Crazy Aunt Sally The Scapegoat

Codependent families do things like call each other about another family member who they have labeled as "emotionally or mentally ill", because they are "concerned" about them, but they will not speak directly to that family member. That would be too real, and too direct; and it would be something like treating that scapegoated family member as if they were a Real Person. 

They create the scapegoat in order to have someone in their group who is always lower status than they are, and to give that person real and direct support like they would give a "Real Family Member" would risk elevating the scapegoat's self-esteem and feeling of belonging, and that would upset the apple cart. The status quo in the family is created, and then carefully maintained, for years, no matter what it costs to whoever is elected "Scapegoat".

Often a person who is not even close to being mentally ill will be the person who is elected, only because they are the least likely to cause consequences. They are often the person who is easiest to paint "crazy", because of their gender, demeanor, birth order, appearance, or occupation. Often a high IQ, attractive looks, or looks that are "different" make a person a target of jealousy and who seek to push the person down. Cousin Sally who has a quiet or happy demeanor, who would rather sing in a band then go watch the men play softball with everyone else, is much easier to scapegoat than Uncle Frank, who is an electrician and plays softball on the town league. Everyone disregards Sally's actual reality, they simply delete it and replace it with their own; Sally has owned three businesses, is a composer and songwriter, an accomplished artist, worked with special needs children, is a good mother, does not go near illegal drugs, has a clean driving record, and has helped many people through the years. And yet they paint Sally as an irresponsible whackjob who "probably does drugs" (although no one has ever seen her do them), and promiscuous because THEY find her attractive; not even close to the truth. Frank, however, has cheated on his wife several times, has received 2 DUI's, has blown off his own child's school functions to play softball with "the boys", would rather go bowling and drinking with his male friends than do anything with his wife, and is still labeled a "Great, Stable Guy".

Reputations are often simply a facade created by families and communities, in order to maintain their illusion that makes them feel safe and feel like they are part of the "Good People Crowd". There has to be an outsider in order for there to be insiders.