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How unconscious feelings about ourselves drive scapegoating

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Washington Post, July 2022

Scapegoating — the projecting of unwarranted blame — can crop up often in everyday life. It happens in troubled homes where members shame a family scapegoat rather than look at the true nature of their frustrations. Political leaders can direct constituents’ fears toward a single target: immigrants. Scapegoating also can take a hateful, violent turn. Witness the attacks on Asian Americans during the pandemic and the recent mass shooting of Black people in Buffalo.

On the surface, scapegoating appears straightforward: a case of misguided accusations and aggression. But it’s much more psychologically nuanced, experts say, and those who scapegoat are often driven by unconscious dynamics.

“I don’t have to deal with myself if I scapegoat, if I blame,” said Deborah Stewart, a Jungian psychoanalyst in Cape Cod, Mass. “That’s the part that most people don’t really know — that they are trying to expel some of their very own feelings by putting them on others.”

Continue reading at the Washington Post.

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