We all have a tendency to blame, though we often disguise it. We naturally seek the cause of things, particularly things that threaten or harm us (real or imagined), and from there it is a small step to attributing blame. On its own, this habit is relatively harmless, though it tends to take our thinking down a cul-de-sac, and it also provides the fuel for limitless arguments. Scapegoating, on the other hand, can have far more serious consequences.

Scapegoating is a naturally occurring aspect of human behaviour. It is widespread and, left unchecked, quickly causes anxiety and misery. It is often a response to insecurity or uncertainty though ironically it aggravates both. It can occur in virtually any social context or group: schools, the family and organisations. Entire cultures and nations may be scapegoated, as history and recent global events have shown.

Though the phenomenon is natural and can be highly destructive, it can be checked and contained if we are individually aware of it. Once we spot the behaviour in ourselves and recognise it for what it is (an insidious habit that can taker us over), we can change the behaviour. When we notice that other members of the group are acting in this way we can simply refuse to join in.

If you think it will make a difference, you could also point it out to them, but don’t hold your breath.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


Leave A Comment