Powerful, uncanny and unpredictable

From: Lisa D. Finlay, Alexis D. Abernethy & Scott R. Garrels (2016) Scapegoating in Group Therapy: Insights from Girard’s Mimetic Theory, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy:

“…Scapegoating in group psychotherapy is a pervasive, complex, and challenging phenomenon for many group leaders. How scapegoating is worked through by the group can have a profound impact on whole-group dynamics and functioning. Although some key aspects of scapegoating have been identified in the psychoanalytic literature, the authors urge group leaders to consider systemic and group-level perspectives in depth. This article draws heavily from Yvonne Agazarian’s Systems-Centered Therapy, which provides a practical foundation for anticipating and preventing scapegoating in group therapy. The authors also explore scapegoating through the framework of René Girard’s Mimetic Theory, which offers a compelling anthropological explanation for why human beings scapegoat as well as a description of how scapegoat dynamics evolve in groups. Insights based on Mimetic Theory are integrated with existing interventions to suggest new ways of working through this critical group phenomenon…”

From: Psychodynamic Group Psychotherapy, Fourth Edition, by J. Scott Rutan, Walter N. Stone, and Joseph J. Shay (2007):

“…The divergent role most often is associated with a scapegoat, which is unfortunate because this role serves a very valuable function of providing differing perspectives. This is the oppositional or rebellious person who does not ordinarily comply with group norms or values. In a well- functioning group, it soon becomes apparent that all persons have such affects, and indeed one of the core conflicts of entering a group is that of joining while still maintaining one’s own values. The deviant role serves the therapeutic function of potentially bringing to the fore oppositional, rebellious, or deviant emotions or ideas for examination. It would be a dull and nontherapeutic group indeed if everyone agreed! However, the role carries a danger to the individual, who may be scapegoated and extruded. The group then loses the potential for examining hidden or “unacceptable” aspects of its membership. For example, the leader may encourage the group’s ability to self-reflect by suggesting that the scapegoat has introduced a topic, although difficult, which may help people see parts of themselves that are experienced as unacceptable. This approach highlights the positive nature of the scapegoat (divergent) role and may have the additional benefit of stimulating self-reflection for the scapegoat, whose character problems tend to draw him or her into that role…”

From: Richard Sugg: Fairies: A Dangerous History (2018):

“…Like witches, fairies were powerful, uncanny and unpredictable. And like witches, or vampires, or any of the world’s numerous magical figures, fairies were scapegoats. They could be blamed for almost anything, from human deaths through to mass famine. In one sense, the fairy as scapegoat was potentially a good thing. For fairies, real or not, could not be harmed. Women taken for witches certainly could be, and were — and after official persecution ended there were hundreds of serious vigilante assaults on them throughout Britain, right through to the end of the nineteenth century. In reality, however, fairy scapegoats did produce a great deal of human suffering. The problem, here, was what people did to real human beings who were believed to be fairy changelings…”

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