In the world of counseling and psychology, families do this all the time. It’s called scapegoating. A common example is when a child gets pinned as the guilty party when in actuality, the dysfunction in the family stems from the mother or father’s relationship.
Families do this to draw attention away from the actual problem and onto someone else. “My absentee parenting and alcohol abuse is not the problem. Little Junior is. See how he constantly throw tantrums?”
Never mind that he throws tantrums as a way to cope when Dad’s drunk and abusive. At least when he’s having a tantrum, Dad doesn’t hit Mom because they both turn their focus onto him.
Writers scapegoat characters all the time, especially in mystery writing. We want our readers to focus attention elsewhere while we hide the truth from them. In counseling, this deflection is not good and actually interferes with the therapeutic process. In mystery writing, this distraction is a necessary
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