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How to undo designated role of Family scapegoat Identified Patient or Symptom bearer

Community Member
Hello I was raised as the Identified Patient, Symptom Bearer (Bowen Family Systems Therapy), and family Scapegoat - a serious family dysfunctional problem in which one member of the family a child is blamed, shamed, bullied for small things, picked on and constantly put down. It's a generational pattern of abuse that is passed down to the children. As I suffered hidden abuse, my family see my mental illness as proof I am a black sheep and insane. my large extended family enjoy my suffering and take great pleasure in my mental illness. They act normal around normal people Mum is a Nurse Manager Dad a successful business owner I chose to be homeless to avoid them but it was difficult. I do love them but they are genuinely hooked on shaming me, how do I overcome this and stop family scapegoating of me, I really need restorative justice and resources or specific strategies to make my family acknowledge the past so I can heal and please have a healthy future relationship with them?
5 Replies 5

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Andy, and welcome to the forums.

Being a scapegoat is when the family zeros in on you to hang all their messed up issues and to burden you with all the guilt and responsibility so they don't have to themselves, so you're actually being bullied.

It's when their angry feelings and inappropriate accusation are placed on you, so you feel a form of rejection and this can lead you to psychological problems.

The concern is you may accept all of the blame and their finger pointing despite the fact that it’s untrue and even if you argue back you are then blamed even further.

If you are in a position you could leave this family unit but this isn't that easy in many situations, however, if you speak to a psychologist after a referral from your doctor and asking them about the 'mental health plan', which entitles to 10 Medicare paid sessions per year could be a good starting point for you.

Hope to hear back from you.


How can you stop this

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Andy_G,

Thank you for your post. This is such a complex question I'm not sure any of us can really answer it. Can I ask how you found out about scapegoating and Bowens Family Systems Theory? Was this through seeing a therapist or through your own readings?

I think a big part of healing is figuring out what healing looks like for you and your family - would your parents be open to reflecting or acknowledging the past? Would your parents be open to changing their behaviour? If they are, that's fantastic - but often people aren't interested at all which means that you can only work on your own behaviour/reactions. We can only ever encourage people to look back on the past, but that's not always something everyone is open to unfortunately.

Geoff mentioned a psychologist and I think that this is a great idea. That way they can work on you 1:1, or even together as a family to find out what's going to work best for you.


Community Member

Hi Geoff,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply, yes was and continues to be family bullying. The Mental health plan was the reason I was woken up to the family bullying and identifying me as sick in a toxic family system. At first I was happy as I finally had some knowledge why my life had been so confusing and crazy... double bind and trauma bonding to a narcissistic mother is crazy.

now I try very hard to be independent and not reliant on Narc mom but is challenging as I have significant mental illness and other health issues

thank you

the thing that would help this scapegoat kid is secure safe housing for ever

Dear RR

thank you is because of psychologist got referred to Bowen famiky therapy as my mum was seen sabotaging my mental health and services thought to help. Is still a huge struggle and stress... get abused manipulated or try to live alone, is difficult for me as I have complex ptsd and other health issues

wouldn’t wish being a scapegoat kid to anyone destroyed my mental health and life

best regards

Hi Andy_G,

Thanks for your post; it's good to hear back from you.

It sounds like you've had a lot of self discovery from seeing this psychologist; I'm really glad to hear that - being able to wrap your head around why life can be so crazy and why you might feel the way you do.

What sorts of things has your psychologist suggested in helping you move forward from C-PTSD? Are you both wanting to work with your family, or is more so managing and making sense of the way that your family has affected you?

For what it's worth, you still can heal even if your family isn't apart of that healing.