While pondering dysfunctional relationships the other day in anticipation of my trip home for Thanksgiving, I hopped links until I landed on a few sites that discussed the phenomenon of the black sheep/outcast in a family. The gist of some current pop psychology thinking is that, unless the black sheep has a mental impairment or other function-obstructer, it is the family that outcasts him that is dysfunctional, not him. Apparently they tend to hide behind a wall of acute conformity and normalness, and make him the scapegoat for their various neuroses, anxieties and other personality bugaboos.
The goats and the sheep make it a little too Old MacDonald Had a Farm, I gotta say. As almost purely a descendant of Scottish Highlanders, goats and sheep are in my blood. Maybe I’m indentifying with this. Maybe not.
The notion of the dysfunctional family heaping their shit on the black sheep makes some sense, but I’m not sure I entirely agree—I am certainly no victim, and very much enjoy and cultivate my outsider status. My family couldn’t disagree with their dysfunctionality even if they tried: my father has been in AA for maybe thirty years; my brother has been sober most of his adult life because the drinking was getting out of hand when he was younger (but he’s not in a program that I’m aware of); my sister once qualified herself to me as an “enabler,” and has tried all kinds of programs; my mother met her husband at an Al-Anon meeting. Counting me, that’s all of us.