissist will pick the child as the scapegoat when they grow envious of them for possessing qualities that the narcissist does not have.

When these qualities outshine the narcissist, they will do anything in their power to take that shine away. They do not care if the child grows to be miserable in the home, as long as the narcissist is happy. The narcissist will pick the children in the home that are more compliant with the parents, or easier to persuade. They look for weaker-willed children who they know will take the abuse and believe it is because of their wrongdoing.

Number 2: They’re unable to control their own emotions.

A big reason someone is chosen as a scapegoat is that the narcissist is unaware of how to control their own emotions and behavior. Instead of seeking help to regulate their feelings, they project them onto someone else. This can be from a lack of education on the resources they have or low self-confidence to seek help. They usually choose one person to project their inner feelings onto because they never learned what it meant to have self-control or a support system to go to.

Many narcissists come from emotionally and verbally abusive backgrounds. That can mean they did not grow up learning how to regulate their emotions and anger while going through puberty and their young adult years.

Those years are the most important in learning how to handle your own emotions and understanding what they are and what they mean. Instead of seeking help, they continue the cycle and project the same feelings onto their children. This can cause the child to feel self-doubt and low confidence, and make them unlikely to trust anyone.

Number 3: Self-hate.

These children are picked specifically as a scapegoat when they remind the narcissist of themselves before they became who they are today. Most narcissists want people to believe they are confident and so sure of themselves when in reality, they self-loathe more than anyone else in the family. They take the feelings of hate and self-disgust and they project all of the areas where they lack onto the child.

The narcissist can’t let people know that they hate themselves so they project their feelings onto the child so they are not the only ones who feel that way. The child is usually a victim of a vicious cycle that will keep repeating if they do not see the situation for what it is: self-abuse. It can make narcissists feel better about themselves if someone else feels the same pain as them, but it doesn’t change how they feel about certain areas of themselves.

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Number 4: They want to avoid adult responsibility.

When a child is chosen as the scapegoat in the family, many times the adult burden is placed on them as well, such as being blamed and shamed if the parents can’t do something or can’t pay their bills. They want the child to feel as though it is their responsibility now to take care of the house since everything is going wrong. They project these adult responsibilities onto the child as an escape mechanism from dealing with their real-life problems. It can be used to help with coping with the stress of life.

These children are chosen to receive all of the built-up stress that the adults can’t seem to handle anymore. These children learn to handle their stress in dangerous ways. They believe that now instead of learning how to control and handle their stress, they have to pick someone to receive and handle the stress for them. They will also learn that it is okay to put on a fake identity to impress others. By that, we mean that the narcissist puts on a front to make others believe they are being themselves all of the time and they don’t have any worries. The child will then create a fake identity that they will use to seek approval from the narcissist.

The child may also find themselves taking on a parenting role for other children in the house to please the narcissist. When they are made to believe they are not good enough, they tend to take on bigger roles in the home to gain the approval of the narcissist.

Number 5: To avoid their self-destruction.

When a narcissist chooses their scapegoat, they choose the weakest link. Most of the time, narcissists realize that they are truly weak and try to avoid showing that to others. With that being said, many are also self-aware of the self-destructive behavior they cause but don’t want to show it. They avoid facing their self-destructive behavior by making their scapegoat believe that they are the self-destructive ones. They continually tell them that they are the reason for the narcissist’s failed marriage, career, hobby, etc. They avoid confronting their problems by projecting the cause onto the scapegoat.

This can often lead to the scapegoat having lower self-esteem, rebelling against the family or the abuser, or growing extreme trust issues with ones close to them. This, of course, causes a harder strain on the relationship between the narcissist and the scapegoat. We believe you can say that the narcissist is looked at as a self-destructive tornado and the scapegoat is the innocent house that happens to get caught in its wake.

Number 6: They need a caretaker.

When a parent or caretaker who is narcissistic goes through a divorce or breakup with a significant other, it can be detrimental to them. Not only because it hurts their pride that they lost someone who was “supposed to care about them”, but also because it hurts their ego. When a child is involved in the equation, that child often finds themself caught in the middle of the separation.

The narcissist will seek out the scapegoat to look for someone to blame and to care for them. They will usually blame the scapegoat for the ending of the relationship. They will tell the scapegoat things such as “maybe if you were better they wouldn’t have left me” or “you always get everyone to leave me”. This causes the scapegoat to feel guilty for their so-called actions and look for ways to make amends. They will start to take care of the narcissist emotionally and continually tell them how amazing they are. It in a way correlates with gaslighting. The scapegoat is made to feel responsible for a situation so they look to the narcissist for reassurance.

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A Book: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

Number 7: They can’t admit their flaws.

Admitting flaws can mean they have to accept their own behavioral problems. Narcissistic people do not want to admit they are anything but perfect. When they feel like they are anything less than perfect, it upsets them. When they feel like they are losing their place as perfect, they project those upsetting feelings onto others such as their scapegoat.

The narcissist will then start to point out the scapegoat’s flaws to create a distraction away from them. These distraction tactics create self-hate in the scapegoat. Are there times the scapegoat will break the cycle as an adult? Of course, some scapegoats will understand that their parents are creating a toxic setting and that it isn’t right. These children will grow up to create a completely different setting for their own home and usually cut the narcissist out of their lives and their children’s.

Narcissist acknowledges that they will have to accept their flaws if they are slipping through the cracks. This can be a hard pill to swallow for them and that leads to the narcissist lashing out at the scapegoat. That lashing out sometimes leads to verbal abuse and bullying.

Recommended: Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse.

Number 8: That is how they grew up.

As mentioned before, narcissists picking a scapegoat is usually done because they were scapegoated themselves as children. When narcissists were chosen as scapegoats because they appeared to be the weaker link, they learned that they had to strive for perfection to feel wanted and loved. This creates a toxic circle of life in that family.

The scapegoat as a child believes that true love from a family member tells the child what is wrong with them. They take in the behaviors of the parents and exhibit that behavior to their children. They project all of their insecurities onto their children. It is embedded into their brain to show that they are the superior one in the household and they must show someone else’s insecurities to make people forget about the narcissist. This can easily be done.

Many narcissists are very good at persuading others to believe the same things they do. If the narcissist has a significant other that is easily persuaded, they can influence the other partner to focus on the scapegoat’s flaws as well. Doubling up on the scapegoat can be harder on them when they get older because they believe that is how two parents should treat a child.

Read More: 10 Signs Someone Has a God Complex

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