zellieh (zellieh) wrote in little_details,

Child raised by family of bigots/political extremists/terrorists, then rejects them

Setting: contemporary Britain, slightly fantasy AU featuring magical races, and bigotry against them.

I need to know what it's like for a child/teenager to be raised by loving parents who are also bigoted political extremists/terrorists, who then raise their children to share their bigoted racist beliefs. Specifically, I want to know what it's like to grow up and realise that your parents beliefs are wrong and dangerous, and then reject those beliefs, and partially or completely reject your parents and your friends who share the same extremely bigoted worldview. What would trigger a decision like that? What's the process of rejection? What's the emotional fallout?

I have a teenaged character who needs to reject his loving (to him) family's extremist beliefs and change sides as a key plot point, but I can't quite get my head around his motivations for abandoning a belief system that he's been raised with and brainwashed into, especially when that means going against his family and a number of his friends who've always treated him well, even if they are complete bastards to the victims of their bigotry.

This boy has believed the racist indoctrination he got from his parents, friends, and other people around him well enough to become a bully at his school, and he's been raised in a very sheltered environment with a carefully-chosen circle of (also extremist) friends. These beliefs are also considered somewhat socially acceptable as long as they are carefully phrased in public, so the boy doesn't realise how offensive & extreme his parents' bigotry really is until he gets old enough to have some critical thinking skills as a teenager, and really look at what's happening around him.

His parents have also been raised with this sort of bigotry, and they've joined a group of like-minded extremists led by a charismatic leader, so although it's a purely political movement, there are cult-like aspects to the situation as well. The boy was raised to believe that he would also join this group of bigots, and was looking forward to it. When he did join up & swear allegiance, he was proud of it, and so were his parents. Then he had to get involved with the actual violence, was told more about the leader's plans, spent more time with the other adults in the group and got a better idea of what they were really doing, and that's when he began to have doubts and want to leave the group.

I'd like to know more about being raised in a sort of toxic environment by a family that isn't abusive to you personally, but openly promotes and praises abuse of others. What does that do to a child/teenager's psychology and development?

I'd also like to know how the process of rejecting such bigoted beliefs would work: is there a moment of truth, or a gradual rejection process? Is he likely to completely reject the entire package of beliefs, or will he only reject part of it? Is there a particular age or developmental stage at which a teenager will reject their parents? Do children who reject this sort of bigotry (or parents who get rejected) have particular traits in common? Will he ignore politics completely, end up with a moderate position, or will he go to the other extreme? Is he likely to end up violently opposing his parents and everything they stand for? Would he grieve for what he's lost, or be happy to be free of it?

(As you can see, I'm confused about what's going on in this character's head. ::headdesk::)

Searchwords used: various combinations of:
survivalists, cults, religious cults, child psychology, child development, teenagers, juveniles, extremists, racists, terrorists, bigots, brainwashing, raised in a cult, leaving a cult, deprogramming, brainwashing, political extremism, political terrorism, controlling parents, abusive parents, psychological abuse of a child, etc.

I've found a few bits and pieces, but I still don't feel like I really understand this character. The problem seems to be that I either get too specific and get no results at all, or I get loads of general results about adults and converts (especially about religious cults & religious terrorists) that aren't what I'm looking for.

I'm willing to accept anything: links, news articles, academic papers, memoirs, histories, personal anecdotes; anything. I just have a mental block on this character's motivations, so any help you can give me would be great. Thanks!
Tags: ~psychology & psychiatry (misc), ~terrorism

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