Walking away from an entire family is one of the most painful things the family scapegoat adult child in a narcissistic family will ever do. Abuse from the narcissistic family towards the scapegoat is often so severe, and so mentally damaging, that the only solution left after exhausting all other avenues, is to walk away from the family unit, and anybody outside of the family unit, connected to the family.
Scapegoating is contagious – and once the family scapegoat has been earmarked for this kind of abuse, friends of the perpetrators, or relatives ( minions) previously uninvolved in the situation, may involve themselves in scapegoating this member of the family; just because they can. This is the nature of scapegoating. Once the smear campaign is at work, and infiltrates everybody within the narcissist’s circles, the scapegoat no longer has any control over the situation. Explaining away one’s own innocence proves unproductive. The only options left are to walk away, and to remain non-reactive.
At the centre of the scapegoating problem within the family unit, is often an extremely emotionally dangerous, triangulating narcissistic parent, often aided by either an unaware enabling parent, a narcissistic golden child or a flying monkey golden child with a lack of awareness in what they have become involved in.
Earmarked for abuse
Scapegoated individuals are often earmarked for abuse by their narcissistic parent early on in childhood because they are the child who sees through the narcissist’s façade. This ability to see through the narcissist eventuates in family mobbing and the destruction of the scapegoat’s reputation.
The narcissist’s false self cannot take any criticism; and will dish out low blows to anybody who dares challenge the narcissist’s reality – which is not reality.
How does one become a scapegoat?
To become a scapegoat, one must be highly empathetic, very strong emotionally, extremely caring, easily vexed by abusive behaviour, and emotionally sensitive to nasty, cruel actions. This type of individual can literally feel the hurt and pain from those being abused and will pull up the abusers on their behaviour without a second thought.
This child will challenge the narcissist’s false self over and over again; inflicting narcissistic injury upon narcissistic injury to the narcissist’s false self. They are now a threat. In a nutshell, the narcissist must brainwash this child into believing that they are inherently bad. If this sadistic parent can gain control over this child’s opinion of themselves, and manipulate the child into believing that they, instead of the parent, are actually the problem, then the narcissist will be safe from future narcissistic injuries. This child’s view of themselves is now tainted, which will see them second-guessing themselves – and will hinder the child from feeling confident enough to be their true authentic self within this family unit, or in their interpersonal relationships with others later on in life.
To reclaim control over the child, the narcissist will smash the scapegoat’s self-esteem apart, and smash at their developing sense of self by attributing their own abusive traits to the child. The narcissist rids these traits from within themselves, by projecting them onto the child. The narrative projected onto the child is often ‘you’re crazy, angry, abusive, dysfunctional, mentally unstable.’ Of course, as we all know, the narcissist is all of these things, not the child.
To scapegoat an adult child of a narcissistic parent, the parent must have participants. These participants are usually an enabling parent, and the scapegoat’s siblings, who almost always engage in the scapegoating epidemic, because they have not yet cottoned on to the reality that they are being brainwashed, and the narcissistic parent actually has a serious mental illness. Although, that being said, the narcissist selects their flying monkeys, based on the ease at which they can brainwash them. In most cases, the narcissistic parent will secure the child most like them, or the child most easily manipulated and brainwashed, into siding with them in taunting the scapegoat.
Very often, the most obvious ally is the narcissist’s golden child (mini-me). Firstly, the narcissistic parent will triangulate the golden child and the scapegoat against each other. Than the narcissistic parent will smear the scapegoat’s name to the golden child. In no time at all, the golden child will be under the spell of mind control, and will be convinced of the scapegoat’s inherent badness.
These two perpetrators will launch a dangerous smear campaign against the scapegoat and will sell it to the other family members. The focus of the smear campaign will be on the scapegoat’s sins; which apparently deem the scapegoat unworthy of love – and worthy instead of being ostracised and punished by everybody else in the family unit.
This act of family mobbing will almost always eventuate because of the obvious threat the scapegoat poses to the family unit as a whole. Truth tellers are not allowed in this family unit.
These attacks of family mobbing are not uncommon in the narcissistic family system. They are almost always set up by the narcissistic parent as a payback to the scapegoat for usually disagreeing with the narcissist’s opinion on something they deem important, requiring support – which of course would take attention away from the narcissistic parent, or for exposing some minor abuses incurred from the narcissistic parent, to an enabling parent, or other family members. To silence the scapegoat, or to pay them back, and show them who’s boss, the narcissist will set the scapegoat up by turning the adult children against them. They will do whatever it takes to destroy the other family members relationships with the scapegoat; which will, of course, cause horrendous pain to the scapegoat, and cut deep. The narcissist most likely fears the scapegoat will completely expose them as the fake they truly are. So they must remove them from the family.
The scapegoat says ‘no more.’
After decades of psychological abuse, random family interventions on the scapegoat, years of smearing, backstabbing, triangulation, and more likely than not, another attack of family mobbing – the scapegoat says ‘enough is enough.’ The final goodbye is not pretty, and usually, after the final confrontation, the scapegoat walks away. Nothing has worked. Assertion hasn’t worked, distress hasn’t worked, and most of the scapegoat’s warranted reactions have backfired on them.
The entire family watches on in dismay as the scapegoat informs the family that they will no longer be abused by them, and wants nothing more to do with them. They wander off into the darkness, (which eventually turns to light) never to return.
An earthquake has literally erupted, and the scapegoat’s family of origin is left to pick up the pieces. Narcissism is one of the few conditions where the true victim is left alone in a complete state of emotional terror; and isolation, while everybody flutters around the emotional terrorist, and dotes on them. Whereas the true victim often walks away from their war-torn family, only to have a complete psychotic breakdown.
The entire family turns their back on the scapegoat in their time of need. Members who once supported the scapegoat have become victims of brainwashing and now believe in the lie. Not one single family member will check to see if the scapegoat is ok – and nobody tries to find them; because nobody cares. This is the nature of the narcissistic family unit.
It is very unlikely that anybody within the family unit will ever actually have an epiphany, understand what they have been involved in, and actually realise the breadth of the damage done to the scapegoat. If the scapegoat’s family ever did try to find the scapegoat, it wouldn’t be to empathise with them. It would instead be to convince them that they should come back to the family, and honour their mother or father. These people are not going to apologise for what they have been a part of, and will most likely never be able to access the empathy required to understand the emotional agony the scapegoat has actually endured.
A member of the family who acts as a flying monkey for the narcissist, and tries to hoover the scapegoat back into the family unit, subconsciously does so, in the hope that the scapegoat will come back to the family to fulfil their role as the family trash can. Life becomes difficult for the narcissistic family when the trash can leaves. However, it becomes harder to blame the scapegoat when the endless drama between the family members continues – even when the scapegoat is nowhere to be found.
The earthquake has erupted
After being smeared, and trashed talked to such extensive degrees amongst the immediate family members, and extended family, scapegoat’s often choose to speak their truth, in relation the family dynamic, and reveal to extended family members, or to curious enquirers known to the narcissist, that the narcissist is indeed the main reason for the dissension in the family unit.
The narcissist wasn’t prepared for this. Revealing the narcissistic family dynamic to enquiring minds without trash talking the family, or stooping down to their level, is often the only way for the scapegoat to recover their reputation, which is often destroyed in the face of cousins, aunts, or even grandparents. A lot of these people see through the ruse and sympathise with the scapegoat. However; others don’t.
It is not uncommon for a scapegoat to find support in an extended family filled with cousins, where they can openly discuss the scapegoating epidemic within the family. This decision to assert their truth is very empowering; because for an entire lifetime, the scapegoat has watched on as the narcissist has lied about them, deemed them mentally unwell, smeared their name to anyone who would listen, and has done everything they could to break them. All the while the scapegoat has most likely remained loyal and hasn’t revealed the truth.
The tables have turned, and the scapegoat is gaining their power back. What the narcissist wasn’t prepared for is the scapegoat’s comeback.
This statement from the scapegoat is very powerful. Depending on the extent of the narcissist’s malignancy, the narcissist, along with their minions have been known to withdraw from an assertive supa – nova scapegoat’s sting. The family now knows that the scapegoat will never ever be available for family mobbing, family bullying, baiting, goading, exclusion, and other cruel acts of emotional terrorism, ever again. The family has been called out.
This exposure repels the narcissistic family from the scapegoat. They know the scapegoat is a force to be reckoned with; and because of this, the scapegoat will most likely never ever hear from these crazy-making family members ever again. They are free, and are now in survival mode after having left a war-torn family.
What happens to the family when the scapegoat leaves?
The family, on the other hand, is left to deal with the family problems all on their own. The scapegoat has quit after decades of abuse. The family trashcan is gone, and the family will now have to deal with their own rubbish or shift it over to a newly appointed scapegoat.
The family members will gossip and trash talk amongst themselves about how terrible the scapegoat is for as long as the subject can keep them entertained. This collaboration of forces against the scapegoat in their absence may connect these family members for a time – but eventually, they are back to square one, dealing with the same problems within the family unit that they were once blaming the scapegoat for.
What everybody has failed to recognise in this major debacle, is that the main problem in the family unit, the narcissist, still lives and breathes in the adult children’s domain. The ringleader, and primary crazy maker, the narcissist, is not going to change just because the scapegoat has left. This sick human being is still going to continue to triangulate all of the other family members and to cause chaos where once there was none. The narcissist doesn’t know any other way. The family members who mistakably thought that all of the families problems would be fixed once the scapegoat left are in for in a huge shock. I am speculating here; but the problems are only just beginning.
What happened to the scapegoat the day they left?
After an act of family mobbing against the scapegoat, all of the family members flock around the narcissist, while the real victim, the scapegoat, is left in a state of emotional terror.
The scapegoat has lost everything all in one sitting. They have lost their family, close relationships with the members of the family that were turned against them, their dignity, their reputation, and their identity. Their identity has been trashed in this family unit, they have no reputation left, and they are in a state of shock. It is not unusual for someone this bullied to have a complete psychotic breakdown, experience suicidal ideation, fantasise about dying, experience C-PTSD symptoms, huge triggers, and daily panic attacks.
Narcissistic abuse is a complete attack on the soul, personality, and emotions; almost always leaving victims feeling emotionally dysregulated, suffering panic attacks or agoraphobia. The scapegoat is left in a state of emotional upheaval.
This innocent victim of abuse has been cast out and left to fend for themselves. They are vulnerable, fragile, and broken.
The scapegoat embarks on the biggest healing journey of their life
If the scapegoat has a partner, healing from narcissistic abuse is going to be a smoother process. However, if the scapegoat is completely alone in their healing, then they may struggle immensely. If they are alone, or with a clan of children (a single mother) while grieving, then the lack of family support will take its toll.
Either way, the scapegoat is about to embark on what could be described as one of the darkest, bleakest, scariest journeys a person can embark on. They are about to grieve years and years and years of abuse, rejection, abandonment, and betrayal, from the people who were meant to love them. Grieving an entire family is one of the darkest, bleakest, scariest journey’s a person can endure. It is often filled with horror, depression, shame, guilt, and condemnation of self.
Years and years of brainwashing has taken its toll and has controlled the scapegoat beyond belief. The chains which have held them captive emotionally for a lifetime, are finally about to begin to dissolve. This may take a number of years. However, as time goes on, the scapegoat will most likely eventually relinquish the crazy cult like beliefs drummed into them; as well as their brainwashed pathology – by finally realising that they can now be the autonomous being they always wanted to be, because no one is watching them, or judging their every move, any more.
This journey may be very painful, but joyful, bleak, but full of opportunity, and darker than one could imagine. However, once the grieving is done, the light is brighter than the scapegoat ever thought it could be.
The aftermath – the feelings felt
The shame that the scapegoat feels after being so terribly psychologically abused for an entire lifetime will most likely eat away at them for a long time. They may even experience regular shame spirals for a number of years, even after they have gone no contact.
The seven stages of grief are relentless, and will often feel never-ending while enduring; because the day the scapegoat left is the day their family died.
The rainbow after the storm
However, at the very same time that the scapegoat experiences these terribly overwhelming, gut-wrenching feelings of shame, pain, guilt, anger, rage, and complete distress; they also feel an immense sense of freedom. For the first time in their lives they are free to do what they want, when they want to, without having a bunch of nasty onlookers laughing at them, picking their choices to pieces, disagreeing with their decisions, telling them how they should be, and still trying to control every single aspect of their lives in adulthood.
They don’t have to deal with regular family interventions anymore, their narcissistic parent constantly trying to gain attention for themselves by creating drama in the scapegoat’s life, and creating problems where there once were none.
For the first time in their entire lives, the scapegoat is free. For the first time in their life, they no longer have to walk on eggshells or behave with an incredible amount of hyper-vigilance. They now know which way the pendulum swings. For the first time in their life, they are emotionally safe.
Is it Tempting to go back?
Yes, it is tempting go back. The pain can get so bad at times that the scapegoat will probably feel tempted to go back to their family. However, once these emotions dissipate until next time, the scapegoat will in time, begin to feel a sense of freedom, and autonomy that they have never felt before.
It is especially tempting to go back to the family of origin if something goes wrong, and the scapegoat is experiencing an unbearable emotion which would normally dissipate with family support. Scapegoats are very very vulnerable in so many areas of their life because they have no family support.
The clarity which comes from healing
The more time one has away from the narcissistic family unit, the clearer they become about what was really going on. Within a few years, the fog completely lifts away, and the scapegoat realises they were duped by a false self, with a penchant for brainwashing, who claimed to be the scapegoat’s parent. They were living in an illusion for years with a very sick parent, as well as an enabling parent, who did very little to stop the abuse.
When you leave the narcissistic family, you leave a brainwashing facility; plain and simple. The brainwashing and indoctrination begin to lose power after some years of being away from narcissistic people. It is such an amazing feeling to learn that everything you were ever taught or were ever told about yourself was not reality, and was told to you and taught to you, so as to control you.
The narcissist’s belief systems are deranged – and the oppression the scapegoat lived under for so many years is not how normal people live. This is liberating. No one is watching the scapegoat anymore, judging the scapegoat, and picking the scapegoat to pieces. Mind control is wearing off, and it feels great.
The chains previously wrapped around the scapegoat’s soul are dissolving.
The scapegoat as an autonomous being
The scapegoat is now an autonomous being. They are no longer an extension of the narcissist; and after a lifetime of abuse, they now see through all of the lies. It takes a lot of internal work on one’s self to recover their self-esteem, lesson the effects of narcissistic abuse syndrome, and to find their voice again. It can be done, and will only be improved upon with time.
The scapegoat walks forward into the sunshine, and creates the best life they have ever had, and leaves behind them a war zone where everybody in the family unit continues to fight, bully, goad and provoke one another.
In today’s article, I am going to discuss the toxic dynamic between a highly malignant narcissistic ‘golden child,’ and the ‘scapegoated child’. Not all golden children are narcissistic, sociopathic, or psychopathic. The vast majority are just ‘golden’ – as in all good, doted on, coddled, and adored. However, the narcissistic ‘golden child’ is not so benign, and more often than not will take great pleasure in supporting the narcissistic parent in destroying the scapegoat child’s confidence and self- esteem. Sibling to sibling psychological abuse is very real and can affect the children abused by these toxic siblings terribly in adulthood.
The disordered golden child is not always the oldest child. However, a lot of the time the oldest child will play out the ‘golden child/ scapegoat dynamic’ with the second child within a narcissistic family set up. Many of my friends are either enduring this dynamic with an older golden child sibling still. Or, they have made the heart-wrenching decision to go No Contact with this older sibling.
The narcissistic ‘golden child’ will mistreat all of their siblings. However, the scapegoated child will endure the most, because they will be the child who refuses to go along with the narcissistic child’s illusions of grandeur. They will refuse to accept the narcissistic child’s belief that they are entitled to abuse, steal from others, become aggressive at the slightest criticism, or have complete control over other people. The scapegoated child refuses to mirror this child as they would like to be mirrored. So, the golden child, with the approval of the narcissistic parent, smashes the mirror.
The narcissist as a black and white thinker
Narcissists are black and white thinkers. They never see shades of grey. You’re either good or bad in their eyes. Very often two people will be separated into ‘black’ and ‘white’. One person will be seen as black (all bad) and the other will be seen as white (all good). Sometimes the two same people will rotate between good and bad, or black and white, in the mind of the narcissist.
The first child is often all good, and the second child is often all bad. However, this isn’t always the way it goes. Sometimes the first child is all bad, and the second child is all good.
Birth order plays a major role in personality development, without narcissism being involved. In a healthy family, the oldest child is the most likely child to emulate the parents. If the parents are narcissistic, the second child has a problem.
The narcissistic child as a replica of the narcissistic parent
The narcissistic golden child is often a replica of the narcissistic parent. They subconsciously take on the narcissistic parent’s values, beliefs, and way of life. They integrate these beliefs into every aspect of the life. Whereas the scapegoated child consciously completely rejects the narcissistic parent’s way of life, beliefs, and values. They consciously question the narcissist’s way of thinking – whereas the narcissistic child just goes along to get along.
The narcissistic child completely models their narcissistic parent and chooses to treat others based on how their role model treats others. The scapegoat, on the other hand, decides that they will treat people respectfully, because they don’t like how their narcissistic role model treats others.
Why does the narcissistic child take on the narcissist’s personality?
Nobody really knows why the narcissistic child takes on the same personality as their parent, and why the scapegoated child doesn’t. However, there are varying theories on the matter. Family dynamics also play a part in the creation of the golden child and the scapegoat.
The highly malignant golden child is not nurtured by the narcissistic parent. They can’t relay empathy, because they have never been shown any. Empathy is often taught. If a child isn’t pulled up on their ill-treatment of others and given consequences for it, then they don’t learn the difference between kindness and unkindness. If a child is not corrected on their behavior, then they’ll think that it is ok to behave badly. Nobody has told them otherwise. This child learns early on that they can do whatever they want.
In the narcissistic abuse communities, scapegoated adult children often discuss the reality that they as the scapegoat was constantly being pulled up on their poor behavior, and were constantly told when they weren’t treating people properly. The golden child, on the other hand, was never pulled up and was taught that whatever they did, no matter how vile, was seen as ok in the narcissistic parent’s eyes, because they were the golden child.
The expectations for each child, (scapegoated and golden) are different, to coincide with the narcissist’s black and white thinking.
The narcissistic golden child is encouraged to take on the un-empathetic, self-serving behavior of the parent, whereas the scapegoated individuals are often told that they are ruthless, and need to be more empathetic.
”Don’t be like the scapegoat! ”
The golden child learns very quickly that to gain the narcissistic parent’s approval, one must behave in this un-empathetic, judgemental, disgusting way. If they behave like the scapegoat, (concerned, empathetic, and loving) they will be treated like the scapegoat. The narcissistic golden child refuses to stand in the corner with the scapegoated child and have stones thrown at them. Instead, they unconsciously decide that one will fare better in this family system, and may even gain some approval, or feigned love and support if they take on the role of psycho bully.
This isn’t thought out properly. It’s just a survival of the fittest mentality that some children (narcissistically inclined children) take on.
The malignancy of any golden child can very much depend on the family dynamic. If the narcissistic child only has a narcissistic mother or father to mirror, then the child is in big trouble. However, if this child has some love from one parent, that parent being the enabling parent, then the child may fair better in terms of malignancy.
The scapegoat rejects narcissism
The scapegoat has the empathy gene, and they know how to love. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes, and feel their pain. This ability to feel the internal pain of others is what drives them to speak up about the abuse from the narcissistic parent towards both the ‘golden child,’ and themselves.
It is not clear as to why the scapegoat child is more sensitive to the feelings of others and has more empathy. It may be because they are seen as all ‘black’ in the mind of the narcissistic parent. The scapegoated child is constantly reminded by the narcissist that they need to be empathetic, kind, and improve upon the innate ‘badness’ that the narcissist has projected onto them. This treatment often pushes the scapegoat child to work even harder to prove their goodness to the narcissistic parent.
A lack of entitlement may be their saving grace, or; they may simply have been nurtured more than the golden child by an enabling parent somewhere along the line.
The narcissistic parent’s rejection of the scapegoated child is a double-edged sword. In some ways being rejected pays for this child. Luckily they were never embraced with a sick love, and never had delusions of grandeur thrown their way. They escaped the false self which took over the narcissistic child, and the damage done to them is somewhat reparable.
The narcissist’s differential treatment of the two children puts the scapegoat in a position where they begin to see through their golden child sibling. They can see straight through the lie the golden child has fallen victim to. The scapegoated child knows their golden child sibling is not entitled, knows they are not grand, are not going to be famous, and is not this amazing person the narcissistic parent keeps making out they are. They see how cruel this child is becoming. So, the scapegoat child openly rejects narcissism.
What happens when the scapegoat talks about the elephant in the room?
The scapegoated child is in big trouble. This mother (father) and son, or mother (father) and daughter duo are the hierarchy. The second child either follows suit, and allows the narcissistic parent and golden child to control them, without complaining; or they complain, and become scapegoated.
The scapegoated option is the option unintentionally chosen by the second child, who almost always ends up sparring with the entitled child daily, and complaining endlessly to the narcissistic parent about the endless abuses incurred from the golden child. Challenging the narcissist’s illusion about their ‘special’ child ends badly for the scapegoated child. They spend their entire childhood being pecked at by a psychologically dangerous child, and a psychotic parent.
This golden child represents to the narcissistic parent everything amazing they see in themselves. The narcissistic parent lives and breathes through this grandiose, omnipotent, amazing child. This is the child that will defend the narcissist to no end, battle all of the people that continue to harm the narcissist’s ego, and will prove their omnipotence to the people around them. The narcissist will shine like a star through this child.
The scapegoat child strikes blow upon blow to the narcissist’s ego when they point out that the golden child isn’t so wonderful, is floored, troubled, and mean. This creates a huge narcissistic injury in this parent, who sees everything they love about themselves in this narcissistic child.
The narcissistic parent doesn’t encourage love between the two children
There is no love here. Only pure hatred from the narcissistic golden child towards the scapegoated child. The relationship between these two children is very similar to the iconic Cain and Able tale in the bible. The narcissistic parent deliberately sets this dynamic up for their own vested interests.
This dangerous, toxic dynamic between the two children serves a purpose for the narcissist, who has deliberately pitted both children against one another.
The narcissist encourages the golden child to try to gain control over the scapegoat child. The narcissistic parent never intends to encourage love and harmony. Instead, they allow the golden child to abuse the scapegoat, and they don’t bat an eyelid. Its a hate fest, where this dynamic duo attack, and discredit the scapegoated child any chance they get.
The narcissist will share the children’s secrets with each child, paint each child as black behind each other’s backs, and will feign victimhood when the situation explodes, and the children blow up at one another. This friction between the children is just another way of gaining attention from anyone who will listen when the narcissist explains to people how they have these two terrible children who can’t get along. The narcissist will do anything for fuel, and drama. Even if it means triangulating their children.
The golden child at this stage is a fully fledged narcissist. They operated with a false self, and they believe in the illusion – that they truly are grandiose, a hero, and omnipotent. When the scapegoated child challenges the narcissistic illusion, they are pummelled, turned against, lied about, and smashed down by the narcissistic child to the narcissistic parent, who just goes along with it.
The situation by this stage is too far gone, and the relatively good-natured enabling parent can’t get the situation between the two children under control because the narcissist isn’t on the same page as them.
How does the narcissistic child treat their siblings?
The narcissistic child doesn’t love any of their siblings and treats each of them terribly. They will, however, feign kindness towards the sibling or siblings’, that they feel are easier to control, and are more compliant appliances; especially if it serves them in some way.
The golden child will use these children as porns to antagonize the scapegoated child. They will share their lollies with a more compliant child and reject the scapegoat when they ask if they too can have a lolly. They will allow the more compliant child to engage with, or play with them while informing the scapegoat that they are not invited to play. As time goes on, and the scapegoat becomes more difficult to control, the golden child will even try to brainwash the other siblings into believing that the scapegoated child is fundamentally floored and that everybody must exclude them in some way or another.
This behavior worsens in adulthood, and often results in family mobbing. The golden child and narcissistic parent are always the ringleaders in family mobbing against the scapegoat.
The golden child will rage at their siblings, laugh at them in a condescending manner; use them when they please, and reject them if they suddenly need help, support, or empathy.
However, this being said, the more compliant sibling, or siblings, will not endure the harassment that the scapegoated child endures; unless of course, they question the golden child’s control. If the second child is already the scapegoat, the golden child has no need to go after the other siblings’. They already have a punching bag.
The golden child will provoke, and provoke and provoke the scapegoat child into arguments, while never antagonizing the more compliant siblings in such a way. They will pick this child to bits. They will pick at their entire being. When they become upset and react to the abuse, they will be told that they are unhinged, unstable and crazy.
Two sets of rules for golden children and scapegoats
There are two sets of rules for the golden child and the scapegoat child. If this child rages and screams at everyone, the narcissist doesn’t move on in to protect the children from the abuse. Instead, they accept it as the norm. However, if the scapegoat loses it because they can’t tolerate the golden child’s abuse anymore, they will never hear the end of it from the narcissistic parent. They will be told they are neurotic, highly strung, and a bad person; whereas the golden child’s faults will be swept underneath the carpet as though they never happened.
They are all good, and the scapegoat is all bad.
The narcissistic child is groomed to be the narcissist’s soldier
The narcissistic parent doesn’t like anybody. Nobody will ever be good enough, and everybody who comes into contact with the narcissist is a potential scapegoat.
The narcissistic parent literally grooms the golden child into becoming their soldier. The golden child (who will do anything to be accepted in this rejecting narcissistic family system) falls victim to the narcissist’s manipulations, and believes in the narcissist’s lies told continually about potential scapegoats. The golden child is the ultimate ‘bark dog’. This child behaves as though they are at war with everyone.
The narcissistic parent lives through the golden child. They encourage the golden child to trash talk everybody that comes into the room, be on the lookout for potential scapegoats, and to judge people harshly, with no room for error. Other people’s faults become the golden child’s focus, instead of their own.
Judge judge judge.
Often this duo will be a mother and a son, a mother and her daughter, a father, and daughter, or father and son. They are best friends and will conquer the world together. If anyone challenges the system, the golden child is there with the narcissistic parent to organize the smear campaign. Sadly, the object of the smear campaign is often the family scapegoat.
Why does the golden child have it in for the scapegoat to such intensity?
This is about the golden child’s sense of entitlement. The narcissistic parent felt entitled enough to create a mini-me and taught the child early on that they are entitled to exercise complete control over the scapegoat child, and everybody else they come into contact with.
This kind of golden child becomes that narcissistic adult in the room that a lot of us have probably met – the one who must have complete control over the actions, words, thoughts, and beliefs of everybody within their environment. The scapegoat is just meant to sit down and shut-up. The golden child’s sense of entitlement will not allow this child to accept that other people have human rights to a different opinion or different ideas from them.
Pulling the golden child up on their behavior, or disagreeing with their opinion on any given topic is seen by the golden child as severely manipulative behavior by the perpetrator of such an offense (usually the scapegoat).
The narcissistic parent is completely to blame for this over exaggerated sense of grandiosity and entitlement in the golden child because this parent taught the golden child that they have complete control over everybody in their environment. The first victim under the complete control of the golden child was the scapegoat. The narcissistic parent gave the golden child this position of power over the scapegoat and set the golden child up to believe that they will have control over anybody in their space.
What happens to the scapegoat’s relationship with the golden child in adulthood?
The relationship between the scapegoat and the golden child is often so damaged that the scapegoat outwardly resents the golden child. They don’t have a problem challenging the golden child’s false self. They don’t like them, and they aren’t going to hide it, regardless of the repercussions.
This person damaged the scapegoat so badly in childhood that there is no way that the scapegoated child will mirror back to the golden child that they are grand and omnipotent. The scapegoat can’t be controlled. The scapegoat is a continued reminder to the golden child that they are truly an abuser and a dangerous person.
So what does the golden child do? They smash the mirror over and over, with the help of the narcissistic parent, until the scapegoat eventually walks out of the family.
Eventually, many narcissistic golden children ruin the scapegoat’s reputation in adult life and turn their siblings against them, as well as the enabling parent. Rigid, weak enabling family members often just go with it. The scapegoat is often so terribly shamed and humiliated by these people that they are advised by their therapist to leave the entire family.
Does anyone support the scapegoat?
It’s unlikely. There appears to be an inability for the scapegoats’ siblings, even the less narcissistically inclined siblings to empathise with the intensity of the scapegoat’s pain; because if they could empathise at all, they would stand up for their sibling, and actually ask their golden child sibling, or the narcissist, to stop abusing the scapegoat. However, most of the narcissist’s children turn a blind eye, look the other way, and allow for the scapegoated child to get pecked and pecked and pecked, until there is literally no soul left to peck at.
It often becomes a case of ‘well thank goodness it isn’t not me.’
The narcissist convinces the other siblings who fail to support their scapegoated sibling that the scapegoat is unhinged, mentally ill, and needs help with emotional regulation. The golden child also says these vile things about the scapegoat in the hope of escaping all accountability.
The scapegoat’s strength
Scapegoated individuals are strong, often creative, and intelligent. They are often the most empathetic child in the narcissistic family, which is the primary reason why they are so targeted. When they leave the narcissistic family they take these traits with them, grieve the family, heal, and begin traveling the road less traveled by family members in the narcissistic family; the road to recovery.
The scapegoat has integrity. They never back down on this integrity, and they usually go on to have very fulfilling lives. The narcissistic family members either stay united in chaos or turn on each other.
The narcissistic family system is a sick family system which operates with a survival of the fittest mentality. More often than not, the most empathetic child in the family dynamic is plucked out of the coop to be the family scapegoat. The more empathetic, or caring a child is; the more distressed about the situation they are, or the more they remind the narcissist of themselves than the more likely it is that the child will be scapegoated.
Scapegoated children don’t like abusive behaviour – plain and simple. They are black and white in the way they feel about abusive behaviour. In the mind of the scapegoat, a mud pie isn’t a sandwich, and psychologically abusive behaviour cannot be reframed into a mistake that can be forgiven.
The scapegoat is the child who does the unthinkable and disagrees with the narcissist’s opinion – a big no-no in the narcissistic family system. This is the child that will speak up against the ill-treatment of the other siblings, defend the underdog, and will jump in front of the more vulnerable children to keep them safe from verbal or physical abuse. They are justice seekers and fairness warriors.
The scapegoat as a faulty appliance
The narcissist will take great offence to this act of defiance – because in their mind, people are merely appliances and extensions of themselves. Just like a toaster makes toast, (without complaining) the human appliances function is to hold the narcissist in high esteem, relinquish their ability to think freely, as well any hopes for autonomy, want for nothing, and to learn to function robotically without disagreement. The golden child most often operates as the perfect appliance (until of course they decide they will no longer be controlled), whereas the scapegoat does not. The scapegoat is a faulty appliance, and this fault must be fixed.
Conditioned human being appliances are easily programmed, and manipulated – whereas the scapegoat has a mind of their own, and they won’t enable dysfunction.The scapegoat has needs, different opinions from the narcissist – lives from a democratic perspective, and engages the narcissist in discussions about how they would like to be treated, or how they believe others should be treated. The scapegoat, (a small child or innocent teenager) doesn’t realise that by pulling the narcissist up on their vile behaviour, they are actually invoking numerous narcissistic rages within the narcissist. The narcissist is so sensitive, that any slight, no matter how small, will ignite their shame and re-engage them with their true- self; a very broken, ashamed little child.
Instead of being appreciated for being the assertive child that they are, they are instead viewed by the narcissist as an attacker. This child refuses to tell the narcissist what they want to hear. So, the narcissist smashes the mirror and smashes this child’s confidence and self-esteem apart. They are smeared and shamed to the point of no return. After what can sometimes be decades of abuse, the scapegoated child’s reputation is often completely ruined in this family unit, and they never get it back.
What happens if you become upset with the narcissist’s false self?
Narcissists’ cannot tolerate any criticism, do not want to change, and will try and bring down anybody who asks them to make changes. Narcissists cannot change, because they are in fact controlled by a false self (the true self’s damaged inner child’s protector from pain, harm and humiliation). In the mind of the false self, it is you who should change. The false self is not a real person. It refuses to be accountable, refuses to apologise, can’t love truly or deeply, and must have total control over every aspect of every human being within their environment. If anybody upsets, or challenges the false self, (which the scapegoated child does repeatedly) then they become a threat to the narcissist’s delusions. All narcissist’s fear exposure. In my opinion, I believe this is the number one reason why the scapegoat is so abused. Just like the narcissist knows they are a fake, so does the scapegoat child.
A totalitarian cult-like family system
This is a totalitarian cult-like family system. Children who challenge the cult leader’s beliefs will be emotionally pummelled. In this family system, children are not allowed to grow into autonomous, authentic human beings. Their childhood is instead spent keeping the narcissist happy, feeling grand, wonderful, and omnipotent. The child working towards appropriate boundary function within an extremely malignant narcissistic family system will be denounced and viewed as a critical, troubled child.
It becomes a case of the canary in the coal mine syndrome. The scapegoat just will not stop challenging the narcissist’s control, and trying to alert everybody to the façade being accepted by the narcissist’s enablers. This is actually normal behaviour in any healthy family. However, the scapegoat’s tenacity creates major conflict between the narcissist and the scapegoat.
The other children know that it is best to just be quiet. They know that standing up will lead to them being scapegoated – so they very rarely do it. Whereas the scapegoat won’t be quiet about the chronic disrespect that they or the other children receive from the narcissist.
The scapegoat child’s assertiveness
In a healthy family, the scapegoated child’s assertive nature would be encouraged, valued and nurtured. However, in the narcissistic family set up, assertiveness is viewed as a criticism to the narcissist. The narcissistic family set up is not about what is best for the child’s emotional growth. It is instead about what is best for the narcissist’s fragile ego – which is to protect their true self from continuous narcissistic injuries. To do this, the narcissist must have complete control over the appliances in the room. All appliances must relinquish their right to their own sense of self, and become completely enmeshed with the narcissist.
How does the narcissist view the scapegoated child’s continued correction?
The older the scapegoat child becomes, the more autonomous they become. This becomes very problematic for the narcissist, and it is the undoing of the scapegoated child. What the scapegoated child doesn’t realise is that their quest for autonomy is taking place in an environment where human rights and autonomy are not welcome. They don’t know this; they’re just a child.
By the time the scapegoat becomes a teenager, they know are who they are. They are a truth teller, they want their needs met, they care about the people the narcissist is hurting, and they absolutely cannot stand the narcissist’s abusive behaviour. The scapegoated child often unintentionally overcorrects the narcissist on the unfair treatment dished out to them and other family members. They pull the narcissist up on lots of different issues within the family and call a spade a spade. They openly suggest that there is something wrong with the family unit.
As a payback, and to divert from their own behaviour, the narcissist hones in on the scapegoat child’s faults. They critique their every move and excessively judges the scapegoat’s behaviour. They particularly focus on any normal, but negative emotional reactions by the scapegoat. Any healthy anger or discontent shown by the scapegoat is used against them. In overly focusing on the scapegoat, the narcissist shifts the families focus over to the scapegoat. In doing so, the narcissist destroys their teenage child’s reputation and turns the other family members against them.
‘If I can brainwash you, and everybody around you into believing you are bad, you will work even harder to please me; and I will have complete control over you.’
The consequences of asking for accountability
The narcissist is never wrong, and you are at fault for their behaviour towards you. The person questioning the narcissist’s authority is indeed wrong, crazy, neurotic, mad, unhinged for reacting to the narcissist’s abuse, and mentally unwell because they dared expose the narcissist’s floors.
In healthy families, a parent with good self-esteem would be able to apologise and accept wrongdoing. In the narcissistic family, the scapegoat is smeared, and brainwashed into believing they are the problem.
Reactions to the narcissist’s abuse from the scapegoat will be used by the narcissist as an excuse to play the victim, to garner sympathy by the narcissist from onlookers, and to gain excessive amounts of narcissistic supply.
”Oh, look at me, I have such bad children.’
Everything is the scapegoat’s fault
Once the narcissist establishes that the scapegoated child is a threat, the narcissist will begin to blame the scapegoat for all of the problems in the family unit. Not only is the scapegoat blamed for the narcissist’s bad behaviour, but they are also blamed for the other siblings’ bad behaviour. This redirects and deflects blame from the narcissist, or an angry entitled narcissistic golden child, and back onto the scapegoat.
If one child becomes angry about something, this is ok in the narcissist’s eyes. However, if the scapegoat is upset about something – the narcissist will claim that this child has emotional regulation issues, or that they’re like crazy aunty Betty who abused all of her children. There are now two sets of rules, and two sets of standards in the narcissistic household. If the golden child smacks the scapegoat, the narcissist will deem that as acceptable behaviour, and warranted because the scapegoat deserved it. If the scapegoat does the same thing to the golden child in retaliation, they’re crazy, bad, and punished way too harshly.
The children learn from an early age that they can peck at the scapegoat as much as they like, and the narcissist will support them in their relentless behaviour. The narcissist will never intervene and stop the pecking. Instead, when the scapegoat stands up for themselves or asks for validation from the narcissist, they will be told that they are just as much to blame for the abuse hurled upon them.
The other children begin to realise rather quickly that the scapegoat is the fall guy in the family. This paves the way for family mobbing and scapegoating, which often endures well into adulthood, until the day the scapegoat decides to go no contact.
The scapegoat as crazy
Perpetrators always paint a potential threat as crazy. Its how they manipulate the situation in order to deflect and divert from their terrible behaviour. The narcissist is the master of deflection, and blame shifting. From a young age, the scapegoat is trained to look internally at their every fault, to over-correct their own behaviour, to accept that in every given situation they are wrong, crazy, deranged and dysfunctional. This use of mind control and deflection takes the heat off the narcissist, who now has the scapegoat over analysing themselves, and wondering if they truly are crazy.
Scapegoats are trained to believe they are at fault for every single thing that goes wrong in their family. They often live their lives blaming themselves for all of the problems in their interpersonal relationships – and by doing so, allow other people to get away with murder. Hence, why they often end up in abusive relationships and look towards their own reactions to abuse as the problem, not the abuser’s behaviour.
Their ability to assert themselves in adulthood has been crushed in childhood. They no longer have the confidence to assert their rights. Their self-esteem is destroyed, they must not make waves, and they simply lose strength. This perception that they, the scapegoat is crazy and should not ever defend their rights, may sit deeply within themselves for their entire life; or at least until they leave the narcissistic family. They eventually become voiceless in this family unit, and in many other areas of their lives.
However, despite the fact that they are seen by their family as the crazy one, the scapegoat never loses their truth-telling capacity, and when push comes to shove they will fight back.
What I find most interesting about the scapegoat’s role, is the role the other family members play in supporting the narcissist’s lie. It amazes how easily corrupted this family is by the narcissist’s manipulations. All it takes is one person to convey the scapegoat in a bad light, before all of the family members happily get on the bandwagon, take on the narcissist’s perception of the scapegoated child, and make it their own. Scapegoating another human being is the ultimate deflection and distraction from another person’s shortcomings.
The scapegoat: set up to react
In normal households, emotional reactions by a very distressed child to nasty behaviour from an annoying sibling are not deemed as the actions of a crazy person. Instead, healthy parents speak to the provoking sibling about their tendency to provoke and inform them of the consequences of being a stirrer.
The narcissistic family system is topsy-turvy. Provoking behaviour is not seen as the problematic crazy-making behaviour that it truly is – whereas standing up for yourself, or becoming distressed by the narcissist’s crazy making behaviour, is viewed as the behaviour of a troubled person who can’t let things go.
In the narcissistic family, poking at the scapegoat until they explode is a team sport, aided and abetted by the narcissist. The narcissist wants the child to explode. It is a set up to keep them under control, and seen in a poor light as an over-reactive child, with emotional regulation problems. When the child gets upset, the narcissistic parent may tell the child they’re crazy, that they remind the narcissist of a mentally ill family member, or that they need help. The terribly sad reality here is that the child has no idea they are being baited for reactions by the narcissist, all for one reason and one reason only; to enhance the families’ negative perception of the scapegoat.
This behaviour often puts the scapegoat in a position where they feel as though they are constantly in fight mode or even flight mode.
When the scapegoat is doing well and succeeding, the narcissistic parent ups the anti, and antagonises the scapegoat into reacting hysterically even more. This negative fuel that the scapegoat provides the narcissist with, provides all the evidence the family needs to prove that the scapegoat is again, crazy. This doesn’t stop in childhood. The rest of the children cotton on to the reality that they too can rile up the scapegoat, and will often taunt the scapegoat well into adulthood.
In adulthood, family mobbing will prevail, and it is often a narcissistic golden child and narcissistic parent who will encourage the other siblings to reject and ostracise the scapegoat on the premise that they are apparently too volatile.
The narcissistic parent and a narcissistic golden child will continually provoke and provoke and provoke the scapegoat into exploding. Scapegoated children are often told that they are bad, evil, will end up in gaol, and are like terrible inhumane people that the narcissist knows. The whole idea here is to get a reaction out of the scapegoat. The scapegoat reacts with anger and hysteria because they aren’t the person that they are being told they are. However, these reactions to the abuse enhance the other family members negative perception of the scapegoat, and cement in their minds that the scapegoat is unstable.
It amazes me how many enabling parent’s and siblings just go along with, believe in the lie, and have unrealistic expectations of somebody who is being prodded and prodded and prodded to react.
The narcissist uses mind control to brainwash the scapegoat, and all of the scapegoat’s family members into believing that the scapegoat is a highly reactive, mentally deranged, dysfunctional, bad human being. When, in actual fact, the narcissist has set the scapegoat up to fail. This sense of failure continues well into the scapegoat’s adult life when they naturally gravitate towards narcissistic partner’s and friends, who use the same techniques that the narcissistic parent did to scapegoat the family scapegoat.
Where the narcissist goes wrong
The narcissist actually makes a very big mistake in deeming the scapegoat crazy. In the narcissist’s mind they believe that if they shame the scapegoat enough, the scapegoat will stop trying to reach a place of accountability, and accept the scapegoat role given to them (that they are bad). This doesn’t work with all scapegoats.
Usually, the scapegoat is the first family member to enter therapy. This is when the scapegoat will put two and two together, and then the narcissist will begin to unravel. Eventually, the scapegoat sees straight through the abuse, realises that they aren’t the crazy one and that they have been the victim of serious psychological abuse.
The narcissist doesn’t really think through the unconscious decision to scapegoat this child. If you think about logically, it doesn’t make sense to scapegoat a highly empathetic child with a penchant for the truth. One would think that excessively psychologically abusing somebody would eventually lead to the exposure of a narcissist.
The narcissist’s psychological abuse of the scapegoat and the ruining of the scapegoat’s reputation will more often than not lead the scapegoat to expose them. The scapegoat may expose numerous abuses to an enabling parent, the department of community services, the extended family, or the police. Some scapegoats’ expose the abuse to redeem their reputation and to warn others about the danger of the narcissist.
However, once the scapegoat exposes the abuse, the bullying from the narcissist worsens. This is often when family mobbing eventuates. This often results in the scapegoat leaving their entire family behind them and finding a new one, filled with beautiful, emotionally healthy, supportive friends.
”One of the hardest realities to come to terms with for the adult child of a narcissist is that their entire childhood was a lie; and all they were to their parent was narcissistic supply. An object to be toyed with, manipulated, goaded, and provoked.”
The wisdom of fairy tales
I often wonder if the author’s of ‘Snow White,’ ‘Hansel and Gretal’ and ‘Cinderella’ had once been victims’ of narcissism. As children, we are warned through folk tales, and fairy tales alike, about the cruelty of parents. What I have recently come to realise is that the simple children’s fairy tale, is actually many a child’s normal.
I applaud the author of ‘Snow White’ for planting a seed in the minds of our children, and forewarning little children about the cruelty of the world, and the most malignant of hoovers. ‘Hansel and Gretel’ is an eye opener for children with an enabling parent, and ‘Cinderella’s’ story describes a typical narcissistic setup – where siblings sell each other down the river for their narcissistic parent’s approval. Luckily for the reader, all fairytales have a happy ending.
However, for the child of the narcissist, there is no happy ending. Their parent cannot change, and will always play mind games with their child.
The malignant hoover as a unique design – and mental damage to a child’s psyche
A Child of a narcissist does not have the ability to realise that they are being love bombed, idealised, devalued and discarded over and over again. A little child gives their narcissistic parent all of their trust willingly, and with love – only to endure the most horrific psychological abuse one can suffer from. Kids don’t have the ability to comprehend why their narcissistic parent is kind, caring , loving, giving and supportive one minute – only to punish them moments later for reasons which don’t make sense.
Children living out the cycle of idealise, devalue, discard, come out of their childhoods believing that they are inherently bad, and deserve to be punished, discarded, and denounced over and over again. This pattern of abuse most likely will not be understood by the child of a narcissist until adulthood, if they make the choice to go in search of answers. The scapegoat will most likely be the first child to endeavour to look behind their parent’s false self.
The most mistreated child, the scapegoat, will most definitely be the first of the children to put two and two together.
The three stage phase
Common discards for children of narcissists
What does it mean to be hoovered?
The ‘hoover’ is a well- known tactic utilised by the narcissist after they have worked their way through each phase of a three stage process; idealisation, devalue and discard. After the discard stage has been utilised, and the victim retreats, the narcissist will than exercise a hoover of sorts to draw the person back into their life.
Idealisation, devaluation, and the discard are not phases of the three stage process just limited to adults. Small children go through these stages daily, only to be hoovered again shortly after.
Example hoovers for children
Discarding a small child – how is it done?
The narcissistic parent will deploy a number of techniques to distress their small children. Children as young as four will be idealised, devalued and discarded, as well as love bombed, all in a matter of hours.
Scenario: A child decides to go shopping with mummy instead of spending time with daddy and the other siblings. Daddy decides to buy the child that went with him, a toy – and deliberately decides not to buy the other child a toy. When the child comes home, they ask if daddy bought them a toy too. The narcissistic father informs the child that it is in fact their fault that they did not receive a toy, because they refused to spend time with their father.
The child will become momentarily dumbfounded and confused as they blubber away in the corner. However, the confusion will soon subside when the narcissist hoovers the child with a cupcake hours later.
Buying a child’s love
Narcissists’ love to buy children gifts, and to use their artistic talents, and abilities, to love bomb and hoover small children. To receive a gift from a narcissist, a home cooked meal, a batch of cookies, or a hand drawn get well card, signifies to the victim that they they have the narcissist’s approval. Children, in particular begin to think that these manipulative tactics are gestures of love, an apology, and an expression of accountability. The confusion is exhausting for the child, because their narcissistic parent is hot, cold, and calculating. They could lash out and initiate a mentally damaging payback at the smallest slight.
The wisdom of fairytales:
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately (I am yet to come to either conclusion) I now know that fairytales are not tales about fortune; but rather misfortune, and the harsh realities about the cruelty of both parents, and step parents. Fairy tales are confirmation for small children that not all parents can be trusted, and not all parent’s will protect their children from abusive behaviour.
Narcissism brings out the worst in people, and shows the true colours of everybody around the narcissist. Siblings readily sell out the family scapegoat to stay in good rapport with the narcissistic mother or father, or to ensure their human right to a tidy sum once the narcissist dies. Enablers’ often choose the narcissist over the children a million times over; and the list of offences towards good human beings and small children goes on.
Lets take a look at poor Hansel and Gretel, shall we? Hansel and Gretel’s own father took Hansel and Gretel out into the woods, only to discard his children at the step mother’s request. Cinderella’s stepsisters sold her down the river, and triangulated against her time and time again to keep in favour of their vile mother, Cinderella’s stepmother – and Snow White was nearly murdered by her stepmother in the name of jealousy. Fairytales can teach us a lot about narcissism.
Parental alienation is an extreme form of emotional abuse, forcing children to listen to, watch, and engage in, the full-blown mental abuse of the alienated parent. Alienating parents’ deliberately slander, and maliciously put down the alienated parent in an effort to destroy their relationship with the children.
If a child asks the alienating parent to stop denigrating the alienated parent, or outwardly disagrees with what is being said about the other parent, they may be raged at, disagreed with, ignored, or may even have love with-held.
Alienating another parent is a serious form of child abuse; which takes years for the adult children’ of parental alienators’ to work through. These children are lied to daily about the alienated parent, and brainwashed into believing that the alienated parent (usually the nicer parent) is actually abusing the alienating parent.
Why alienate another parent?
In the eyes of the parental alienator there are many benefits to alienating another person. Blaming somebody else for all of the problems within the family, means that the alienator doesn’t need to take responsibility for their own behaviour. By blaming their own behaviour on somebody else, this parent can perpetuate their own victim state as the bullied martyr who has to persist with such a difficult, dysfunctional co-parent.
Severe parental alienators’ want their children to feel sorry for them, because they need the children’s continued support in the fight against the alienated parent.
Alienating another parent means that narcissistic supply is endless, the alienator is guaranteed a life time supply of attention, will always be the person in the room with the most attention, and will forever have a scapegoat.
Over time the children slowly but surely begin to side with the alienating parent. Through the children, ( the alienating parent’s little puppets) this parent will make chaos where once there was none.
Parental alienators’ of the more severe kind are very sensitive individuals. They can’t handle any criticism. Any slight to their ego, and they will pull out of their little bag of tricks, survival skills that small children use to tackle similar situations.
Where and when can parental alienation occur?
Parental alienation can happen in the family home, right in front of the alienated parent, in the family home while the alienated parent is out of sight, in the alienating parent’s home if they are the primary caregiver, or at the alienating parent’s house during weekend visitation.
Parental alienators’ can be of either gender.
Three different types of parental alienators:
Dr Douglous Arnell, in his book, divorce casualties: ‘Protecting your children from parental alienation,’ describes three types of alienators’.
Mild: Naive alienators’ are unaware of what they are doing, and are prepared to change.
Moderate: When triggered, the active alienator loses control of appropriate boundaries, and loses their temper. When they calm down, they don’t want to admit that they were out of control.
Severe: Severe parental alienators’ are committed to destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child.
In the case of the severe parental alienator, no treatment exists, other than removing the child from the alienator’s care.
What is the parental alienator’s motivation?
A typical scenario:
Action: The alienating parent leaves the children unattended in their home for hours at a time. When the alienated parent becomes upset about this reoccuring problem, the parental alienator discusses the alienated parent’s reaction with the children, and uses this reaction to play ‘poor me.’ The parental alienator tells the children that the alienated parent has unfairly attacked them.
During reoccuring conversations with the children about the alienated parent’s behaviour, the alienating parent will always leave out what they have done to illicit such as reaction.
Continued scenarios similar to the above will continue to transpire, which will leave the children upset, confused, and feeling as though they need to resolve the problem for the alienating parent, and to protect this parent from the alienated parent.
What is wrong with the parental alienator?
The narcissistic parental alienator: Narcissists’ are very sensitive people. So sensitive in fact, that the smallest slight against their false self makes them crash, and endure what is known as a narcissistic injury. Narcissists’ split frequently, and see people as either all good or all bad. When a narcissist experiences a breakup with their children’s parent, this parent will immediately fall off their pedestal, and will be perceived as all bad.
The psychopathic parental alienator: The psychopath engages in parental alienation to win. Every situation in the psychopath’s life is about winning. This drive to win means that they consistently put their foot in it. Psychopaths often lose custody of the children for many reasons; not just parental alienation.
Parents’ with personality disorders are extremely sensitive people, and cannot handle any criticism. Criticism to sensitive people feels like a major rejection. Rejection to people with personality disorders, is a fate worse than death. To fight against the rejection, these people usually act with an air of superiority. With this air of superiority they will reject everybody around them with continued put – downs, and arrogant behaviour.
It is not uncommon for an alienator to:
For example: The alienating parent may engage the children in their disagreements with the alienated parent:
‘Look at what your mother does kids. Are you watching her. This is what she always does.’
Parental alienators’ will show the children private emails, and text messages that the alienated parent has written to the alienating parent.
For example: The alienated parent may email the alienating parent (instead of engaging directly due to the drama it causes) to ask if they can return the children’s soccer-boots next time they pick up the children, because without their soccer boots, the children will be unable to play in the next match. The alienating parent may take advantage of this situation, show their children the email, and claim that the alienated parent is bullying them, putting them down, and directly insulting them, again.
Severely disordered alienating parents’ will allow their children to listen to voice messages left for the alienating parent, especially messages which are stern, or show emotion. The alienating parent will pick the alienated parent’s emotions to pieces, and feign victim hood.
For example: If one of the teenage children is bi-sexual, the alienating parent may tell the child that the alienated parent doesn’t agree with their child’s sexual preferences.
The alienating parent will want the children to see them as the fun parent, the joker, and the parent who allows the child to do whatever they like while in the alienating parent’s home.
When with the alienating parent, the children may:
An example of good cop/ bad cop: A teenage child may be disciplined by the alienated parent and given consequences. The teenager goes to their ‘good cop’ parent for support, and confides in them about the incident. Instead of backing the alienated parent, the alienating parent may say something like:
‘You know your mother has anger management issues. You need to learn to ignore her.’
Alienating parents are well known for setting up the alienated parent. They plan these incidents out very carefully, and make sure that their children are there to become a part of the conflict they are about to create.
For example: The alienated parent sends the alienating parent an email highlighting a problem they both need to discuss when appropriate. The alienating parent contacts the alienated parent to discuss the problem. While discussing the topic, and in the middle of what is becoming a small disagreement, one of the children pipes up in the background and accuses the alienated parent of being in the wrong.
The alienating parent deliberately had the children with them when they made the phone call, and kept the phone on speaker so as the children could be witnesses to the discussion, and see for themselves how difficult the alienating parent is.
The severe parental alienator either lies outright to the children, or only tells half truths.
For example: If the alienated parent puts up a boundary because of the alienating parent’s inappropriate behaviour, than the boundary is spoken about to the children by the alienating parent; not the behaviour that lead to the boundary.
Example: The alienated parent may decide that they can no longer invite the alienating parent to anymore of the children’s birthday parties because the parent continues to belittle the alienated parent to the guests’ at the party.
The alienated parent uses this new boundary as an opportunity to play the victim, and to become outraged by the alienated parent’s treatment of them.
However, not once throughout this entire scenario has the alienating parent told the children what they did to contribute to the alienated parent’s decision.
If the alienated parent shouts at their child, the alienating parent paints the parent to be someone with anger – management problems, and behavioural issues.
If the alienated parent becomes upset with their child, the alienating parent will tell the child that it is not okay for their parent to be upset with them, to snap at them, or to speak to them in any way that makes the child feel uncomfortable.
Speaks negatively of the fun activities the children engage in with alienated parent:
The alienating parent may say things like:
‘Be careful while camping. I’ve heard that there are a lot of snakes out at this time of year.’
‘Why do you have to go so far away? I worry about you when you go on such long trips with daddy. You know he can’t drive for long without getting tired.’
Why has the alienator become this way?
Creation of a little soldier:
Common behaviours in children which signal they have been turned against the other parent:
What happens if the children expose the alienating parent?
If the children expose the alienating parent, this parent will deny the accusations, feign victimhood, and claim that the children are now turning against them as well.