This is the fourth in a series of articles on the Scapegoat and how Voice Dialogue can help heal this ancient phenomenon that continues to occur within all human communities and within certain sensitive and susceptible individuals. The first two articles explored the Shadow, the phenomenon called projection, and the history of the Scapegoat in human communities. The third article begins the sorting and healing process through Voice Dialogue sessions with a composite client named Helen. See the first three articles here.
In the first three articles of this series we discussed the Shadow or Disowned Territory in the psyche, the historical Scapegoat and its impact on the human community, and the development of the Inner Scapegoat. We entered into a Voice Dialogue process with a composite client named Helen to support a sorting, clarifying, healing, and discharging process to transform the “Scapegoat Complex.” In this final article we continue the sessions with Helen, our Scapegoat-Identified client.
Voice Dialogue, based on the premise that we are all made up of many parts, or sub-personalities, safely accesses both the highly developed, or Primary Inner Selves, and those that carry the opposite qualities – the Disowned Selves. If you are identified with being a kind person who must please others, the chances are you have repressed or disowned the part of you that is more selfish and can say, “No” when necessary to take care of yourself. Through this structured and fascinating dialogue process each Inner Self is given a voice. In Voice Dialogue we respect and appreciate every Inner Self, or energy pattern; no Self is asked to change its essential nature; and we do not get rid of or expel any Inner Self. When the inner world recognizes that no one’s “life” is in danger, a relaxation occurs and the best of each Self becomes more accessible. In the Voice Dialogue process a conductor or conscious choice-maker, the Aware Ego Process is developed and strengthened. This manager/conductor relates to, and respects both the Primary and Disowned Selves, yet is not identified with or attached to either. This Aware Ego learns to “sweat the tension of the opposites”, and discerns which Inner Self, or how much of the energy of the each Self would be the most effective and authentic to respond to any life circumstance or challenge. Rather than the Inner Selves negotiating with, or fighting each other for survival and control; the Aware Ego develops a relationship with each Self and uses all of them at different moments.
In the last article we met the Inner Savior and its opposite – the Boundary Setter/Self-Caring Self; the Vulnerable/Shadow Carrier Inner Child, the Inner Nurturer; and the Mystical Warrior. Helen was developing an Aware Ego Process in relationship to these important Inner Selves and was beginning to manage and modulate them consciously to support her dis-identification from the Scapegoat archetype, and the healing of the Inner Scapegoat.
Helen is learning how to protect the Inner Child taking on others’ stuff; however she is still burdened by the shadow energy she absorbed from Helen’s childhood and beyond. This depressing darkness must be discharged or cleansed from Helen’s Child territory and from her body in which the material is lodged. An integral part of creating the safety, in which these processes may occur, is to understand and handle the Inner Critic.
Through her life of being Scapegoat-Identified, Helen has developed many nearly debilitating symptoms including migraine headaches, depression, isolation, and low self-esteem. There has developed an internal dynamic that reflects her external life. It is thought by many of Helen’s Inner Selves that Helen would be much better off without the Child. The Child is blamed for being weak, for being the victim, for pulling everyone down with the sheer weight of the shadow energy she contains, and thus for causing the symptoms from which Helen suffers. In order to keep the Child deeply buried and hidden from Helen’s life, the Inner Critic (originally born to protect this Child) turns against the Child and rages at her from within. It is through Voice Dialogue that Helen learns what to do about this damaging situation.
As Helen physically moves to another location in the room we meet her Critic, which comes raging forth like a lion just released from years in a cage. During this important dialogue the facilitator must be very centered and grounded – and model the Aware Ego Process for the client. The calm, yet empowered Aware Ego meets the Critic energetically, does not judge the Critic, and is genuinely interested in what the Critic has to say.
The Critic is asked about the little Child. The Critic becomes incensed, “If it were up to me, I’d kill her. Without her pulling us down, Helen might get it together to really succeed in the world and be normal like other people. I scream at that sniveling little brat and tell her to go away!”
The observing Helen begins to experience that the Critic’s blame and even hatred for the Shadow-Carrier Child amounts to internal Child abuse. This vicious energy adds to the Child’s already deep feeling that she is the cause, the source of darkness in Helen’s and others’ lives. She has taken in shadow energy from others and identified with it. As the Critic and other Inner Selves begin to bully and scapegoat her, it confirms her self-negating convictions. She curls up, skeletal-like, cold and alone in a dark cavern filled to brimming with shadow energy.
After giving the Critic full voice, Helen returns to the Center or Aware Ego position. The Aware Ego separates energetically from the Critic, appreciates the underlying anxieties of the Critic, and yet also recognizes that the Critic has become a very dangerous force within the psyche. For this process (of healing the Inner Scapegoat) Helen, with the consciousness of the Aware Ego Process in relation to the Critic, learns how to step in between the Critic and the Shadow-Carrier Child. The Critic is told, with respect yet firmness, that it can discuss any concerns or criticisms with Helen (the more conscious Helen); however the Critic will no longer be permitted to attack the Inner Child. This inner dynamic takes a powerful commitment to protecting the Child from both inner and outer harm. The more the Aware Ego Process grows in relationship to the Critic, the less the Child is abused. As this occurs, the sensitive Child feels less threatened and more relaxed. This is the point at which the next phase of this healing process can begin.
How do we expel the shadow energy that the Vulnerable Child has absorbed throughout Helen’s life? We will discuss two paths that have been successful – both are important: First, we use Voice Dialogue to create a safe environment in which the Child may speak, feel, and express the pain, shock, and hurt of Helen’s life experiences. Second, we use transpersonal methods (visualization, intention, mindfulness, spiritual belief, energy work,
and ritual) to relieve the child of the shadow energy.
Voice Dialogue offers a respectful, safe pathway to the Inner Child. Because care has been taken to protect Helen’s Child from both outer and inner negative comments, behaviors and energies, she is more accessible. Helen again moves to another position in the room in order for us to speak with her Inner Child. In this moment she sits on the floor behind the chair and peers out with eyes alert and fearful. With gentle, empathetic presence and eventual questioning this sensitive, hurt aspect of the psyche begins to tell her story. She begins to share that, in reality her parents treated her horribly and hurt her immeasurably. She cries out, “Why would anyone do that to a little girl? They were bad people and they hurt me and they should have loved me. All I ever wanted was to be loved. Where were they? Why didn’t they see what I needed? Why didn’t they see who I am?”
Embraced by the empathy, gentleness, and loving silence of the facilitator, the Child experiences the pain of the many harsh and hurtful experiences of the past. There are tears – sobs. There is anger. As with all cathartic experiences, the Child realizes that she can ride the wave of the emotions that are there and, eventually, the wave will subside. The Child, who has been muted, learns that she will not be caught in the emotions forever; and that despite her fear, she will not die. It is through these profound emotional releases that Helen understands that there was no excuse for the parents’ behavior toward such a beautiful and loving Child. Helen (watching and hearing from a more objective consciousness) slowly releases the belief that she was responsible for the parents’ behaviors and for their underlying suffering. The Scapegoat-Identified Child begins to discharge the imbedded darkness locked in her body.
After several sessions with the Shadow-Carrier Child, Helen comes to a point where the tears of grief, pain, shock begin to turn to tears without cause. John Tarrant beautifully describes these larger tears, “Tears, like blood, are life’s water…They unbind us, translate us to ourselves, are the medium in which we move between one way of being and another. …something large is turning over in the inner life, and this means great changes are on the way.”
When Helen returns to the Center position (the Aware Ego) she separates from the Child, while still loving her, appreciating all of her dark and painful experiences, and the shadow material she had taken on from others. The facilitator encourages Helen to spend time with this Child in her life; to allow the Child to paint, draw, tell stories, dance – any form of creativity that will support the further expression and liberation of the pent up energies of a lifetime. Helen recognizes that this may be an ongoing life process that occurs at various times in her life.
Voice Dialogue is essentially about respect, understanding, and inclusivity; thus we do NOT say to the Child, “Okay you have had your chance to cry and rage about what happened to you – now get over it!” The fact is that this attitude toward vulnerability re-traumatizes the already scapegoated Child and thrusts her back into her dark cave of shame. For Helen this would translate into the continuation of the Scapegoat Complex in her life.
It is time for the last step in this process of healing the Inner Scapegoat. If we assume that shadow material has been cast onto Helen and that she has also absorbed this energy – part of the healing is having the scapegoater realize what he/she has done, apologize for it, and take back the transferred shadow energy.
Many readers may now be thinking that this is a nearly impossible expectation. Agreed. Here is where a transpersonal perspective comes in to play. Helen has a somewhat spiritual orientation to life (and death); she has a belief that the essence of a person existed before birth and exists after death.
For this discussion, let us assume that it was Helen’s mother who was the primary cause for Helen’s identification with the scapegoat archetype. Her mother was a rigid perfectionist. She was very demanding and critical; a cold, disconnected woman. Helen’s mother scapegoated her daughter by blaming her for the mother’s ailments. Helen’s mother thrust her darkness, her unconscious pain and hurt into the finely tuned child. This is much of the energy that gathered in Helen’s unconscious and in her body, and pulled her into the mire of depression, primary guilt and lack of fulfillment in life.
The facilitator explains that we are going to have a dialogue with the mother’s spirit. Helen is reassured that it is perfectly fine if she is skeptical or doesn’t actually “feel” her mother’s spirit. “Whether it is your mother’s spirit or your Inner Good Mother you might gain a great deal.” With this reassurance, Helen moves to another position and closes her eyes. The facilitator asks Helen to take a moment and come into a quiet, open, receptive – mindful place. The facilitator does the same. When Helen feels ready, we ask to speak with the spirit of Helen’s mother. Once again, the energy and presence of the facilitator is essential. The ability of the facilitator to access transpersonal dimensions or awareness helps summon a spiritual presence around and through Helen.
The facilitator welcomes the mother, and thanks her for being here. The facilitator emphasizes that we are talking to the spirit of the mother (heretofore called Mother/Spirit); and not the actual mother.
The dialogue that follows has various components:
1. The Mother/Spirit answers questions about her parents’ parents (Helen’s great grandparents): Where were they born? What were the conditions in which they grew? What were the rules and values of their family systems and the cultures into which they were born? This portion of the dialogue informs Helen of the generational patterns – the lineage of child-rearing practices her parents acted out with her.
2. Helen’s Mother/Spirit then answers similar and even more detailed questions about her parents and how they parented her and her siblings. The Mother/Spirit is asked to share how her parents’ treatment of her affected her as a child and as an adult. She moves into a feeling state toward herself when she was the Vulnerable Child, powerless to effect how she was being treated. Later Helen says, “I could feel my mother realizing that she had carried many of the beliefs and behaviors of her lineage. It was as though she was waking up to what she did to me.”
3. The facilitator proceeds to query the Mother/Spirit about her parenting of Helen. This gentle, yet probing inquiry calls upon the Mother to be honest in her appraisal of her attitudes and behaviors towards her daughter; and the affect these might have had on Helen. During this point in the dialogue that the Mother/Spirit begins to feel regret, guilt and sorrow about the harm she caused her daughter.
4. The facilitator, at a time when awareness of the consequences of the mother’s words and actions is heightened, points out that much of what was conveyed to Helen and much of the damaging behaviors on the part of the mother were actually the mother’s unprocessed material from her past. The Mother/Spirit agrees. It is made clear that the energy, the shadow energy penetrated Little Helen and sits to this day in her body impacting her life in innumerable ways. The Mother/Spirit agrees and acknowledges that the same thing happened to her; but rather than deal with what had happened to her, she passed it along with fury and neglect to Helen.
5. The facilitator asks the crucial question: “If you could relieve your daughter of some of the dark, painful energy you cast onto Helen, and that she absorbed from you, would you?” Helen’s Mother/Spirit immediately says, “Yes! I want to help her in any way I can to heal and live a full, free life.” In the author’s experience with over one hundred such dialogues, only one Parent/Spirit has ever declined this opportunity.
Helen’s Mother/Spirit is now fully present and anxious to help her daughter as well as to redeem herself. The facilitator describes, in some detail, the process that will follow; then allows the Mother/Spirit to implement the process while the facilitator supports her energetically with mindfulness. The “Parental Redemption Process” goes as follows:
With eyes closed and a soft pillow (some therapists use a life-like baby doll) in her arms, the Mother/Spirit relaxes and goes deeply inside. She imagines that she is walking up the path to the home of Helen’s childhood. Helen, at the age of two or three years old is running out to greet her – smiling and beautiful – pure love. The mother kneels down to greet her daughter and holds out her arms. Little Helen runs into her mother’s loving arms and throws her little arms around her mother’s neck grasping tightly. The mother holds her daughter close with warmth and deep connection. Little Helen can hear and feel her mother’s heartbeat, her warmth and love.
Little Helen continues to cuddle close to the mother’s chest. It is at this point that the Mother/Spirit begins to gently direct a laser light beam into the child’s body. Her attention is concentrated and precise as she guides the beam into Helen’s cellular structure. This laser beam of consciousness seeks out the cell, the nucleus, further into the chromosomes and the strands of DNA. It is here at the genetic level that the Mother/Spirit single-mindedly locates the “darkened” genes – those that carry shadow energy from Helen’s mother, father, family, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. When she discovers a darkened, grey gene, the Mother/Spirit uses the laser light to pull the dark energy from the gene. At this point the facilitator says, “Assume you know how to do this. You do. See the shadow energy emerge from the depths of Helen’s structure through the light and take it into you. You gave this energy to your daughter and she has been holding it ever since. She needs you to take responsibility for this dark matter, to take it back. This is your redemption – actually taking back and experiencing what never was Helen’s to begin with. It was yours to deal with, to process, to get help with.”
As the Mother/Spirit continues to pull shadow from her child and takes it into herself – she frees her daughter from the impossible task of transforming all that shadow energy.
At a certain point (never more than a few minutes) the Mother/Spirit feels complete (for the moment) with this process of excavating and digging out the age old shadow energy that has been imbedded in the core places in the child’s body. While still holding and loving the Child – the facilitator now speaks with intention, respect, yet clarity to them Mother/Spirit, “You understand now that the rage, hurt, shaming, corporal punishment, blaming with which you violated Helen needs to be taken back. You have begun to do this, to own the energy of those words and actions and pull them into you from whence they came. It is important to this process working that you consciously take back what was never Helen’s. And that you experience emotionally and physically some sense of the heaviness, downward pull, shame, hurt, fear your daughter has been living with since she was a baby!”
Through her own experience with this material (much of which was passed down to her by her lineage), the Mother/Spirit expresses her understanding of the power of the shadow energies to silence and deaden Helen’s life, health, or passion for anything. This Mother/Spirit cries. No words. At this point the Mother/Spirit is ready for the next step.
The facilitator says, “Just as Helen never deserved any of that dark energy, neither did you. You were betrayed by those who should have protected you and freed you to be a child rather than their Savior. So now that you have owned the shadow energy you projected onto and into Helen; and you have apologized for it; it is your turn. Keeping your eyes closed, it is time to allow the shadow energy to travel through your body/being, up through all your chakras – clearing them and like the laser light beam pulling this huge energy up and out through your crown chakra to a higher source. The facilitator stands at the back of the seated Mother/Spirit and energetically supports this material emerging from the Mother/Spirit through the crown. The shadow energy has been lifted from the Child into the Mother and now it is being lifted to a higher source: God, Goddess, the Universe, Great Spirit, Higher Consciousness – whatever works for the client. This process continues for as long as the Mother/Spirit feels is necessary to free her from this vast shadow energy.
When she is ready, all the while she has been holding the child in her arms; it is the Mother/Spirit’s time to speak directly to Little Helen. “Helen, I love you. I could not feel it nor demonstrate it. Now I see that I was not there for you. I was not the mother you needed and deserved. I did things for which I am dreadfully sorry. I feel tremendous sadness for the pain I put you through. I have taken back some of what was mine that became yours. I violated you in the worst ways, and I am so sorry.”
There are almost always tears at this time. The Mother/Spirit continues to hold the Child as she expresses her remorse and her regret and her promise to be more aware and to help in any way she can to continue this healing process. She agrees that if ever Helen calls for her she will absolutely be there to do another round of this shadow releasing ritual.
The facilitator thanks the Mother/Spirit, reminding her of the commitment to return to Helen whenever necessary to continue the releasing ritual. Helen gently returns to Her Aware Ego Process. The facilitator allows several minutes for the separate, yet embracing Conductor to detach from each of these important Inner Selves. The
Aware Ego Process turns to each inner player and acknowledges what just happened and what courage and love it took to engage in such a process. The Aware Ego Process reassures the inner world that this kind of process will happen many times to continue the process of discharging the shadow energy from Little Helen; and that the good news is that the primary cause of the build-up of shadow energy, the mother, is now, from the soul-level, fully enrolled in helping her daughter to live a full, rich, free life.
Here, it bears repeating the last paragraph of the third article in this series:
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 discovers and strengthens 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 or 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.
There are many more details to a depth process such as this; and every individual requires his/her own sequence and process. It is the author’s intent to convey the essential steps that have been used to assist in a healing of both the Scapegoat-Identified person and the Inner Scapegoat. In the process there is the chance for an awakening in those on the other side – the bullies, the perpetrators, those who scapegoat others.
Just as this healing process focuses on the internal transformation from the Scapegoat-Identified person; we must free the shadow-carriers of their burden and educate the oppressors as to what they are doing and why. We must take aggressive action to stop this scapegoating phenomenon. Although it may have to begin within individuals; it must move outwards to the culture. As this occurs – families will raise far healthier children, communities will generate far fewer victims and perpetrators, and nations will not project their darkness onto other nations or go to war to destroy in the other that which they will not see in themselves.
The Inner Scapegoat, like the historical scapegoat, is a sacred healer – a lover of life. Freed from the misunderstood role of saving others by taking on their shadow energy – this sensitive soul learns to support the growth and transformation of others, not by absorbing other’s unconscious material, but by teaching, counseling, creating, coaching. Their ‘divine’ or special quality is remembered and honored, and she will, once again, serve as a conduit that reconnects us with our larger nature.
i. Brinton Perera, Sylvia, The Scapegoat Complex: Toward a Mythology of Shadow and Guilt, Inner City Books, Toronto, 1986.
ii. For detailed information about the Inner Critic and how to consciously work with this powerful force within all of us: Stone, Hal and Sidra, Embracing the Inner Critic: Turning Self-Criticism into a Creative Asset, HarperCollins, NY, 1993.
iii. It is important to note that this therapist respects and often refers clients to practitioners specializing in one or more highly efficacious methodologies/technologies for resolving trauma and PTSD (EMDR, TFT, various forms of Energy Psychology, CBT, etc.) Voice Dialogue is currently used as an effective adjunct to many other forms of psychotherapy.
iv. Tarrant, John, The Light inside the Dark, HarperPerennial, NY, 1998, pg 103-104.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.