It’s Narcissist Friday!
“Well, it’s your fault! If you hadn’t spent so much money on counseling, I wouldn’t have had to take out another loan.”
“I would have done a lot better if the stupid boss hadn’t changed the rules.”
“That patrolman’s radar gun is way off.”
“Your mother shouldn’t have said that. It ruined the whole celebration.”
“That idiot at the garage must have done something wrong. He probably sabotaged the gas pedal.”
“Those people at the computer place put all these viruses on my computer just so I would come back and pay them to fix it again.”
“He just hates me because I don’t have the right skin color.”
“My plan would have worked if the employees weren’t idiots!”
“It’s your fault!” “It’s his fault!” “It’s their fault!”
“It certainly isn’t my fault!”
LD sent a suggestion my way that makes a lot of sense. The old Hebrew practice of the scapegoat seems to fit well with the behavior of many narcissists. We know the term today as the recipient of blame for something done by another. It’s an aspect of projection, which we have talked about before, but there seems to be something added to it.
Not only does the narcissist project his own wrong behavior or weaknesses on others, but he believes that he is absolved as he does so. In other words, when the victim is blamed for something the narcissist does, then the guilt and shame attaches to the victim. And there is something more.
In the Bible (Leviticus 16), the scapegoat was an illustration of the atoning work of Christ. Not only did Jesus die for the sins of others, He also experienced some kind of rejection or separation from God as He bore our sins. This is a great mystery, but one taught in the Scripture as Jesus cried out asking why God had forsaken Him.
However, the narcissistic practice of scapegoating twists this idea in a particularly evil way. When the priest in the Old Testament made a sacrifice or offered the scapegoat for the sins of the people, it was very clear that the goat would suffer the punishment the people deserved. The goat carried no sin of its own. But when the narcissist scapegoats someone, the narcissist denies the sin as his own.
For example, when the narcissist is caught in a lie, he/she might accuse someone else of lying. The narcissist’s lie then becomes a mistake, perhaps even a testament to his trust of others. Not only the guilt and shame of the lie is placed on another, but the fact of the lie is rejected. If the narcissist steals something, he/she might say that those who owned it should not have left it out for others who would think they were giving it away. Not only is he/she absolved of the guilt, but there was no sin in the first place.
This may reveal why the true narcissist has such a difficult time turning to Christ. If there is no sin, there is no need for a Savior. By scapegoating others along the way, the narcissist convinces himself that he has no sin. At worst, he/she made a mistake. Mistakes don’t need a Savior; they just need a little understanding.
All of this looks a lot like projection, of course. The difference is that this is more than an attempt to distract. This is an attempt to present the narcissist as blameless. You have no reason to be angry or disappointed. He/she did nothing wrong. It was someone else’s fault. The image of the narcissist, what he wants you to believe about him, remains superior in every way.
Scapegoating is the convergence of several of the narcissist’s most cruel behaviors: denial, projection, depersonalization, lying, and more. Unlike Jesus, the narcissist’s scapegoats are unwilling participants in this “atonement.” They find themselves being blamed for things they didn’t do and rejected by the ones who actually did the sin. It is confusing and very painful.
But there is an interesting verse I have used for strength in the past.
Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight. Proverbs 26:2
Just because the narcissist uses you as a scapegoat does not mean you have to accept his sin. Even when he does his expert job of making you look bad, you know the truth. Hold on to what you know. Be free in your heart. Don’t accept the role of the scapegoat for him/her. It ultimately doesn’t matter what others think. It matters what the Lord thinks (the truth) and it matters what you think. And, don’t worry; the narcissist isn’t off the hook just because he thinks he put his sin on you.