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Beautiful Scars: What the Art of Kintsugi Can Teach Us About Healing From Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA)

Kintsugi Vase Healing From Abuse

Article Summary: The ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi beautifully illustrates the concept of embracing imperfections and turning brokenness into beauty. This practice involves repairing broken pottery with gold, silver, or platinum lacquer, highlighting the cracks rather than concealing them. Versus feeling self-conscious or a sense of shame or inferiority as related to their ‘invisible’ (intrapsychic / psycho-emotional) wounds and scars, adult survivors of family scapegoating abuse (FSA) may benefit by re-envisioning their healing process from family trauma and abuse as a journey of artful restorationwhereby intrapsychic wounds are transformed into imperfect – yet still beautiful – scars.


There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

In my trauma-informed FSA Recovery Coaching℠ practice, I will often refer to the Kintsugi Vase as an analogy for healing from family scapegoating abuse (FSA) when working with new clients.

For those of you who have not yet been introduced to the inspiring concepts of Kintsugi (or Kintsukuroi), here’s a little history regarding the philosophy behind this art form.

Originating from Japan, these beautiful broken, then restored, vessels embody profound notions of healing and transformation. The essence of this technique lies in repairing shattered pottery by accentuating its cracks with urushi lacquer infused with precious materials such as gold, silver, or platinum dust.

Similarly, in our own journey through life, it’s vital to recognize and embrace our wounds and imperfections, understanding that they contribute to our individual beauty and inner strength.

This practice serves as a poignant metaphor for navigating the path of recovery from trauma and abuse – including ‘invisible’ (psycho-emotional) abuse such as FSA.

Instead of concealing our scars or viewing them as symbols of weakness, we can reframe them as testaments to resilience and survival.

Just like the delicate artistry of Kintsugi celebrates the history and endurance within every fracture, we too can honor the stories etched into our beings through experiences both challenging and transformative.

Similar to the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, healing from the deep intrapsychic wounds inflicted by FSA also follows a parallel path of transformation. It involves bravely acknowledging past hurts, embracing vulnerability as a strength rather than a weakness, and ultimately turning pain into resilience.

By drawing comparisons between the philosophy of Kintsugi and the journey towards healing from FSA, we can uncover profound insights into the restorative abilities of self-care and self-compassion in navigating through – and transcending – trauma.

Below are five lessons that the philosophy and art of Kintsugi can teach adult survivors recovering from family scapegoating abuse:

1. Embracing Imperfection: Kintsugi teaches us to accept imperfections as part of life’s journey. Similarly, individuals healing from FSA often struggle with feelings of inadequacy and self-blame. Recognizing that imperfections do not diminish one’s worth is a crucial step towards healing. Just as the cracks in a Kintsugi vase become symbols of resilience, the scars of FSA can serve as reminders of inner strength.

It’s essential to recognize that imperfections do not diminish one’s worth; in fact, they can be powerful symbols of resilience. Much like how the cracks in a repaired Kintsugi vase become symbols of strength and beauty, the scars left by FSA can serve as poignant reminders of one’s inner fortitude and capacity for healing and growth.


To hear me discuss these five lessons on YouTube, visit the link below. I do not script my videos and you will always hear something new that is not included in my corresponding articles!


2. Transforming Pain into Beauty: Healing is not about erasing scars but about learning to embrace them as part of your unique story. Just as Kintsugi highlights the mended areas with gold, you too can acknowledge your past experiences, vulnerabilities, and strengths with compassion and self-acceptance.

To transform and transcend the deep intrapsychic wounding of FSA is not an easy feat; it requires courage, self-compassion, and dedication to one’s healing journey. But just like the repaired pottery that becomes even more beautiful with its golden seams, survivors can emerge from their struggles stronger, more resilient, and with a newfound sense of purpose.

Remember that healing is not linear. In my FSA Recovery Coaching practice, I encourage my clients to think of healing as a winding, meandering, non-linear journey. There will be days you feel you are triumphing over adversity and other days where you may feel like you’ve made no progress at all -or are even going backwards!

Be gentle with yourself during this process. Seek support from trusted friends, therapists, or support groups who understand your journey. Through introspection and reflection, you can learn from your past traumas, cultivate resilience, and ultimately create a new sense of self-worth that radiates brightly like the precious metals used in Kintsugi.

3. Honoring History and Exploring Heritage: Kintsugi honors the history of the broken object by incorporating its past into its present form. Similarly, healing from FSA involves acknowledging and processing one’s family history, including patterns of dysfunction and abuse. By understanding the roots of FSA within their family dynamics, individuals can begin to break free from generational cycles of trauma.

In my FSA Recovery Coaching practice, clients are invited to explore what might be generational patterns of trauma and abuse via a Family Genogram.

A family genogram is a visual representation of a person’s family relationships and dynamics, often depicted in a diagram or chart format. It typically includes information about family members, such as their names, dates of birth, relationships to one another, and significant life events. Family genograms use symbols or color-coding to represent various family dynamics, such as conflicts, alliances, and patterns of behavior, including emotional patterns and traumatic events, such as the sudden and unexpected death of a parent or the loss of a child.

Utilizing the Family Genogram can be a powerful tool in the process of healing from the deep psycho-emotional wounds caused by FSA. This visual representation of family relationships and dynamics can provide valuable insights into generational patterns, roles, and interconnections that may have contributed to family scapegoating behaviors and the attendant trauma experienced via FSA and attendant complex trauma symptoms.

By mapping out these complex family dynamics, FSA adult survivors can gain a better understanding of how they have been impacted by this insidious form of systemic abuse and begin to untangle themselves from harmful family narratives, including what I call the ‘scapegoat narrative’. Through this process, healing can begin as individuals acknowledge their experiences, set boundaries, and work towards breaking free from cycles of abuse and scapegoating within their family system. To learn more about the scapegoat narrative, you can watch my video here.

4. Finding Strength in Vulnerability: Just as embracing vulnerability is essential in Kintsugi to create something even more exquisite than before, so too in healing from family abuse, vulnerability becomes a source of immense strength.

Reaching out for support and opening up about past experiences are courageous steps towards mending the psycho-emotional wounds caused by FSA and rediscovering self-worth and inner peace.

Engaging in therapy with someone who is trauma-informed and/or understands family roles, such as a licensed Marriage, Family Therapist, or joining support groups can provide a ‘safe-enough’ space to explore these vulnerabilities and begin the journey towards empowerment.

It is through these acts of bravery that individuals can experience true healing and emerge stronger than ever before. Remember, it’s okay to be vulnerable – it is often in our moments of greatest openness that we find our greatest strength.

5. Cultivating Resilience and Self-Love: Ultimately, both Kintsugi and the healing journey from FSA are powerful pathways towards resilience and self-love.

By acknowledging and embracing their imperfections, individuals undergoing healing can honor their past experiences and begin to cultivate a deep sense of wholeness and self-acceptance.

Just like a Kintsugi vase, which becomes a one-of-a-kind masterpiece after being mended with gold, survivors of FSA have the potential to emerge from their pain with newfound strength, self-worth, and inner beauty that shines brightly despite the scars of their past.

The journey towards healing is not easy but it is transformative; every step taken towards healing is a courageous act of self-love and empowerment.

In my work with FSA adult survivors, I use Dr. Janina Fisher’s workbook Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma to help my clients understand complex trauma (C-PTSD) symptoms and how to help themselves when feeling hyper or hypo-aroused when their C-PTSD symptoms have been activated or ‘triggered’.

Once Dr. Fisher’s workbook has been completed, I invite my client to develop self-compassion practices via The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Christopher Germer.

Conclusion: The art of Kintsugi vase serves as a powerful metaphor for the journey of healing from family scapegoating abuse. By embracing imperfection, transforming pain into beauty, honoring history and heritage, finding strength in vulnerability, and cultivating resilience and self-love, survivors can reclaim their sense of agency and create a life filled with meaning and purpose. Like a Kintsugi vase, they emerge from their experiences stronger, more resilient, and more beautiful than ever before.

By honoring your journey and embracing all facets of yourself – including the imperfections – you are taking significant steps towards reclaiming your power and fostering deep inner resilience. As you continue your healing journey, remember to practice self-care regularly.

Engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul – whether it’s meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, or seeking therapy support. Surround yourself with understanding and supportive individuals who champion your growth and remind you of your inherent worth.

By integrating these practices into your daily life and approaching yourself with kindness and understanding akin to how a skilled artisan handles delicate pottery during the Kintsugi process, you are nurturing a foundation for profound healing and transformation. Embrace each scar as a testament to your courage, strength, and unwavering resilience on this remarkable journey towards self-discovery and recovery from past traumas.

By honoring your journey and embracing all facets of yourself – including the imperfections – you are taking significant steps towards reclaiming your power and fostering deep inner resilience. As you continue your healing journey, remember to practice self-care regularly.

Engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul – whether it’s meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, or seeking therapy support. Surround yourself with understanding and supportive individuals who champion your growth and remind you of your inherent worth.

May you embrace each and every psycho-emotional wound and scar as a testament to your courage, strength, and unwavering resilience on this remarkable journey towards self-discovery, ‘true self’ recovery, and healing from past abuses and associated trauma.

2 thoughts on “Beautiful Scars: What the Art of Kintsugi Can Teach Us About Healing From Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA)”

  1. Calista

    Very encouraging. How does this approach interact with the cumulative effects of trauma, such as the kind acknowledged in the concept of “the body remembers”? As a lifelong family scapegoat who broke away from toxic relatives only a few years ago, but since then has endured medical trauma, the challenges feel never-ending.

    1. Rebecca C. Mandeville, MA

      Hi Calista, I would say that in this article (and video) I am addressing a way of ‘reframing’ one’s painful experiences and self-concept in regard to family scapegoating abuse (FSA). As trauma is held in the body, the many pathways toward healing that I describe in my articles on complex trauma, and as described by researchers and clinicians such as Bessel (who wrote ‘The Body Keeps the Score’), would be key components to one’s healing process as well.

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