When we hear the word narcissism, we usually think of a single person – someone who is narcissistic or someone who is a victim of a narcissist. But what about those victims who are targeted, manipulated, and bullied by a group of narcissists?
In this case, there’s an entire group of haughty and condescending people that works to manipulate and exploit others for their own gain.
This can be detrimental to the victim because research shows that social rejection and emotional abuse activate the same areas of the brain as physical pain.
This harmful, abusive dynamic can be found everywhere around us -from narcissistic families and friendship circles to workplaces. The victim is verbally and emotionally abused and turned into a scapegoat by the narcissistic group for their own faults, problems, and dishonest work.
“The purpose of a scapegoat is to pass responsibility onto someone else. Usually, this person is unsuspecting at first and agrees because they are trying to get along with others. This technique of passing the buck is very common with narcissists, sociopaths, and addicts. Narcissists can’t allow their ego to be tarnished by an error. Sociopaths do it for the sport of it,” explains therapist Christine Hammond.
To make the conspiracy even more effective, the narcissistic group uses the victim’s sensitivity and compassion to silence them. They feed off the victim’s vulnerability, weaknesses, and insecurities to make sure that the victim feels too powerless to complain or take action.
What makes the narcissistic groups even more dangerous is their ability to manipulate and emotionally abuse the victim in a way that helps them escape accountability for their deviant actions. They manage to make their chosen target looks and feels like a “crazy” person while avoiding to take responsibility for being a part of the conspiracy and causing harm to them.
Moreover, they gaslight the victim into believing that they’re not being abused.
In all conspiracies of a narcissistic group, the scapegoat is perceived as an outsider, i.e. a “black sheep.” The black sheep is then bullied, taunted, demeaned, and ostracized. The group dumps projection, blame, and dissatisfaction on them. Additionally, they refuse to acknowledge the efforts of the individual, and in fact, the more he/she tries to win the approval of the group, the more they’re persecuted.
So, how and why is the victim chosen?
The victim who is chosen to be teased and excluded by the group is someone who is threatening to them in some way. Perhaps it’s their intellectual and social abilities, resourcefulness, resilience, ambition, physical appearance, or independence that arouses envy in the narcissist.
In a family, the victim is the child or children who are the most undermined and demeaned. These children are usually sensitive and compassionate and they’re not afraid to speak their mind. They’re perceived as a threat to the existing dysfunction of the toxic family and are therefore punished. The narcissistic parent encourages competition and distrust between these and the “golden children” – the ones that are spoiled in exchange for their absolute obedience.
In friendship circles or the workplace, the scapegoat is usually the new member of the group or someone who has the guts to question the authority of the narcissists within the group.
The victims are usually praised, idealized, and showered with love and attention at first. They’re made to feel like they’re a part of the group, which doesn’t support dissent.
The victim is expected to take the blame for any mistakes and deviant actions the group doesn’t want to be held accountable for. And most importantly, they’re expected to be quiet and keep on doing the dirty work for the group without revealing anything about it. As long as they’re obedient and play by the rules, they’re safe.
If the victim starts questioning the dynamics of the group, they can be belittled in front of other members of the group, stonewalled, and excluded. Moreover, they can have an ongoing smear campaign against them in reference to their character, stability, and ability to be a part of the group. The narcissistic group will relentlessly spread rumors and gossip about the victim to make them look like a problematic or even a crazy person.
If you are a victim of black sheep or scapegoating, take heart. They chose you as a target because you possess the abilities, mental strength, kindness, and power they lack. Because your qualities are threatening to a group that works best without fairness or integrity. Because it feels extremely pleasing and satisfying for them to diminish and ostracize a person who is more lovable and successful than they are.
They think they can exclude you from the group and make you feel less, but a person like you are can rise above the conspiracy and become stronger than ever.