I spend a lot of time reading Sweet Violet’s blog. She is the adult daughter of a malignant narcissist mother and has a wonderful insight into what it means to grow up as the child of a narcissist.
Sweet Violet recently posted an excellent post on how the family scapegoat can also become a narcissist and why it’s not just the golden child that becomes the narcissist.
Here’s a link to Sweet Violet’s post -> The Narcissist’s Child: Scapegoats: not always what you expect
I would like to expound on what she wrote.
I was the scapegoat son of a narcissist mother, a perfectly enabling father, and twin golden child younger brothers.
Here are my thoughts on how the scapegoat can also become a narcissist:
The scapegoat and the golden child grew up in the same emotionally dysfunctional environment, and both are at the same deficient level of emotional development. They both had to invest in a prodigious amount of denial of their FOO dynamics in order to survive childhood. For example, if the narcissist is beating the scapegoat, the golden child is *required* to accept this behavior or else face the same wrath from the narcissist or even worse. This means that the golden child and the scapegoat are both required to accept abuse as “normal” in order to survive. With this FOO dynamic, either the scapegoat or the golden child can develop into a narcissist or a codependent, or with hopefully the right influences outside of their FOO while growing up, neither.
The main difference between whether the abused child, be it either a scapegoat or a golden child, becomes a narcissist or a codependent is empathy. If the child is capable of true empathy, they will most likely progress down the codependent path. If the child is not capable of true empathy, they will progress down the narcissist path. It’s all because of the denial they HAD to have in order to survive their childhood.
For the scapegoat / codependent, they use their denial to rationalize abusive behavior by saying things to themselves like “it’s not really that bad” or “they do really love me” or “I probably deserved it”. This same internal message is also reinforced by the abuser and all the abuser’s flying monkeys making the codependent ultimately believe it, even if it isn’t true. This is the same message that keeps getting repeated in their head as adults when they find themselves in a relationship with another narcissist and unable to extract themselves.
With the scapegoat / narcissist, they use their denial to rationalize the abusive behavior in exactly the same way as the codependent while growing up, saying things like “it’s not really that bad” or “they do really love me” or “I probably deserved it”. They also internalize this message and carry it into adulthood. The big difference is the scapegoat / narcissist lacks empathy and is unable to see the damage of abuse. The scapegoat / narcissist already *knows* all the rationalizations required in order to tolerate abuse, so if the person they are choosing to abuse does not know how to rationalize the scapegoat / narcissist’s behavior, the scapegoat / narcissist can provide them with a blueprint. This means that the same internal message that the scapegoat has running in their mind that “it’s not really that bad” from childhood is told to their abuse victim when they abuse them. The same internal message that “they really do love me” from childhood is echoed to their abuse victim when they tell their abuse victim “I only do this because I love you”.
In my opinion, it’s probably even more difficult for the scapegoat / narcissist to ever address their issues than the golden child / narcissist. The huge wall of denial that the scapegoat / narcissist had to create to rationalize their abuse as a child and then turn around and perpetuate that same abuse as an adult means they would never be able to accept that they are just as flawed as their parents, and continuing in denial is significantly more comfortable than facing the fact that they are just as horrible as their parents.