A SCAPEGOAT is (usually) a person or group of people unjustly blamed for some set of circumstances arising from the actions of others. Scapegoats bear the brunt of crowd hostility and, once identified by an angry mob, find themselves in no-win, dangerous — even lethal — situations.
Scapegoating is as old as humankind. In The Annals, Tacitus notes,
“He feared that he might be made the scapegoat, and that lying or telling the truth would be equally dangerous.” (p6/ch27)
“A crowd always finds a scapegoat, no matter how groundless the charges.” (p25/ch 39)
Tacitus. The Annals: The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero. Oxford World’s Classics. Translated by J.C. Yardley. Introduction and notes by Anthony A. Barrett. Oxford University Press Inc.: New York. 2008.
Click here to read “The Psychology of Scapegoating”, by Neel Burton, MD.