In all family’s there are roles that each person takes on. Especially in families with many siblings, it is easier to detect the dysfunctional roles that each person embodies. Each dysfunctional family may have addiction present, personality disorders like OCD, or depression. The hero, the scapegoat, the mascot, and the lost child, are all roles that you can fall under. It is also common to have a subtle combination of these roles. Here are the roles and what each role entails:
The Hero The family hero is your typical Type A personality: a hard-working, overachieving perfectionist. Through his or her own achievements, the hero tries to bring the family together and create a sense of normalcy. Unfortunately, a driving need to “do everything right” tends to put an extreme amount of pressure on the hero, leaving them highly anxious and susceptible to stress-related illnesses later in life.
The Scapegoat The scapegoat is just what you would expect: the one person who gets blamed for the whole family’s problems. He or she offers the family a sense of purpose by providing someone else to blame. They voice the family’s collective anger, and may shield the addicted parent from a lot of blame and resentment. When the scapegoat gets older, males tend to out in violence, while females often run away or participate in promiscuous sex.
The Mascot Think of the mascot as the class clown, always trying to deflect the stress of the situation by supplying humor. This role is usually taken on by the youngest child; they’re fragile, vulnerable, and desperate for the approval of others. Providing comic relief is also the mascot’s defense against feeling pain and fear himself. Mascots often grow up to self-medicate with alcohol, perpetuating the cycle of addiction.
The Lost Child The lost child role is usually taken on by the middle or youngest child. They’re shy, withdrawn, and sometimes thought of as “invisible” to the rest of the family. They don’t seek (or get) a lot of attention from other family members, especially when making decisions, have trouble with forming intimate relationships, and choose to spend time on solitary activities as a way to cope.
These dysfunctional roles tend to be more prevalent in families when the siblings are young and growing up, although these roles may carry over into adulthood. Children raised in environments with such roles, cause them to adopt roles in order to survive.