Mobbing and Treated Like a Scapegoat? Series on Family Bullying Part 2

So now that your goat horns are beginning to feel like paper, what does that make you think? Perhaps they are removable? Let’s see what happens next.


The Function Within the Dysfunction

Emotional maturity doesn’t look at the world how the dysfunctional family system operates. In a healthy environment the members of the family leave room for members to clarify ideas, revise thoughts, change one’s mind, share common goals and all members help one another to achieve their best. Family members that emit mental wellbeing understand that everyone in the family system has something to learn; that we all make mistakes, that we can own our part, and we all take responsibility. Forgiveness is not only sought, but is also offered generously. In contrast the unhealthy family system is wrought with punishments which take on many forms.  For example, ostracizing, belittling, gossiping, using abusive and biting sarcasm, smearing the reputation of the target, and excluding the target for perceived infractions are high on the list. The role of exclusion has to be underscored due to the level of pain it causes the target, as well as the social currency obtained by the narcissist and the narcissist in the making.


Emotional Immaturity Works

Let’s start with the root cause of the initial problem that is massively overlooked within these families. The bottom line is that the narcissist is emotionally immature and does not know how to process uncomfortable emotions without exhibiting immature tactics that have worked for them in the past. These tactics include yelling, tantruming, not allowing others to speak, cutting people off in conversation and essentially building a one sided case in order to get what they want. Narcissists work diligently at getting what they want, or at getting out of what they don’t want (responsibility) and they will stop at nothing no matter the cost.

I have seen narcissists go out of their way, lose sleep, spend money, and obsess over their target just to stick it to them. In other words Narcissists are so vindictively motivated that as the old adage says, “they cut off their nose to spite their face.”

I know of a narcissist who has squandered her own and her siblings’ inheritance on meaningless junk just to make sure her siblings did not get their share.  Beware of narcissistic siblings who have manipulated their way into the role of executor.

They have no scruples so lying and smearing their target’s reputation to get ahead is of no consequence to them. They do not know how to negotiate, nor how to treat others with dignity and respect, but more importantly they don’t care about the rights and dignity of others. Narcissist’s are driven by their own selfish desires and they do not care about you, about others or about anything other than themselves. When they do care about you it is only in relation to themselves in terms of getting what they want and what you will provide for them. Narcissism is essentially a sickness of extreme callous deviant selfishness. You cannot reason with someone who only cares about themselves and who disregards those around them.

I have met narcissists who believe that they have all the rights in the world, that is, to your time, your money and your possessions. Another such narcissist loves to spend a lot of time in small claims court as their public record shows just how often they waste the time of the courts (as well as unsuspecting defendants) battling targets over what they believe is owed to them. Entitlement much?

One of the two most effective strategies by which narcissists’ get what they want is by the use of rage and by also convincing themselves and those around them that they are in fact the “victim.” They have an uncanny way of crying victim after they have abused, abandoned and cruelly hurt their own children or target.

I know of a narcissist who showed me bruises that ran up and down the length of both of her arms, and while wiping a tear from her eye she shared how she got these when in a fight with her husband. She went on to say that the police had to come to her home. At first I felt compassion for her, but eventually the full story emerged and as it turned out she obtained those bruises while beating her husband with her arms, fists and hands. It was her husband who called the police looking for help. Although she was the abuser she was still longing for and looking for pity, sympathy and concern from those around her. She was so delusional that the truth of her story was completely left out when foraging for attention. Have you noticed that narcissist’s do not tell the whole story? The are strategic editors that spin a story for the advantage of getting supply. Supply is the delicious drug that narcissists crave, that is, attention, recognition, sympathy, status, and the like. 

There is a technical psychological term for all this anger however. It is called, “narcissistic rage.”  This is the unreasonable and profound anger stemming from a huge deficit in emotional maturity. Narcissistic rage has been noted as the reaction the narcissistic has to perceived slights (clinically termed narcissistic injury).  This emotional immaturity serves the selfish needs of the narcissist due to the way they manipulate those closest to them with fear. They become so scary and irrational that those around them tend to capitulate. Being a grown demanding baby does have its perks. No one wants to deal with the annoying behaviours and relentless demands of the narcissist so often they turn a blind eye inadvertently reinforcing the negative behaviours.

Question: What happens if you give in to an angry person today? Answer: You will be giving in to them tomorrow, the next day, and the next day after that throughout the the entire time you know and relate to this person. Standing your ground will be tough, but so very necessary.  


Getting Away With Theft

Narcissist’s are the ultimate thieves as they believe they are entitled to everything you have and they spend most of their lives coveting (longing for what is not theirs) as they are extremely jealous people. They are angry and will turn on you if they think they can steal the shirt off your back, as they are entitled in their distorted mind believing that everything you have is ultimately theirs. The thing is it does not stop there as narcissists, although they don’t think of it as stealing, will stop at nothing to steal your friends, your parents, your children, and even your grandchildren.

I’ve known narcissists who have essentially taken over other people’s families, other people’s parents and business’ that was never theirs to begin with. Have you ever met someone who has commandeered spaces and people that were not theirs to lead? They have a way of infiltrating the boundaries of other people’s lives. Narcissist’s are highly skilled people manipulators.

The name narcissist comes from mythology, but it really ought to be changed to “Extreme People Manipulators” because they do not only manipulate one person at a time, but they manipulate entire groups of people as well. They also manipulate large organizations. In other words, wherever there are people there will be a narcissist in the midst. The illness that is narcissism is dependent on the social sphere of any given group dynamic. Narcissists do not come with a warning label so it is imperative that you pick up on the signs. The first sign is to trust your gut, your senses and your reflective experience. Now is the time to stop brushing off your story and if you were family scapegoat you were trained to distrust your senses. Now is the time to become curious to how you are experiencing situations and the people around you. You don’t have to confront anyone or do anything, but become curious and observant at this point.

The reason for the unrest in a narcissistic home is not the children. It isn’t that so and so did or did not do something. The real reason for the family distress is that the narcissist, (as well as narcissists’ in the making) all suffer from severe emotional dysregulation and have no idea how to handle themselves. Because they are so out of sorts within themselves they revert to selfish demanding immature tactics essentially, because these strategies work. Why use mature reciprocity if that doesn’t get you what you want? Narcissist’s have to win at all costs and the costs are very high to those receiving the brunt of their abusive personality.


Blame Shifters Promote Family Bullying

Narcissist’s end up handling themselves with an extremely childlike immaturity that demand the world come through for them or else. The adage goes, “If only so and so did this or didn’t do that,” then the narcissist or narcissists (in the making) wouldn’t have to get so angry. It is the ultimate in blame shifting which works to avoid taking ownership over one’s own emotions and faulty thinking. “So and so made me act out of control and they are the reason for my inner torment,” goes the inner dialogue of abusive individuals. This manifestation of family dynamics serve as a smoke screen as the person or person(s) raging actually have anger management problems, but refuse to take ownership. In “reality” everyone makes mistakes and in healthy family system mistakes are not only allowed they are actually encouraged. It is by mistakes that people grow, that vulnerability is fostered, and where people can share together what it is like to be truly human.

In unhealthy and dark family systems, (and narcissism is part of the dark triad in the diagnostic manual) typically headed by a raging narcissist, mistakes are dealt with as follows: The narcissistic and protege'(s) never admit to any mistakes or hurtful behaviour. They rationalize that the reason they lash out is due to someone else. This doesn’t stop at how they deal with family members, but this is also how they deal with people they view as lower status in the workplace and social setting as well. They are masters of knowing who they can target and who they cannot. They are image managers of themselves and regardless of their bad behaviour they will always/always come out of the story as the victim. I will note why this heaps more abuse upon family & workplace scapegoats further in another article.

The only person allowed to make any errors are the narcissistic parent and the narcissistic child (in the making) who are in fact the narcissist’s protege’. The rest of the family members do not want to experience the wrath of the narcissist and protege’ so they too join in and point fingers towards the family scapegoat. Essentially the only one who is acknowledged to be making any errors are family scapegoats. This lie is ridiculous to any rational observer, but unfortunately this is not a rational group of people. It is a group of people trying to survive the raging narcissist. The rest of the family members buy into the lie. It is a sort of self-preservation where no one will admit fault or share in any responsibility otherwise the punishment would be too great.


School Yard Bully Dynamics Within The Family 

Just like school yard bullying may cause so many bystanders to opt out of helping the bullied child, the same dynamic is true within family systems. It is the ultimate form of family bullying. No one speaks up for the bullied child, therefore, the bystanders become guilty by either doing nothing to stop the abuse, or they themselves may be frightened of the bully, they in fact join in to administer the punishments to save themselves. In more insidious cases many bystanders engage in bullying the scapegoat in order to elevate their own status within the group. They often do this for their own power and control issues in combination with the fact that if they enjoy more status they are less likely to be mistreated themselves. Only people with a well developed sense of integrity and whom have their own support systems can withstand these sorts of group dynamics. When imposed on children by parent(s) the results are 100% compliance to family bullying.

The family scapegoat must carry the sins of the entire household. I cannot begin to share with you how many scapegoats wind up in my office or any other mental health support system for that matter. The level of self- blame, self-condemnation, self-recrimination is so great clients have become suicidal, self sabotaging, and tend to repeat unhealthy patterns within intimate relationships where they expect to be treated poorly.


She Didn’t Want To Make Her Ex-Husband Look Bad

A client of mine (whose role in her family of origin was scapegoat) was going through a divorce and her brother accused her of having an affair and not working on her marriage. This toxic sibling further violated her boundaries by speaking with the woman’s soon to be ex-husband (as well as all other family members) while never fully knowing that in fact it was the woman’s ex-husband who had the affair. In reality this woman had spent an entire lifetime dealing with her husband’s chronic lies and exasperating marital discord which led to her divorce. She couldn’t bring herself to discuss this with her brother as she didn’t want to make her ex-husband look bad. Yet her brother and ex-husband seemed to delight in the dismantling of her reputation.

The transition of separation into divorce is an extremely intense and difficult time for people, therefore, it is interesting that within her particular dysfunctional family system she was met with more of the same of what she endured in her childhood, that is, siblings offloading their own pain onto her at a time when she could barely withstand the pain in her own life. It is usually the personal pain experienced by the sibling from their own life’s story that gets offloaded at the first opportunity. Unconsciously this thinking is what drives the behaviour of the abusive sibling, “I feel terrible because of my divorce and I’m going to make you feel even worse. I feel helpless so I am going to blame you for these inner feelings within me.” In a healthy family system she would have received unconditional love and support to her suffering. So instead of helping the woman as she went through a painful divorce the brother smeared her name throughout her family of origin rendering any kind of emotional support to be cut off completely rendering her isolated and alone.


Needing Love Yet Receiving Pain

Scapegoats tend to allow dysfunctional controlling people into their inner circles and it isn’t until much suffering do they reach out for help and support. The challenge in the coaching room is actually to help the client break through their scapegoat role mantra, that they are “not good enough” or to break through their thinking that they somehow deserve to be abused (perhaps due to some sin or perceived infraction from their past). In one’s life journey everyone will let someone down as some point. It is part of the human condition. Forgiveness and self forgiveness are key pathways forward for all of us.

Forgiveness and self forgiveness are not familiar within the scapegoated person’s story and since people often repeat what is familiar, scapegoated people often find themselves re-living their “two steps down” role assigned to them from their family of origin. The symptomology within the family scapegoat is similar to those who have suffered from severe mental torture due to the fact that the scapegoated person has indeed suffered from severe mental torture, but this abuse is so profound in one’s life as it was inflicted from the hands of those whom they were supposed to feel safe, valued, and cared for. Those who have suffered mental torture in their homes of origin suffer a unique wound in that they often spend a lifetime wondering if a home that is safe is just not realistic. Many have given up the idea that they have any agency over creating a safe space for themselves in this world.


Red Flags In My Office

The role of family scapegoat is highly symptomatic of the ills of the entire family system. The serious manifestations of the pain and torture that the person who has been scapegoated suffers come to light through expressions and behaviours that emit self-loathing, self reproach and self sabotage. Behaviours that inflict further pain and suffering are often indicators of low self worth revealing quite probably significant devaluing, as well as, revealing a lack of nurturance during formative years. When a person presents with apologizing for things they do not have to apologize for, taking ownership over things they have no reason to own, and essentially blaming themselves for the bad behaviour of others it is suspect that I may have a scapegoated person in my office. It is as though the scapegoat is saying, “Hey you don’t have to hit me, yell at me or shame me. I can do this for you.”


Developing the “Self” in Nutrient Dense Environments

The “individual self” requires a healthy environment one which increases the likelihood for individuals to take risks, make mistakes, explore, laugh, cry and express all emotions in a safe and caring setting.  The environment created by the narcissistic parent does not provide nutrient dense soil to make growth possible. Instead the narcissistic environment is wrought with angry self-invested narcissists’ who manipulate all those using harmful behaviours for the sake of their own grandiosity. Selfish evil people do selfish evil things to get what they want. They lie, manipulate, and influence those who are vulnerable, frightened and powerless. There is nothing more evil in this world than to manipulate vulnerable people to gain gratification.


The Second In Command: It’s Much More Sinister Than You Think

Getting out from under the toxic system begins with the understanding that the system itself exists. Let’s examine who might determine the status of family members to begin with. It is usually the dominant extremely narcissistic parent, as well as, the second in command, that is, the narcissistic sibling. So how does one sibling become so powerful within the family structure so much so, that they are party to who becomes the family scapegoat? A child must possess two significant criteria in order to become as narcissistic as the narcissistic parent.

The second in command is the child through whom the narcissistic parent sees their own reflection, as well as, this child must also suffer from the same character deficits exhibited by the narcissistic parent.

My view is that while some Psychologists’ would label this preferred child the Golden Child, I do not necessarily see them as narcissists in the making. I believe that even golden children are victims within this unhealthy dysfunctional family system. Many colden children have a conscience and although they may enjoy feeling favoured from time to time, many feel compassion and empathy towards the scapegoated child. Many golden children feel that what is going on within the family is morally wrong and emotionally destructive. Not all bystanders (the children at school those whom are not being bullied) approve of the bullying of the scapegoat. Not all family members approve of the bullying of the scapegoated child within the family. Many golden children are at a loss on how to help. So in a nutshell, favouring a child doesn’t create a narcissist. Mere favouritism will hurt the non favoured siblings and promote sibling rivalry, but favouritism alone does not have enough teeth to create a narcissistic person.

Just a side note: When it comes to deviant behaviours in adulthood, Sociologists and Psychologists agree that specific undesirable behaviours were present within the person throughout their childhood. For example, most sociopathic serial killers had a childhood fascination with death and have been known to have tortured and murdered pets and animals. It is in looking back into the childhood of the deviant adult where patterns of behaviour emerge. So too can we look back from adult narcissists and see variables of behaviours and thinking that were present in childhood.

The child who will become the second in command suffers significantly (or more accurately makes others suffer) from significant moral and character deficits. They exhibit the same character deficits displayed by the parent narcissist, but on the scale of what children can do. This child who will grow into a full blown narcissistic adult will show a number of signs when interacting with others. The list below is not comprehensive and keep in mind that exhibiting elements of this list does not ensure that a  child will grow into a full blown narcissist. What this list does reveal is that when looking back from the adult narcissist and into their childhood these variables will be clearly evident.

The overarching element that defines a narcissist is their lack empathy for others. This lack of empathy cannot be overstated so this will be the cornerstone of what is observed throughout their childhood, adolescence and well into their adulthood.

In childhood these children are observed to exhibit the following: They do not care about the rights, feelings and experiences of their siblings or classmates, they will be first and get the most, they give others their scraps and never offer first choice, they blame others for their misdeeds, they delight in watching others get into trouble, they insist on getting from others what they would never give from themselves, they have an unrealistic view of what is owed to them as they often want something for nothing (this includes good grades, allowance etc.) They do not notice the sadness or hurt represented on children’s faces instead they are concerned if they will get into trouble, they do not show remorse for the hurt they cause, they do not apologize except at the command of an adult, they do not nurture or care for their younger siblings, they view siblings, animals and friends as competitors of attention, money, time, and status, they twist the truth, tell lies, fabricate stories, embellish scenarios, they often end up being the top dog of “mean girl” cliques or “bullyish boy” roles in high school. They make fun of and humiliate others to gain popularity, they steal through acts of omission or may even steal outright, they play the role of victim to gain favour with adults and pin blame on others, and unfortunately for the rest of us they do grow up and show up in managerial or leadership roles in the workplace.

Keep in mind that having the above noted characteristics are not predictors of narcissism in adulthood. What will enable narcissism to flourish into adulthood will be the above noted characteristics in combination with being significantly empowered by a narcissistic parent/adult. It is this perfect cocktail that will increase the likelihood that pathological traits will flourish into adulthood. This is a tragic (not magic) formula.


Suffering Sheds Light 

Just like some Jewish prisoners of Nazi concentration camps were given command to keep the other Jewish prisoners in line they often did so as they were rewarded with food, small cash incentives, and other freedoms that the other prisoners were not able to obtain. This is the ultimate example of bullying and mercilessness. Some Jewish prisoners who were placed in command over their peers went so far as to take on the persona of the Nazis’ as they punished and tortured their fellow Jewish prisoners, but not all did so at least not in the same way. Many pretended to be hard on their fellow prisoners when the Nazis were in their midst, but once the Nazis left the area they made sure their fellow Jewish peers were not abused. This happened due to their empathy that was embedded into their character. There were a few other Jewish prisoners who were placed in command of their Jewish peers, however who did get a sick sense of power when placed into these roles. The Nazis themselves were strategic in whom they placed in these positions, but it must have been difficult to determine who was “acting ruthless” and who was in fact “ruthless.” We cannot know for certain, but as the saying goes, “You will know them by their fruits,” so too is it with malignant narcissism. Time reveals many truths if you remain observant.

Like the example noted above, narcissistic tendencies in childhood that are empowered by the narcissistic parent result in devastating consequences for the family scapegoat. By giving power and control to the empathy deficit child results in such a disaster. The reason being that the empathy deficient child does not exercise any restraint due to their internal lack of  compassion to curb their own deviant self serving behaviours.

So when will we know if this empathy deficient child will become a full blown narcissist? Within the time between moving out of the family of origin home and the time that they start their own family is where the age of accountability kicks in. At this juncture it can be determined if the empathy deficient child has been empowered to the point of no return from the narcissistic adult of or if they have chosen to walk a more healthy and loving path. The indicator of the empathy deficient child becoming a narcissist is if they continue to punish the family scapegoat. If they continue in this punishment you can be certain that they have fully graduated into the role of senior narcissist. Heaven help their own children as the cycle will repeat itself into the next generation.


Is Health Possible for Narcissists?

Very few narcissists’ can be rehabilitated, because narcissists do not believe they have anything to work on. They will attribute any concerning issue to be the fault of the other person. They do not typically go for counselling/coaching/therapy etc. as they believe they are victims in this world, because other people are not listening to them, doing as they say or not making them feel extra especially important. Look out if you insult a narcissist for if you do you will experience rage like never before. They are easily angered, easily offended, easily set off due to their fragile sense of self. If you address their victim mentality while they are caught hurting other people they have been known to get up and walk out of sessions. They are notorious “phone hanger uppers.” They walk out of rooms when someone else has something to share. They are not able to recognize how they contribute to any unhappy situation. Typically in their minds they have absolutely nothing to learn and that other people need to be fixed. Their favourite catch phrases include, “Can you do me a favour?” as well as, “That person is nuts!” In teacher speak, you cannot teach someone who knows everything.

It is difficult to help an adult narcissist, but nothing is impossible. A significant humbling down is necessary though and this often results after significant life blows; such as divorce, job loss, money loss, abandonment realized etc. The best time to help a narcissist, however is when they are younger. There is so much research today on Emotional Intelligence as well as Moral Intelligence. Michelle Bourba teaches teachers how to teach for Moral Intelligence in school. Some people just need explicit teaching on what is acceptable and what is not. There are other “Empathy” training programs that take place in schools, one is called, “Roots of Empathy.” In “Roots of Empathy” a real baby is brought into the classroom with their mother where conversations about needs, health and caring are discussed with young children. Even those children who are empathy deficient can learn what empathy means (if only) cognitively they often can manage their behaviour to act appropriately with others. This makes life better for everyone long term including the “empathy deficient” person. Teaching children about empathy, creating limits no matter how angry the child becomes are just mere steps in the right direction. It is okay for people who have difficulty feeling empathy to know that they cannot behave in ways that they wouldn’t want repeated back to them. If you have been mistreated by a narcissist or someone you would define as empathy deficient seriously think about reaching out for help. It is never too late to change your view of the world and your life.

Now that those goat horns feel more like paper what do you say it’s time to tear them off? Read on in part 3 to find out how to do so.

If you would like to have 1:1 coaching feel free to reach out to or We work online with people all over the world and in person at our coaching office located in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada.

Until next time,


Waves Design