I am looking for a literary name of the following common psychological phenomenon, its nomenclature:

When someone is accused of something, i.e. prostitution or murder, after a while the person no longer fights it back but instead turns into a character suitable with the accusations, although he/she was innocent.

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    Hi and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. This is a site where you can ask questions about a wide range of literary topics, but finding the name of a psychological phenomenon is outside the scope of this site. I recommend that you ask this type of question on Psychology & Neuroscience Stack Exchange.
    – Tsundoku
    Jul 4, 2020 at 14:55
  • thank you for your recommendation. I guess exemplification request part of the question seems legit to ask here?
    – b.g.
    Jul 4, 2020 at 14:58
  • Hmm... I wonder if there's a similar literary term. Jul 4, 2020 at 16:17
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    I’m voting to close this question because it is not about literature but about psychology terminology.
    – bobble
    Sep 5, 2021 at 19:17
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    Psychological jargon and literary jargon may overlap and it may differ, often because of a difference in theoretical frame. In particular, the "Shylock moment" of deciding to be a villain seems more driven by the logic of drama than everyday psychology.
    – Adam Burke
    Sep 6, 2021 at 0:52

1 Answer 1


I'm not certain if it's exactly what you're looking for, but the TV Tropes site, which attempts to catalog tropes in various forms of media, calls this Then Let Me Be Evil.

Sometimes the supposed "forces of good" in a story treat an "evil" character badly enough, for long enough, that the "evil" character just gives up trying to show the heroes that they are not evil and becomes a villain for real. Prolonged exposure to the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism has conditioned this character to accept the fact that Humans Are the Real Monsters, and if they want to get anywhere in life, they have to be every bit as dirty and cruel as they are.


In some cases, a genuinely innocent person being repeatedly framed up for committing things they never did into a stage where they have no chance to redeem themselves might as well become exactly what they are being framed as and repay their favors onto everyone.

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