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The Scapegoat Society website

The Scapegoat Society, Forest Row, East Sussex, RH18 5JF, England.


The Scapegoat Society was formed in the autumn of 1997 for those concerned with the dynamics of attributing blame to others - the core of scapegoating and demonizing. The Scapegoat Society is a resource both for people who have experienced being a scapegoat, and for people working professionally to resolve scapegoat problems.

The age-old phenomenon of scapegoating shows up everywhere. It causes great anxiety and misery. Scapegoats are found in almost every social context: in school playgrounds, in families, in small groups, and in large organizations. Whole nations may be scapegoated. The work of The Scapegoat Society [non-profit] is to raise consciousness about scapegoating and its dynamics so as to make it easier to resist and root out.

Merely to avoid awkwardness we use the masculine pronoun throughout. For the convenience of search engines we use some American spellings.


Scapegoating is a hostile social - psychological discrediting routine by which people move blame and responsibility away from themselves and towards a target person or group. It is also a practice by which angry feelings and feelings of hostility may be projected, via inappropriate accusation, towards others. The target feels wrongly persecuted and receives misplaced vilification, blame and criticism; he is likely to suffer rejection from those who the perpetrator seeks to influence. Scapegoating has a wide range of focus: from "approved" enemies of very large groups of people down to the scapegoating of individuals by other individuals. Distortion is always a feature.


First of all build an understanding of what has been going on, not just on the surface, but deeper as well. What is your scapegoater really trying to achieve? You can deepen your knowledge by studying the material on this site. If you feel you need expert help and you live in the UK, you can look for a therapist by using our links page. Ask your therapist for help with strategies for undoing the scapegoating as well as for staying clear of being a scapegoat in the future.

If you are not going to use a therapist then concentrate on understanding what is going on between you and whoever is your scapegoater. Your awareness may help to run down and stop the process. Make it clear that you have spotted the mechanism and that you will talk freely about it until it stops - rather than continue to be available as a scapegoater's target. Regrettably, The Scapegoat Society is not able to offer direct help with episodes of scapegoating but there is a page on undoing scapegoating that is worth considering.


In scapegoating, feelings of guilt, aggression, blame and suffering are transferred away from a person or group so as to fulfill an unconscious drive to resolve or avoid such bad feelings. This is done by the displacement of responsibility and blame to another who serves as a target for blame both for the scapegoater and his supporters. The scapegoating process can be understood as an example of the Drama Triangle concept [Karpman, 1968].

The perpetrator's drive to displace and transfer responsibility away from himself may not be experienced with full consciousness - self-deception is often a feature. The target's knowledge that he is being scapegoated builds slowly and follows events. The scapegoater's target experiences exclusion, ostracism or even expulsion.

In so far as the process is unconscious it is more likely to be denied by the perpetrator. In such cases, any bad feelings - such as the perpetrator's own shame and guilt - are also likely to be denied. Scapegoating frees the perpetrator from some self-dissatisfaction and provides some narcissistic gratification to him. It enables the self-righteous discharge of aggression. Scapegoaters tend to have extra-punitive characteristics [Kraupl-Taylor, 1953].

Scapegoating also can be seen as the perpetrator's defense mechanism against unacceptable emotions such as hostility and guilt. In Kleinian terms, scapegoating is an example of projective identification, with the primitive intent of splitting: separating the good from the bad [Scheidlinger, 1982]. On another view, scapegoaters are insecure people driven to raise their own status by lowering the status of their target [Carter, 1996].


The Scapegoat Society spreads news about itself by asking people who find these details of its work to pass them on to anyone who they think might be interested. We think of these people, with gratitude, as our ambassadors.


The Scapegoat Society is a simple non-profit association; there are no membership dues, committees, and so on. Instead, the Society simply invites voluntary donations from supporters wanting to encourage its work and help it to cover its expenses. No surplus is sought or accumulated, no bank interest is earned. All funds received are strictly for conducting and promoting the work of the Society.


The author of this description is the founder of The Scapegoat Society, Simon Crosby. Simon has a psychotherapy practice in Forest Row, England. He is writing a book on present-centred living Getting Free - Staying Free.


Berlet, C & Lyons, M. N: Scapegoating.

Carter, C. A: Kenneth Burke and the Scapegoat Process. Norman, USA, 1996.

Collins, S: Step-parents and Their Children. London, 1988. p134+

Colman, A.D: Up from Scapegoating. Illinois, USA, 1995.

Douglas, T: Scapegoats: Transferring Blame. London 1995

Dworkin, A: Scapegoat: The Jews Israel, and Womens's Liberation. London 2000

Engle, P: Mimesis and the Scapegoat.

Frazer, J.G: The Golden Bough [vol. 5]. London, 1993

Girard, R: The Scapegoat. USA, 1986

Karpman, S.B: Fairy Tales and Script Drama Analysis. In: Transactional Analysis Bulletin VII no.26, 1968. p39-43.

Kraupl-Taylor, F & Rey, T. H: The Scapegoat Motif [etc]. Int. J. Psychoanalysis 34, 1953. p253-264.

Lewis, D: Loving and Loathing. London, 1985. p23+

Perera, S.B: The Scapegoat Complex. Toronto, 1986

Scheidlinger, S: On Scapegoating [etc]. Int J. Group Psychotherapy. 32, 1982. p131-142.


du Maurier, D: The Scapegoat. London 1957.
The role of the scapegoat, for the sins of a French aristocrat and his family, is thrust on a lonely English traveler, sparking a series of dramatic reactions.

Pennac, D: The Scapegoat. USA 1999.
About the trials of a professional scapegoat. Described as a charmingly jittery guide to the mercantile post-modern. Set in Paris.


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02 July 2003
All rights reserved Gabriel Harrison