A Danger to Themselves and Others--Until
December 10, 2021 4:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for stories like this: "I have to stay in (prison, or church, or toxic family)...because we all know if I get out again, I'll revert to the same behaviors again." But then they don't! They overcome. Or something changed and the same old outcomes are different now. Books, films, comics, lyrics welcome. From known & feared apex-predator chaos agent to new baseline of ethical conscientiousness, even if by circuitous route. Fiction, non-fiction, both OK.

Context: This was inspired by a moment in a recent podcast video in which a pastor basically said--if I leave my belief in God behind, I guarantee you: Here's the destructive life I'll instantly go back to. I would like to be able to understand a variety of perspectives on this kind of question or dilemma. Thanks!
posted by circular to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You might find it interesting to look into the life of a man named "Tookie" (Stanley) Williams. His life has been covered in a film and he wrote a few books.
posted by effluvia at 5:47 PM on December 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not sure if this counts, but: The episode “Family” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 has Tara’s family coming to collect her from college and take her home before her demonic heritage manifests. Turns out the whole “demonic heritage” thing is a lie the patriarchs of the family used to keep the women submissive, and once that’s exposed, Tara escapes the toxic situation to continue her normal yet heroic college life.
posted by ejs at 9:11 PM on December 10, 2021

Best answer: The latest post in the "Joe vs Elan School" comic had the text "I was [...] told every single day that the second I left, I was one wrong decision away from being a criminal again."

The whole autobiographical webcomic is still in progress, but it has further examples of what you asked for in your post in previous pages. Starting page is here if you're interested!
posted by neda at 5:43 AM on December 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Statements similar to that have come up in a bunch of other Mormon Stories podcasts, but they're mostly from people who grew up as "good kids" who had been convinced they'd "go bad" if they left the faith, and then found out different. Here, for example, is a former Mormon realizing that sex doesn't actually make you completely lose control. Later in the podcast she talks about having the same realization with alcohol.

I've seen similar statements in ex-Jehovah's Witness podcasts. Occasionally there'll be something like, "I have an uncle who's staying in because he thinks he'll descend back into a life of crime if he leaves," but I'm having trouble finding examples right now. I believe I've seen them on the channel of JT and Lady Cee.
posted by clawsoon at 9:27 AM on December 11, 2021

Best answer: This may be aiming a cannon at a mosquito, but tvtropes.org would offer you:
. The Heel-Face Turn, and
. Reformed, but Not Tamed, and likely many others.

There are hellabytes of examples and subtle distinctions being made in the linked pages from those two, but that's where I'd start.

Good luck, it sounds like an interesting search!
posted by adekllny at 10:02 AM on December 11, 2021

Best answer: I quite enjoyed Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘Gifts’:

From Wikipedia (mild spoilers): “The story is set in a fictional world, in a barren and poverty-stricken region called the Uplands, some of whose inhabitants have hereditary magical gifts. The story follows the narrator Orrec, son of the leader of the domain of Caspromant, whose hereditary gift is the ability to "unmake"…Orrec's gift manifests late, and seems uncontrollable, and so he is blindfolded.”
posted by soy bean at 10:04 AM on December 11, 2021

Best answer: I will offer my hero: Twilight Sparkle. She was directed by Princess Celestia to leave her lonely tower of books to move to Ponyville. It drove her crazy! What is the deal with these ponies?!! Dammit, Spike! Stop partying with them! But, in time, Twilight became the Princess of Friendship.

I will also call out Sunset Shimmer. She was the worst, literally a raging she-demon, trapped by her own behavior. But she made the choice to set aside her old ways, as hard as that was, and accept friendship.

Twilight and Sunset were imprisoned by their old lives, but they broke free. And that is an encouraging story.
posted by SPrintF at 12:47 PM on December 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, those are really thoughtful answers and I am grateful to have a bunch of resources to explore. Thanks everybody.
posted by circular at 4:15 PM on December 11, 2021

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