What happens to the golden child when the scapegoat leaves?

In this article, we will try to understand what happens to the golden child when the scapegoat leaves. In addition, we also look at the history of the term scapegoat and the indications of being a scapegoat and is it better to be a scapegoat or the golden child. Lastly, we will also look at one of the most famous narcissistic family in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

What happens to the golden child when the scapegoat leaves?

The golden child is usually the most impacted when the scapegoat leaves.  Golden Children often “get away with murder,” projecting their own wrongdoing on the Scapegoat who is then punished for what the Golden Child did. The golden child may vent their rage about the abuse they are enduring at the hands of their narcissistic parent on the Scapegoat, abusing the Scapegoat in exactly the same ways. The scapegoat is the punching bag for the Golden Child. When the scapegoat child leaves the family, the Golden child now has to keep all the troubles within themselves, until a new scapegoat is found. 

The loss of a human punching bag is not easy for the golden child. They have to then swallow all their anger and rage. All these unwanted feelings of aggression, perfection pile until one day it all bursts and turns into the golden child being the imperfect one.  If one bottle up their feelings, it can further lead to various psychological disorders, and to a narcissistic mother, her golden child cannot have something that the society looks down upon. A golden child, who is always in the spotlight cannot commit a mistake.  If done so, they will be put down from the pedestal. With the scapegoat child leaving there is no one to take the blame. This puts the golden child’s reputation in danger. The golden child now has to be extra careful of what it does. 

Therefore when a scapegoat child leaves, the ultimate protection of the golden child is also gone. 

Does the leaving of a scapegoat impact the family? 

If the scapegoat leaves, the discord in the remainder of the family often increases without the scapegoat there to buffer the friction. The other family members may turn on one another as the tension increases or someone else will be assigned the role. However, if you are the scapegoat and you leave the family that does not necessarily mean you will be let out of your assigned role.

What is the history of a scapegoat?

Most of us have heard the term and understand the popular use of the word, but the idea of a scapegoat has a long history. There is some mention of a scapegoat rite in Ancient Greece. However, our current use of the word comes from the English translation of the Hebrew term from the Bible. Our current usage literally means “an individual, group or country singled out for unmerited negative treatment or blame.” 

The Bible documents the use of a scapegoat dating back to the accounts of the children of Israel. In Leviticus 16, the scapegoat was an actual goat. The sins of the people were ceremonially placed on the head of the goat, then the goat was cast out of the community and into the desert alone to symbolize the removal of sin and guilt.

 If you are the scapegoat son or daughter of a narcissistic mother, you may know just exactly how that feels! 

Golden Child and Scapegoat

You may be familiar with a common dynamic in narcissistic households: favoritism between siblings. In this scenario, the narcissist favors one child above the others. We call this favored sibling the Golden Child. The narcissist gives the Golden Child special treatment, including praising them for even mundane accomplishments. They hold the Golden Child up to the others as a shining example of excellence. The other side of this coin is the Scapegoat. Narcissists will punish a Scapegoat child more severely for routine behaviors. They judge the Scapegoat more harshly for going against expectations and downplay the Scapegoat’s accomplishments and successes. They may blame the Scapegoat for any problems within the family.

How do you know if you are the scapegoat? 

You may have long ago realized you are the scapegoat or you may be just beginning to realize the reality of the situation. Either way, do not beat yourself up about it. 

Some indications of being the scapegoat are: 

  • You are the truth-teller;
  • You are blamed for things you have no control over or were not your fault;
  • You are the target of false accusations – accused, lied, and gossiped about;
  • You are labeled the troublemaker;
  • You are left out of or the last to learn of a family business or news;
  • You are always the first to apologize and forgive, even when you are one who truly deserves the apology;
  • Your accomplishments are ignored, sabotaged, or invalidated;
  • You are accused of being selfish when you take care of yourself or if you do not meet even ridiculous demands;
  • You may be accused of being unstable, dishonest, or crazy;
  • You may be shunned or ostracized.
  • Even with all of the above, you may be the one everyone runs to in a crisis.

Is it better to be a scapegoat child or a golden child? 

I mean who wouldn’t want to be the apple of your parent’s eye right? You would all your parent’s attention on you. You would love to be praised by your mother often, and none of your faults are to be ever considered. 

However, we know anything in excess is always harmful. Remember, golden children, are ultimately the tarnished ones.

Being a golden child is like being the narcissistic parent’s mini-me. They aren’t allowed to be themselves, nor are they allowed to be imperfect, because that would reflect badly on the parent. Whilst they seem to have it easy, the reality is that they are always on stage being scrutinized, usually suffering from a permanent and crippling case of performance anxiety. To be in the narcissist’s spotlight is to be constantly judged. Having one’s inevitable flaws held up to the cruel and critical gaze of the narcissist.

From the outside, it can seem pretty good. Better than the alternative. After all, being scapegoated is no fun. But scapegoats eventually escape the crucible, often with their identity intact. They usually have enough of a sense of self and of reality to relate to others and to seek their own path. Although the injuries to the self are still there, a scapegoat, by definition, is less favored and ultimately less impinged upon by the narcissistic parent. Even though family life is painful, scapegoats still escape the worst of the wounding.

All members of a narcissistic family have their own separate and equally painful experience. In this difficult environment, siblings become hostile, and rivalry is amped to toxic levels. Narcissistic parents do nothing to adjudicate, soothe, or demonstrate good boundaries. Relationships are purely instrumental, transactional, and often exploitative, both within the family and outside it.

Sometimes the golden child can become another narcissist. Indoctrinated into the worldview of the damaged parent, the chosen one absorbs emotional damage alongside the attention. Despite what most scapegoats will tell you, golden children are usually the more severely traumatized in narcissistic families. But the trauma is all on the inside. Because they are “closer” to the parent, golden children are more vulnerable to the unconscious processes that create the intergenerational trauma at the heart. 

Gamora, Nebula and Thanos! 

Yes, you read that right. We are talking about one of the more interesting – and heartbreaking – storylines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The number of times we must have seen Avengers Infinity War and Endgame, but we have never realized that there is no better example of a golden and scapegoated child than Gamora and Nebula. 

From Guardians through Avengers: Endgame, we see this dynamic played out between Thanos, Nebula, and Gamora. Thanos clearly and openly favors Gamora, even referring to her as his favorite daughter in front of Nebula. When Gamora rejects Thanos’ mad plan to end half of all life in the known universe, Thanos sends Nebula after her. But Nebula has never been able to best Gamora in combat. He knows she will most likely fail in her mission. Thanos still wants to win Gamora back to his side. He doesn’t want her to die, he wants her to become his right-hand assassin again. Whether Nebula survives or not is inconsequential to him. Nebula knows this, and despite her attempts to play it cool, her pain is evident.

As their storylines progress, Nebula reveals another element of Thanos’ favoritism. She recalls training in combat with Gamora, as young orphans adopted by Thanos (after he destroyed their families). Thanos literally pitted the girls against each other in battle, forcing them to fight again and again. The loser was then subjected to further horrific punishment: Thanos would remove a body part and replace it with cybernetics. Gamora never lost. Nebula suffered tremendously. Gamora was the golden child, who was Thanos’s favorite, and Nebula just a means to gain something. 

Nebula’s pain, anger, and resentment may resonate for the Scapegoat children who grew up watching a sibling placed upon a pedestal.  Although when Gamora learns that Nebula only wants a sisterly relation between them to exist, they do change their relationship and opt-out from Thanos’s game. 

Having to live with a narcissistic parent is not easy for both the scapegoat and the golden child. 


In this article, we will try to understand what happens to the golden child when the scapegoat leaves. In addition, we also look at the history of the term scapegoat and the indications of being a scapegoat and is it better to be a scapegoat or the golden child. Lastly, we will also look at one of the most famous narcissistic family in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

FAQs: What happens to the golden child when the scapegoat leaves?

Does the scapegoat become a narcissist?

Yes, it is most likely for the scapegoat child to become the narcissist because they crave the attention and adoration of the parent. The scapegoat can either become a narcissist because of all the pain they went through and build a false self to feel good or become codependent desperately in need of love and admiration.

Can the golden child become the scapegoat?

Yes, they can, but never at the same time. If a child is giving the parent their “narcissistic supply” they will continue to be treated as the golden child, but the minute they try to develop a sense of individuality, they will be reverted to scapegoat status because they are no longer acting as the way the narcissistic parent wants.

Why does a narcissist need a scapegoat?

Like every person needs a punching bag, a narcissistic parent needs a scapegoat. The permanent scapegoat permits the narcissistic mother to make sense of family dynamics and the things that displease her without ever blemishing her own role as a “perfect” mother, or feeling the need for any introspection or action