Wells, L (1995.). “Scapegoating in groups (pp 71-73)”. The group as a whole; a systemic socioanalytic perspective to interpersonal and group relations. Chapter 3 in Groups in Context: a new perspective on group dynamics text edited by Gillette, J. and McCollom, M.


Int J Group Psychother. 1995 Jan;45(1):55-71.

Indirect scapegoating via projective identification and the mother group.

  • Int J Group Psychother 1995 Apr;45(2):following 258.


This article proposes an indirect route to role suction and scapegoating via projective identification (PI) of members’ split-off feelings into the group. For these members, the group is a good, soothing mother. Other members, sensitive to a projected feeling, introject it from the group and may become scapegoats. For them the group is the bad, invasive mother. This model provides a unifying explanation for the literature’s contrasting depiction of the group as either a good or a bad mother. By fostering the containment and holding functions of the group and exploring and interpreting the interrelated phenomena of PI, the mother group, and indirect scapegoating, the therapist can facilitate the development of more realistic, integrated, internal-object-relations, which in turn fosters improved interpersonal relations.