Part I: Voice Dialogue and Healing the Inner Scapegoat – A Transpersonal Perspective

“For years it lay in an iron box buried so deep inside me that I was never sure just what it was. I knew it carried slippery, combustible things more secret than sex and more dangerous than any shadow or ghost. … I saw things I knew no little girl should see. Blood and shattered glass. Piles of skeletons and blackened barbed wire with bits of flesh stuck to it…The iron box contained a special room for my mother and father, warm and moist as a greenhouse. They lived there inside me, rare and separate from other beings. … I knew my parents had crossed over a chasm … The box became a vault, collecting in darkness, always collecting; pictures, words, my parent’s glances, becoming loaded with weight. It sank deeper as I grew older, so packed with undigested things that finally it became impossible to ignore.”
-Helen Epstein, Children of the Holocaust

Helen Epstein was the scapegoat, the sacrificial lamb of her family. She collected her parents’ “undigested things” and tried, from childhood, to protect her parents in a “warm and moist…greenhouse” within herself. Helen is “identified with the scapegoat archetype”.[1] Not only did she absorb some of her parents’ deeply buried emotions, trauma, and pain from their experiences during the Holocaust; her parents unconsciously allowed this transfer of shadow energy to take place. In Helen’s case, her parents did not overtly blame Helen for their unfelt pain. However perhaps they, like so many survivors of the Holocaust, could not bear the light and life-force their daughter embodied. Possibly it reminded the parents of the life they had with family and community prior to the War; or perhaps they saw themselves in Helen as they might have been. Perhaps they did, indeed, perceive that Helen was, by comparison, the cause of their bleak, soul-dead live.

The parents did not have the ability to process the effects and the brutal truth of the Holocaust. This material did not disappear as the parents disowned/repressed it and “moved on” – some of it travelled through a mysterious route into their daughter.

It is important to consider that the material in the “box” is real energy. Helen is burdened with very dark and heavy force that impacts her life in unfathomable ways. The box is in the territory Jung called the Shadow – that which we do not or will not know about ourselves.

This process of transferring shadow energy has occurred throughout time. It comes with the archetypal principle that life can only be born of another life which is sacrificed. The deadly, if unconscious collusion between Helen and her parents lived out this principle. Perhaps if their daughter was sacrificed (took their darkness and held it in a frozen pool within herself) life would return to where it had been exterminated. Helen’s life was overwhelmed by the responsibility for her parents’ safety from further harm, and their rebirth. Her inner world became “so packed with undigested things that finally it became impossible to ignore.”

For the scapegoat-identified person, this is a moment of awakening. There dawns a realization that something is terribly wrong and it must be faced. This grim, grave sense of burden must be understood, sorted, cleansed and somehow discharged. This article begins to address how Voice Dialogue aids in this sorting, cleansing and healing process.

In one article, it is impossible to cover but a few examples of how Voice Dialogue can be used to address and change this adamant commitment to take on others’ shadow material. The process unfolds organically between the facilitator and the client, over time.

Voice Dialogue is based on the premise that we are all made up of many distinct Inner Selves or sub-personalities. We identify with some (Primary Selves) and reject or repress their opposites (Disowned). Using Voice Dialogue the client embarks on a journey of self discovery and enters into direct communication with the Primary and Disowned Inner Selves that are heavily involved in this very challenging life issue. In Helen’s case, the box in which she holds her parents’ repressed, unacceptable material is in Helen’s Shadow (the Disowned territory).

This approach to the psyche is extremely helpful with the Scapegoat Complex, as there are several different, yet intertwined Inner Selves involved. Sorting and understanding these Inner Selves are the first orders of business with Voice Dialogue. Some of the Inner Selves to be met and understood are:

  1. The Savior/Healer – the Shadow-Carrier – believes that it is his/her destiny to save others by sacrificing him/herself.
  2. The Alienated/Rejected Self – cast out by the family or community; lives on the outskirts of the collective (the desert).
  3. Guilty/Wrong/Victim – identifies with the dark material that is disowned by others; feels she is unworthy, responsible for the ailments of others, and deserving of a profound sense that she will never fit in. This Self sees others as good and itself as bad. This young, sensitive Self believes that she is the source of the hidden pain and darkness; thus, she carries a profound primal guilt for being.
  4. Inner Critic – condemns the Shadow-Carrier from within; supports and causes the incessant feelings of shame, self-blame and alienation.
  5. Judgmental Self – this is a compensatory Inner Self that harshly judges others to avoid the unbearable inner feelings of guilt for being fundamentally bad or wrong. This Self can come across as superior and self-righteous.

Let us use “Helen” as a composite of my clients discovered to be identified with the scapegoat/savior archetype; and anxious to understand the dynamic, be relieved of their many symptoms, and experience other than their bleak view of life.

Helen comes to counseling with a list of complaints: she is depressed, has no energy, has migraine headaches, finds no meaning or enjoyment in life, has a hard time sustaining a successful long-term relationship, and she feels isolated and lonely. In the first session we map Helen’s inner world and name some of the Primary Selves with which she has identified most of her life.

During this engaging, in-depth interview, we discover that Helen is hugely identified with the Good Daughter/Caretaker Self, which quickly evolved into the Savior/Healer Self. In the second session I ask to speak with the Savior Self. Helen moves to another seat in my office. This physical shift helps her discern (sort) one Self from another, and experience the unique energetic or kinesthetic/visceral feeling of each sub-personality. My job as the facilitator is to hold a safe, respectful and non-judgmental space in which each Inner Self can emerge and have its authentic voice.

During a detailed dialogue the essence of this Scapegoat Self emerges:

  1. “I came into this life with a mission. I have a gift; I believe I can heal people.
  2. When Helen was a baby (in Voice Dialogue the different Inner Selves use the third person when referring to Helen. This helps Helen name and separate from each of them) she felt the sadness and pain in her parents. They could not take care of Helen. So I took as much of their pain as I could.
  3. I don’t know how I knew to do this, I just did. I pulled their grief, pain, and numbness within Helen’s body to: 1) heal them as a part of my purpose, and 2) to help them feel better so they could focus on Helen and love her more.”
  4. It is our lot to feel sick, fatigued and burdened; in fact, it is proof of our commitment to serve; that this is our destiny.
  5. I believe I can process that pain and magically transform it so it disperses into spiritual realms.
  6. If I don’t do my job Helen will have no grand purpose. She will be like all the others who live lives of mediocrity and no grand contribution to individuals and society.”

The Savior/Healer is asked, “How does Helen experience you in the body? What is your energy like?” The Savior’s energy feels diffuse, open with no boundaries; it extends from Helen’s body out toward other people. Its focus is on others – their feelings and needs, and how those needs can be met.

Helen then moves to a Center position. We call this the Aware Ego Process. In this position, it is my responsibility to teach Helen how to physically and energetically separate from the Primary Savior/Healer. For the first time Helen has the epiphany that she isn’t the Healer/Shadow-Carrier. Rather she has a big part of her that is the Savior/Healer and its job is to absorb others’ shadow material. She feels very different as she separates from the Healer Self. She feels clearer, more contained and much lighter.

From this larger, more objective perspective of the Aware Ego, Helen appreciates what the Savior/Healer/Caretaker Self has tried to do for her and others. It literally helped Helen survive childhood by taking care of her parents, giving them her life force, and absorbing their unacceptable trauma so they wouldn’t sink completely into the despair they could not or would not confront. However, the Aware Ego can also see that the Shadow Carrier’s actions and underlying assumptions (that one must absorb others’ pain in order to have life purpose or meaning) may no longer be appropriate or even true, given current circumstances. In order to have options about whether, or how, to help others; and how to help her, Helen needs to meet another Inner Self – the Opposite of the Savior/Scapegoat.

Helen shifts her seat to the other side of the Center. After a few moments, another very different Energy or Inner Aspect comes forth to talk.

  1. “I haven’t been around much at all. Helen thought the only way she would survive or be liked or loved was to give everything away and take everything on. I don’t do either.
  2. I don’t think I am responsible for anyone else’s life. They are.
  3. I’m not here to heal others; healing Helen is enough work for me.
  4. I don’t live by what others think of me.
  5. I don’t have to please and take care of others to get love or respect.
  6. If we are hurt, disrespected or dismissed, or if we are always in the giving position, I simply don’t put up with it.
  7. If she would just let me out I would change her life. She would have tons more energy and she could live the life we were meant to live.
  8. I can stand up to people and say, ‘NO!'”
  9. I am the part of her who asks, “What about me? When is it my turn?”

This Inner Self feels entirely different to Helen than the Savior.  In childhood this Self was called “Selfish” and “Uncaring”, which is another reason Helen disowned it. This is actually a more Self-Focused, Self-Aware, Self-Concerned aspect. Instead of feeling open and dispersed, it feels contained and strong. Rather than reaching out to others, this energy comes into Helen and becomes aware of what Helen is thinking, feeling, sensing.

Again, after an informative and enlightening discussion with “Selfish, Self-Caring, Boundary Setter” we return to the Center position – the Aware Ego. Helen (we call this Center perspective Helen) then separates consciously from “Selfish”, feels in the body what it is like to be neither the Savior, nor Self-Caring. This is an experience of being detached yet genuinely appreciative of both. It takes a lot of practice – to stand in between totally different Selves – to “sweat the tension of the opposites”. The Aware Ego Process provides Helen a much larger, more objective, non-judgmental perspective that includes the opposites without having to be identified as only one or the other.

This process of dis-identifying from the Savior/Healer is a huge first step in the healing of the Scapegoat Complex. The more Helen realizes that she has been the Savior Self, and that now she has a powerful Scapegoat Self within her; the more she experiences the option of moderating that powerful aspect and choosing more of the opposite Self-Caring part. She is freer. Helen comes to understand that it is a life practice to separate from both the Primary and Disowned Inner Selves and manage/modulate them in ways that are appropriate and more effective in life. As she practices her skill will grow and the Self-Caring part that can set boundaries and make decisions that are in Helen’s best interest will grow.

After a few sessions, when Helen’s protective parts feel safe with me as a facilitator, we find our way to Helen’s Vulnerable Child. This very young, sensitive, essential part of Helen was buried deep in the psyche in order to protect her and Helen from feeling too much of her own and others’ pain.

In Voice Dialogue we let the Inner Self find its own place in the room from which to talk. Helen’s Vulnerable Child crawls behind the chair and peers out cautiously, eyes wide open. As the facilitator, this is when I have to have access to my own vulnerability. This connects with Helen’s Child and lets her know that it is safe and that I know what it is to be very sensitive; to be afraid, confused and alone. Here is the essence of what this beautiful, poignant aspect has to say to Helen:

  1. “I love Mother and Father and I don’t want them to be sad.
  2. I carry their pain.
  3. The other one (Savior) pulls it in, but it comes into me.
  4. I feel heavy and dark; sometimes I cannot move.
  5. Sometimes I am a baby and sometimes I am two or three years old.
  6. When Helen was little they told me that I was bad and that whatever they did to me was my fault. They hurt me.
  7. I am bad.
  8. They don’t want me to be here. They push me into my cave. I am cold.
  9. I am connected to Helen’s body. But I am hidden.
  10. I am so tired. I don’t know what to do with the hurt and fear and pain I feel.
  11. Nobody helps me. I am so alone and it is cold here.”

In Helen’s case, it is fascinating to discover that not only is there the Savior/Healer Self; but there is the Vulnerable Child in the depths of the Shadow who actually receives the dark matter from others and holds it for Helen. The Inner Child loves the parents, but she also loves Helen and feels it is her purpose to hold the stuffed, heavy box so Helen can survive and grow up.

Just as those who are scapegoated by their families or the groups with which they associate, this exquisitely sensitive, loving Child becomes the Inner Scapegoat. She is attacked from within and shamed for being “the problem.” Other Inner Selves feel that if this Vulnerable Child, who feels everything and holds a pool of darkness, would just go away (exiled into the wilderness), Helen would be okay. She would not be depressed. She would be lighter and happier. She would finally “get over it!” The Child is the rejected Victim who takes responsibility not only for others’ shadow material, but also for Helen’s. She identifies with the very material she holds; she feels she is a repulsive, fatally flawed thing that is evil and deserves her dark imprisonment. This conversation is truly poignant and painful for the Child, for Helen (who is always listening and feeling the Self that is talking), and for me, the facilitator. It is here that Helen, the Aware Ego Process that is always listening and experiencing the energies of the Self, begins to understand why she feels so depressed, hopeless, and isolated. And she now understands that her deep feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem do, indeed, come from a subterranean, previously unknown place within her psyche.

In the conversation with the Victim/Inner Scapegoat Child (which takes several sessions), unlike with most Inner Selves, I take a more active role. This is the point in the process that directly addresses what Sylvia Brinton Perera brilliantly introduced in her seminal work, “The Scapegoat Complex”: We have lost the transpersonal or sacred understanding of the Scapegoat’s historical and archetypal role. In the ancient sacrificial rituals, the scapegoat was considered a divine creature, a healing agent. The dark, unacceptable behaviors, the illnesses, the sins of the collective were, indeed, placed on the back of the sacred goat. But the goat was not blamed for, or considered the source of this disowned energy. The goat had a sacred mission: take the unacceptable matter into the desert, the wilderness (outside human consciousness) where it will be delivered to God. It was only in these transpersonal dimensions that this shadow energy could be transmuted or transformed.

In addition to removing the disowned elements of the community, the scapegoat served as a conduit – returning the spiritual or transpersonal dimensions to the people. They experienced a higher consciousness – and felt peace and At-One with God.

This vital, sacred aspect of the archetypal scapegoat and its purpose in the collective has been lost in today’s world. There are no sacred rituals by which individuals and the collective can consciously process their dark psycho-emotional material and then pass it, through the conduit of a divine scapegoat, to higher, spiritual dimensions.

Today, the scapegoat is seen as the problem, it is seen as the carrier of those traits and characteristics that are unacceptable and out of alignment with the collective ideal. Those disowned traits and attributes are, instead projected onto the scapegoat who is seen as the cause of the others’ discomfort, illness, lack – and punished for this.

Helen, my client is discovering that she was perceived as the cause of the parents’ deep discomfort and unconscious pain. There was a projection of their disowned darkness onto their daughter, without them accepting the material as theirs. Helen, being identified with the Scapegoat archetype, was the shadow carrier but without any acknowledgment of her sacred role.

When the Inner Scapegoat Child feels safe with me and has expressed herself, I tell her the story of the ancient rituals of the scapegoat in human communities. I gently explain that those, like her, were appreciated as connected to God and for their role in healing the family or group. I tell her that the scapegoat on the altar was ordained a divine being, and was called “the strong one of God.” In my experience, this is an awakening moment for the Child. She has never felt acknowledged, loved, seen for the magnificent, profoundly loving being she is, or for the immense task she has courageously attempted to perform. It was certainly never acknowledged that she had a special connection to God, although she could have told you that.

Helen’s Vulnerable Child looks at me with a more open, less terrified, and more curious expression. I tell her that, indeed, she arrived with a special gift. She could feel others’ pain. And she (with the Savior/Scapegoat) could absorb some of their pain and sadness; however there was a big misunderstanding. “What was it?” the Child asks. “Well, although you could take a little bit of the pain from your parents, you were never meant to take on very much at all. In fact, no human being can handle anywhere near the amount of others’ sadness and hurt that you have tried to hold for them and for Helen.

So, you are a very special and loving Child and you do have a gift of helping others heal, but you misunderstood that the way to heal them was not to do their work for them. People are supposed to feel their own pain and work it through themselves. Then they can find an access to God, like the scapegoat in old times, and turn the stuff over to God. But you are not to be that kind of scapegoat. You and Helen will find your new path to discover how to heal people by helping them heal themselves.

Now, you are to be free from that burden – free to be a Child and to be loved as you always should have been. My job is to help Helen learn how to love you, protect you from taking on ANY MORE PAIN FROM OTHERS, and to find ways to take away the collected sadness, fear, and pain from others that pulls you down and buries you in the darkness.”

I inform the child that Helen will be sending some other inner people to her to love her and protect her and that she should not be afraid of them; they are not going to hurt her in any way. This is to prepare her for the processes to follow.

Again, after thanking the Vulnerable/Victim Child, the Inner Scapegoat, we go the Aware Ego Process (the Center). The Aware Ego separates from the Child – feels compassion and appreciation for this highly sensitive, indeed soul connected part in her psyche; yet she is not attached to it. She can feel the Child inside, yet she is not overwhelmed by the feelings. The Aware Ego is not the pain or accumulated trauma held within the Child. This large processing consciousness (the Aware Ego) knows that for her overall health and well-being, she has to, in some way, tend to the Child, prevent her from absorbing any additional shadow energy, and relieve her of the existing shadow burden.

The next processes are integral to this healing process, which are transpersonal in nature. These processes acknowledge that to the psyche imagination, visualization and energy are as real as actions taken in the outer world; and have profound and lasting impact. These processes are taught to the client and the client practices them on a daily basis – just as they might practice regular meditation.

The first order of business is to give the Child what she never had – unconditional love. Before we talk with Helen’s Inner Nurturer, we speak with the more Primary Self that doesn’t like the Child and helps keep it buried in its cold coffin within. This is one of a collective of Helen’s Inner Selves that feels the Child is the source of Helen’s difficulties in life. This Critic is very harsh in its judgment of the Inner Scapegoat and is very clear, “I wish we could just get rid of her! Everything would feel so much better without her and Helen wouldn’t feel so bad.” We thank the Inner Critic (after a thorough interview) and ask to speak with the opposite energy.

Helen’s Inner Nurturer appears. This is the part that absolutely knows how to love a child unconditionally. When the Nurturer is clearly present I ask him/her to describe what a child feels in his/her arms. The answer is usually: safe, peaceful, loved, seen, etc. I ask the Nurturer to feel this energy – the love within which the child rests. Then I ask the Nurturer to do the following internal process:

  1. Go inside and locate the Vulnerable Child. Be aware of where she is. What is the space like? Dark? Light? Cold? Warm? What is the Child wearing? What does her body look like? Is she alone? About how old is she?
  2. Don’t go close to the Child. Stand on the periphery of the scene. Lovingly tell the Child: “Helen has sent me to be with you. I am here to love you. You don’t have to do anything to deserve this love. You have always deserved love. You don’t have to move or look at me or change or anything. I am going to love you no matter what. I will not come any closer unless you want me to.”
  3. Open at the crown chakra and allow divine love to flow gently from the “Universe, God, Spirit” (whatever Helen relates to) into you. This is like a very gentle shower of light coming into you and flowing through your human heart to the Child. This energy of love is both divine and human. The stream of love is like the softest breeze gently flowing to, and surrounding the body of the Child. This is a one-way stream of love from the Universe, through your heart, to the Child. It is never-ending. It is this love – this gentle energy – that informs the Child who you are and, over time, helps heal the Child.
  4. Your job is to do this. To be with the Child, channel the love, and allow the Child to decide when to be closer to you. If the Child wants to be held, you hold the child. If the Child wants to sit next to you, that is perfect. The Child takes the lead. The Child learns that the focus is on her. The Child has no responsibility to take care of you; your job is to take care of the Child.
  5. When the Child feels safe and loved with you (which may take some time), ask the Child, “If you could go to a beautiful place that was totally safe, where might that be?” Have the Child describe this place in some detail. When the Child is ready to leave the place within which she has been hidden, take the Child to this “safe place”.
  6. As we return to Helen’s Aware Ego, please stay inside with the Child, in the safe place, channeling the love.

Helen returns as the Aware Ego Process. This separation, again, is a key to the healing of the Scapegoat phenomenon. As long as she IS the one who keeps her parents’ torments in the iron box within her, she will never be free to live her own life, express her true nature, or insist that her own needs and desires be met. As long as she is the Inner Critic who attacks the Child for being the reason Helen is unhappy, the tormented Child continues to feel she IS the cause and the flawed one in the inner and outer families. As long as the Inner Nurturer remains hidden in the Disowned territory, Helen has little option but continue the vicious cycle of criticism and judgment within.

However, as Helen learns to conduct and manage the inner world; as she sends the Nurturer to the Child, she begins to feel less depressed, less isolated and less rejected.

The healing of the Vulnerable Child involves several steps. The first, above, involves providing the Child with what she rarely, if ever, had – unconditional love. Over time, she learns to trust this love, which is from a conscious nurturing source, and she can finally rest into another (which, in fact is Helen.) This does not mean, however, that the Child stops absorbing the darkness that is pulled in from the environment. The next process addresses this essential element.

I ask to speak with Helen’s Mystical Warrior the part of her who knows about energy. Many clients are unsure of who this is within them. However, when we move to this position, most find that they locate a wise aspect that is knowledgeable of energy and its use. This Inner Self ties in with an archetype that has come down through ages: Shaman, Teacher, Energy Worker, Samurai, etc. We all have elements of each of the archetypes within us.  Helen taps into her Mystical Warrior and a very strong, present, wise Inner Self comes forth.

  1. “Helen has not used me in her life.
  2. She was not able or allowed to establish boundaries of any kind.
  3. I am one who can work with the energy field in and around Helen, and protect her and her Wounded Child from further harm.”

Helen’s Energy Master works on generating a protective shield of energy around both Helen’s body and around the Inner Child. Often this is a cobalt blue, shimmering field of energy, with an impenetrable shell that surrounds the actual electro-magnetic field of energy that all humans generate. Kirlian photography often shows this energy in the form of an egg around the body – it goes from about one foot above the head, arms length around the body into the earth about three feet. This Dialogue occurs with the assumption that Helen has within her an intuitive wisdom about energy, and about using her imagination and intention to generate a real, viable field of protection for herself and for her Vulnerable Child within. Many people use Voice Dialogue as an energy practice; and many add martial arts to support their capabilities in this vital area of life.

Helen begins to understand and experience that she has been wide open in the world (and certainly in her family); her energy field has always extended outward leaving her vulnerable to pick up other’s disowned psycho-emotional material. She has also been unprotected from other’s judgment and criticism. Voice Dialogue helps Helen learn the vital lessons of building strong energetic boundaries and being conscious of when it is appropriate to open her field and with whom is it safe to be linked energetically.

There are many more steps and much vast terrain to explore along the path to healing the Scapegoat identified client. With the Inner Scapegoat being loved and nurtured, and being protected with energetic and verbal boundaries, the next step is to relieve her of the well of shadow energy she has held all of Helen’s life.

How does one alleviate and discharge pain of such magnitude? There are several important steps toward such liberation. What follows is a brief description of some of these important processes. In the fourth article in this series, these practices will be described at length.

  1. Using Voice Dialogue to access the scapegoated Child, she is gently and safely allowed to speak and feel the truth, the brutal truth of what happened to her in childhood, including feeling the impact on her of absorbing the pain of others. This is not a onetime incident. I wholeheartedly agree with Alice Miller, “Though repression may have been necessary for the child’s survival – otherwise she might literally have died from the pain – maintaining repression in adult life inevitably has destructive consequences.”3
  2. Voice Dialogue is used to access and have further dialogue with the Inner Critic, the main source of internal attack upon the Child. During this interaction, the client develops understanding of the Critic’s rage and anxiety. It is the Aware Ego Process that has the authority, as it develops, to intervene between the Critic and the Abused Child. This, again, is a process that takes time and devoted practice on the part of the client.
  3. Using both Voice Dialogue and the transpersonal view of the soul, we create an avenue by which the dark material of another is returned to its source. This process will be described in detail in the next article. This is an extremely powerful ritual that has proved successful at releasing the scapegoat of much imbedded psychic material – and simultaneously healing some of the deepest, unresolved traumas with those directly responsible.

At its essence, Voice Dialogue is about the mastery of energy. As Helen, from the Aware Ego position, separates from the Primary Inner Selves that have maintained the status quo of her identity as the Scapegoat, and discovered and strengthened her Disowned Selves on the other side of the spectrum – her options in life expand exponentially. She learns to conduct the Inner Selves in such a way that she is protected from absorbing any additional shadow energy; she sets firm boundaries with those who wish to continue to blame her for their ills and actively scapegoat and repel her from the collective. She simultaneously learns to love the Vulnerable Shadow-Carrier, protect her from outer and inner abuse, and she learns how to discharge the overwhelming dark energies with which the Child has been burdened forever. As she masters these inner and outer ways of being, Helen begins to feel her life force grow, her self-esteem strengthen, and her self-empowerment thrive. She discovers and asserts for her own needs and desires. She begins to nurture her gifts and talents and pursue her dreams. Life returns. Hope returns. Energy and vitality return.

With deep appreciation of the healing skills she came in with, and that have been highly developed through her scapegoat journey, Helen decides she wants to be a healer, therapist, coach. She wants to support others and guide them through the muddy, dark terrain we all find ourselves in at times in our lives. She knows, however, that she will help others by providing them with the tools and wisdom to heal them and take full responsibility for transforming the profound material hidden in their Shadow. She will not allow her Inner Scapegoat to take on the shadow of others; however she will guide them into the Shadow and help them bring consciousness to their hidden energy, talents, and skills to be used effectively in life.

In the fourth article to follow, these vital steps in the process of healing the Scapegoat Complex will be discussed and demonstrated through client sessions.


1 Epstein, Helen, Children of the Holocaust: Conversations with Sons and Daughters of Survivors, GP Putnam’s Sons, NYC, 1979, pp 9-13.

2 Brinton Perera, Sylvia, The Scapegoat Complex: Toward a Mythology of Shadow and Guilt, Inner City Books, Toronto, pg 15.

3 Miller, Alice, Breaking Down the Wall of Silence: the Liberating Experience of Facing Painful Truth, Basic Books, Philadelphia, pg. 8

©Copyright 2010 by Francesca Starr, MA, LPC, BCPC. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to The following article was solely written and edited by the author named above. The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the following article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment to this blog entry.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Lewis Henry

    October 29th, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Although it is easy to actually lean on someone particular in a family I find it a bit weird that some parents actually end up leaning on their children who are obviously much younger and much less mature mentally.

    We often see that adults provide a shoulder to lean on for the kids but when the opposite happens I find it very weird.

  • Francesca Starr

    October 29th, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Thank you for your comment Lewis. It is “weird” when roles are reversed in families. It is also, unfortunately, a rather common phenomenon. Let’s look at a young mother, who has many troubles on her mind, hasn’t learned much about herself really, and perhaps wasn’t loved very much in her childhood. When this mother holds her child, without knowing it, she actually looks at the child with a need for the child to love her. Children come into life with an uncanny ability to love. When a baby feels, sees, senses the need in her/his mother, it is easy for this child to send love toward the mother. Now, it isn’t that this child wouldn’t love his/her mother anyway; of course he/she would. But, the flow of love from the beginning of a child’s life is meant to be from the mother to the child, with the child opening to the love and receiving it. This is how a child learns that he/she is welcome, belongs, is safe, and can rest into the love and arms of the adults around him/her. This is how a core sense of self develops.

    If this young, well-meaning mother continues to look to her child for the love she never got, the child will quickly learn that his/her job is to help the mother feel better about herself. This is also a set up for the beginning of the scapegoat process. The child not only feeds the mother love, but takes on some of the mother’s unconscious pain. This is done out of love, and out of a deep need on the part of the child to have a healthier, more present mother take care of him/her. Sometimes it works – the mother is alleviated a bit of her deeper feelings, and she sees that she is a good mother because her baby is so good and so loving; then she might, indeed, perform her tasks as mother more effectively. But there is a mighty price to pay. The child is already developing the personality structure committed to taking care of others, rather than being in touch with himself and operating in life from his/her own center rather than from the center in another.

    Just a few additional thoughts to ponder…

    Francesca Starr

  • Pamela E Vance

    February 3rd, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    This article about the scapegoat is the story of my whole entire life. I not only understand every word it is saying; what it has said has literally transformed my whole entire life. I have always carried and understood the meaning and message that this article portrays within my heart and I want to listen to it; get healed; and help others. I could write a book on demand about this subject in a matter of minutes; I am pregnant with all of this knowledge that I want to share with the world. That you for introducing me to myself.

  • Pamela E Vance

    February 3rd, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    I misspelled it in the first post. Thank You!!!!!!

  • Maggie

    August 23rd, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I’m looking forward to part 2! It’s wonderful to feel known. I hove hodge-podged many of the healing exercises in my own fashion and at 37 finally feel empowered and free. I wish when I had started on my odessy at 19 that I had actually known how to give up the pain of my family to the Gods and moved on! But I didn’t and because there wasn’t any physical abuse, I found it difficult to explain the inner strife I was experiencing. It wasn’t really until last week that I saw and understood objectively that their poor treatment of me is a nothing more than an unconscious tick that they themselves are not even aware of. Much as I was compelled to manifest their shadows, they are still compelled to project theirs onto me – and now my son. I’ll burn in hell before I let them interfere with my son! Thank you again, and I am looking forward to the next post! MagPie

  • Rachel

    August 21st, 2017 at 7:08 AM

    Thank you for this extraordinary article. It combines so much theory, so much heart and so much truth, it’s astounding! Like many people commenting, yes, this is my journey too. Right down to the part about then training to be a counsellor so that others can free themselves too. Thank you so much for this incredible understanding and explanation. xxxx <3

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