Huey: This isn't an exorcism — it's a beating.Oh, no! Your best friend has been entranced by Pazuzu! Bummer! No need to call any specialists, though; just pull up your sleeves and you can deal with this yourself. In many works of fiction, the best way to free a possessed or cursed person is to simply beat the crap out of them. You won't need to worry about hurting your friend, either; it's just the curse/demon you're punching, not them. Once you punch them into unconsciousness, they should wake up perfectly fine (albeit probably with a massive headache). You better believe a Badass Preacher is going to do this. Holy Burns Evil, right? So the fists of a holy man or woman should be sufficient to free the victim. This is especially common in Video Games where combat is the standard reaction to anything anyway, and can result in making a new friend or getting a new player character. This comes up a lot in stories with a villain with a Dark and Troubled Past or a Freudian Excuse—it turns out their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, or somebody thought they were evil/cursed/possessed and tried to beat the evil out of them, or to prevent them from becoming evil (which is precisely what made them evil). Compare: Get A Hold Of Yourself Man, Dying as Yourself (If the curse dies, but so does the cursee), and "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight for when the battle is with words. See also Defeat Means Friendship for when the enemy isn't cursed or possessed, just opposed to the hero for personal reasons. Mostly unrelated to Hollywood Exorcism.
Uncle Ruckus: Sometimes there is very little difference.
Uncle Ruckus: Sometimes there is very little difference.
— The Boondocks, "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back"
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Anime & Manga
- Fushigi Yuugi. Tamahome is mind-controlled and the spell is powered by his Life Force. Thus it fails when he is beaten within inch of his life.
- In the Soul Eater anime's penultimate battle, Maka uses her scythe's Genie Hunter to reap Medusa right out of the body she's possessing without harming the little girl.
- In Ranma ½, Maomolin (the giant ghost cat also called Bakeneko) possesses Ranma's father Genma to avoid getting beat up. However, while Ranma has a paralyzing fear of cats, he has no problems whatsoever beating the crap out of his father. The ghost cat screams at him about what kind of son he is to do that to his own father and flees to possess someone else.
- This also is a plot point in the "Evil Oni" storyline in the manga and OVA. An Oni gets released, possessing a number of characters. The Oni will vacate the body when the body is punched in the head. Ranma has no problem popping his dad, Kuno, the Priest and Ryoga in the head, but Kasumi...?
- In all Yu-Gi-Oh! series, the standard cure for Mind Control is "beat them in a duel." (Success may vary based on controller's power and controllee's vulnerability.)
- InuYasha: Miroku does this in episode 132 to the possessed village women and Sango. It's less extreme than most examples; it only amounts to him attaching Paper Talismans to either the women or his fist and then punching them in the gut, forcing them to cough up the baby salamander demons that were controlling them.
- In Kill la Kill, when Ryuko goes berserk and turns into a monster, Mako punches her until she goes back to normal... then keeps punching her.
Ryuko: I'm *SLAP* back *SLAP* to *SLAP* normal! *SLAP*
- In Drifters, Shimazu Toyohisa gets into a brutal fistfight with Jeanne d'Arc, until both fall into a well. Being submerged in water kills Jeanne's pyrokinesis and makes her bloodlust fade for a bit, allowing her to think critically for a few moments. Toyohisa ruins it and just knocks Jeanne out, finding no honor in killing a woman.
- When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace had Mirei (a Power Parasite) getting possessed and stealing super-powers, including one that burns up your own body and never stops. The pain was enough that the mysterious possessor released her, which meant she was suddenly dealing with the problem.
- In Anatolia Story, the only way to cure someone possessed by Queen Nakia's magic waters is to hit them in the stomach hard enough that they puke it up. Just about everyone who undergoes this does react in pain when they wake up. The ends up being very unfortunate for poor Prince Juda, who is fed so much of his mother's mind-controlling water that he has to undergo a particularly brutal beatdown from Ilbani before he coughs it all up.
- It occasionally shows up in Sailor Moon
- In the first story arc, Sailor Moon isn't able to free Mamoru from Beryl's brainwashing with gentler methods, so she eventually realizes that the only way to stop him is to stab him with her sword. Upon killing him and stabbing herself in grief, she awakens to find that both of them survived and Mamoru is now free of the mind control.
- An unusual variant occurs in the Infinity College arc. Hotaru Tomoe is possessed by Mistress 9, who is so powerful that none of the senshi attacks so much as slow her down. What defeats her in the end is when Hotaru herself beats (or rather, burns) Mistress 9 out of her from within, causing the alien to explode and reveal Hotaru as the newly-awoken Sailor Saturn.
- In the anime, Sailor Moon had a special attack just for purifying the victims of the Monster of the Week. While the attack was not meant to be harmful, the monster would usually scream and writhe before turning back to normal.
- Horribly, horribly subverted in the final manga arc. Sailor Moon finds all of her dead friends resurrected under the power of Galaxia, causing them to happily try to kill her. While she initially is unable to face the idea of fighting them (watching them die already did a number on her sanity), she finally accepts that it's the only way and attacks. They all turn to dust and have their star seeds re-stolen by Galaxia before they can turn back to normal. Although if one argues that their subsequent appearance in the Cauldron, where they're back to normal counts as a part of it, it's played straight after all.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS has two separate instances of this (the second one had an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight mixed in for good measure). First, Subaru used a point-blank Divine Buster to remove her sister's brainwashing. Then, Nanoha used five Starlight Breakers to free her daughter from the Saint's Cradle's control.
- In Digimon Frontier, dealing a 'mon enough damage causes their data to be revealed in the form of a glowing ring of barcode-lines, which can be taken away, costing the loser power-ups, but also purifying victims of The Corruption.note A lot of villains, all the way up to the Big Bad for the first half of the series, once he regenerates, are much friendlier after a sound thrashing made them able to be purified.
- Underground Comics author Frank Stack did a series of comics starring Jesus. One strip has a man approach him with his demon-possessed brother (who just looks like a babbling fool) - Jesus tells him the only way to get them out is to make it uncomfortable for them, giving the poor guy a good whopping. Finally with one good kick the tiny demons jump out of the guy's mouth, crying "every man for himself!" Jesus grabs one and tries to get him to talk, and then tosses him to a hungry dog.
Films — Animation
- In Justice League vs. Teen Titans, if you don't have the Lasso of Truth or an appropriate spell, the best way to get Trigon's spirits to leave their hosts is to poison or injure their host bodies.
Films — Live-Action
- Done in the Turkish Exorcist knockoff Seytan - yeah, it's real - when Turkish Father Damien finally rids Turkish Reagan of her possession by Turkish Pazuzu simply by beating the crap out of her Turkish face.
- In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy gets mind-controlled by the Thuggee, and is brought out of it when Short Round burns him with a torch.
- In The Avengers, a solid blow to the head seems to reverse the mind control caused by Loki's staff, at least in the cases of Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig. Black Widow, not wanting to take the risk that the trope isn't in effect, punches Hawkeye out just to be safe.
Black Widow: Cognitive recalibration. I hit your head really hard.
- In Ghostbusters (2016), Patty manages to free Abby from being possessed by bitch-slapping her. "The power of Patty compels you!"
- Averted in Fablehaven: Tanu the potion master knows that using this trope on Berrigan would cause physical harm, so he uses a potion that causes hallucinations of excruciating pain, which doesn't actually hurt Berrigan.
- In the not so acclaimed novelisation of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Irenicus turns Imoen into a monster to attack the elves. The monster's form breaks free from under her skin. It's all right, though, because all the protagonist Abdel Adrian needs to do to free her is tear the monster apart, because obviously she would be intact inside the monster that burst out from inside her.
- In the Katharine Kerr novel Snare, Zayn's father beat him regularly to try to purge him of his demon power (Photographic Memory). It isn't until the epilogue that Zayn learns that his father consulted dozens of Mullahs before doing that, and only went with the advice of the one who suggested beating him because all the other Mullahs wanted Zayn's father to kill him instead, and the man was desperate to find a way to 'purify' his son without murdering him.
- In Unseen Academicals Dr. Hix is the only one who dares to try this when Ridcully is under the control of a whistle possessed by Evans the Striped, former sports-master of Unseen University.
- In Monte Cassino, Sven Hassel's fellow soldiers beat him up after he suffers shell shock in the middle of a battlefield. This is regarded as standard procedure to stop someone going permanently crazy.
- In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (and all following series), this was typically the way to free people who had been turned into the Monster of the Week by the Big Bad's evil spells (and thankfully so, otherwise the Rangers would have unwittingly killed Kat). When the transformation had been done by means other than a direct spell the Rangers had to seek alternate cures.
- It is established early on that a near-death experience will break nearly any form of brainwashing. This method is risky, however, since the brainwashee must be brought quite literally to the edge of death, so there's a very real chance that they will die in the process.
- Rya'c is cured of brainwashing in Stargate SG-1 by shooting him with a zat gun. Zats usually just knock a person out, but since Rya'c was a child, the effect was more severe, enough to break the brainwashing.
- Teal'c is similarly cured of brainwashing, though it takes more effort since, as a battle-hardened badass from a society of warriors, he can resist quite a lot of punishment. They do so by removing his Goa'uld larva (which functions as his immune system), and just letting the resulting sickness take its course.
- In Stargate Universe, the idea is revisited when Colonel Young locks a brainwashed Colonel Telford in a room and vents the oxygen until he's virtually dead in order to undo the process.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer naturally — when a demon Giles and his friends summoned up in their youth possesses Ms. Calendar, Angel strangles her until the demon jumps to another body - Angel's, it turns out, where it's destroyed by his own inner demon.
- In Hemlock Grove, if a werewolf transforms too many times without a full moon, they risk losing their minds and becoming feral beasts unable to change back into a human. Unfortunately, circumstances force Peter to transform several times, until the last time ends with him advancing on his vampire friend Roman and their love interest. How does Roman deal with this? He grabs Peter by the jaw, rips his head apart, reaches down past his gullet and pulls out Peter's human body. While it's weird that a werewolf transformation would work like that, it's still pretty cool.
Myths & Religion
- Many exorcism rituals involve physical abuse.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum. When Poison Ivy takes over the guards, you just beat the everloving crap out of them. Though to be honest, this is more of a "I'll beat you unconscious so you don't try to kill me while I deal with that gigantic plant over there" kind of deal.
- In RPGs, attacking one's own teammate is usually the quickest way to cure Charm or Confuse status.
- Warcraft III provides such an example for the "Sleep" effect - this effect renders a unit standing dead still unable to useless to attack enemies or use abilities for a potentially very punishingly-long duration. However, the effect is canceled by the unit being attacked, so the way to deal with it when you don't have other methods to dispel the effect (or want to keep them in reserve for another situation) is to get another unit to attack the sleeping one once.
- Wrexsoul in Final Fantasy VI brings this to a different level. To start, the boss will "possess" one of your party members at random. There is no way to tell which party member is possessed (because the party member in question will continue to attack and behave normally), and there is no way to damage the boss until the party member who is possessed by Wrexsoul dies, when the boss then rematerializes and becomes available to attack. Expect to repeat this process multiple times... unless you decide to take the easy route and just X-Zone/Banish the Soul Savers. But going this route costs you a fairly useful item drop.
- This is one of the methods you can do to Adelle in Final Fantasy Tactics A2. The other method is to keep talking until the person returns to normal.
- This is the standard method for dealing with the "Confuse" side-effect in almost any Final Fantasy game, hit the affected character with a physical attack in order to regain control of them. Can become dangerous if/when your party members are high enough level to start killing each other in one or two physical strikes.
- A variation in Dragon Quest VIII - The best and only permanent way to get rid of curses in the setting is to beat the crap out of the person who placed the curse. King Trode and Medea's curse not being lifted after Dhoulmagus gets his ass handed to him is the party's first clue that he's not the real Big Bad of this storyYou also beat a powerful curse out of one of your own party members.
- In EarthBound, most humans and animals that you fight are "turned back to normal" after you defeat them. This is because they're being influenced by Giygas, and thus a solid beating makes him let go.
- The Legend of Zelda, full stop. Anything affected by dark magic, up to and including Princess Zelda herself, can be fixed with a good butt-whupping. There's only one subversion in Oracle of Ages, where you can't attack Veran when she's possessing someone because doing so would supposedly only hurt her host. Defeating Veran when she's possessing Nayru and later, Queen Ambi requires shooting Mystery Seeds at her and to remove Veran's spirit from her body, and then switching places with Veran to attack her before she can repossess her host.
- In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby needs to do this to free Waddle Dee, Adeleine, and King Dedede from Dark Matter.
- In Chrono Cross, the Porre military has used a cursed fruit to bring out Orcha's evil nature. As soon as you beat him, he immediately regains normality.
- In Penny Arcade Adventures, characters can get brainwashed and attack their own team. Either you wait until they're damaged, or hit them yourself—they take far less damage and are cured instantly.
- In Disgaea 4, the repentant former Big Bad Nemo gets corrupted by the power of Fear The Great, which he had (unintentionally) tapped into for the final episode, forcing Valvatorez and company to beat some sense into him for the very final battle... Well, the final battle for the normal/best ending, anyway.
- In Donkey Kong Country Returns, when a boss character is possessed by a Tiki the only way to release it is to defeat the boss in battle.
- At the end of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, when Peach is possessed by the Shadow Queen's spirit, the only way to free her is to lay out a massive beatdown. It's not an easy task.
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga before you meet Prince Peasley you fight him as a dragon who was previously trapped in an egg that Blablanadon was incubating.
- In Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, you can save people who have turned into Symbiote Zombies... by hitting them a lot. Apparently, you can knock the symbiote off of them with long enough combos. (This has the added bonus of making it easier to "cure" people if you're playing as "Normal" Spider-Man, since he's got longer combos — his "Black Suit" version focuses more on huge area-effect attacks and powerful blows.)note
- In the first Metal Gear Solid, Psycho Mantis mind controls Snake's love interest to force her to commit suicide (its a Game Over if she succeeds) with her pistol. To prevent this you need to deal enough non lethal damage (with punches, tranquilizer darts (in Twin Snakes only) or stun grenades) to knock her out (complicated by the fact that she wakes up every so often).
- At the end of the recent Mythsong saga in AdventureQuest Worlds, you do this to the sixth Lord of Chaos, who turns out not to be Discordia, but Kimberly of One Eyed Doll, the special guest of the big Friday event, in order to get Drakath's mind-controlling Ear Worm out of her head.
- Interesting variation: in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the villains use "shadow bugs" mined from Mr. Game & Watch to create evil, purple-tinted versions of some of the heroes, like Peach and Diddy Kong. Most of the time, the real hero is trapped in trophy form and can't be brought back to life until the cursed version is defeated. However, it is possible for Diddy to fight his own Evil Twin, and at one point, Bowser does this to himself so he can be in two places at once.
- Suberted in Resident Evil 5: at one point you are attacked by former partner Jill Valentine, who is under the influence of a mind control device (which is attached to the chest, naturally). Administering a beating is a bad idea, since if you do too much damage to her, you'll accidentally kill her. Instead, you have to work with your partner to hold her still while one of you tries to pry off the device.
- Variation of this trope in Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour: When Joey Wheeler gets possessed, you have to tie him in a card battle.
- In Ar tonelico, how do we confine I.P.Ds? Blast them apart! This is strange when you use 100 Replekia amplification and the ultimate song magic, that's Overkill.
- World of Warcraft includes this at least once each expansion.
- In Throne of the Tides (Cataclysm) you face off against Erunak Stonespeaker, a shaman who saved your life multiple times throughout the preceding storyline who is being controlled by a Face Hugger. After knocking him to half health, the boss himself becomes attackable (though he may jump onto one of your own party members during the fight.)
- In Ulduar (Wrath of the Lich King) you must fight the four Titan Keepers — Freya, Thorim, Hodir, and Mimiron. Wait, aren't they good guys? Well, yes, but they're being mind-controlled by Yogg-Saron, Old God of insanity and death. (Mostly insanity.) Punching them sufficiently will cure the mind-control; once they reach 1% health they turn friendly and will help you in your battle against Yogg-Saron.
- In the Sunwell (Burning Crusade,) you must fight against Kalecgos, a blue dragon who till now has always been one of the good guys. While you battle his body in the real world, you also get a chance to go inside his mind and punch out the evil forces enslaving him.
- In Mists of Pandaria, reluctant zombie Lilian Voss has become a Death Knight who hunts down necromancers. Can you see the logical conclusion of a zombie trying to take down a magician who specializes in controlling zombies? Anyway, after you beat her up enough she breaks free of his control and helps you take out the Big Bad.
- In Girls Love Visual Novel Aoi Shiro, the fastest way to free someone from the <<Sword>>'s influence is by beating the crap out of her —lethally, even, in case of Kaya at the end of Migiwa Route.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, you do this to Bann Teagan to free him from a demon's mind control. Which is kinda startling given that going with the Darker and Edgier nature of the setting, fighting mind-controlled people usually means having to kill them.
- The Legacy expansion of Dragon Age II features the party storming the prison of ancient Darkspawn Corypheus. If your party includes "ex"-Grey Warden Anders, he starts hearing voices as Corypheus communicates through the darkspawn taint in his blood. He eventually becomes a mini-boss fight, after which he manages to resist for the rest of the DLC. Since Anders is also sharing a body with a hacked-off spirit of Justice, it's unclear which part of him you're fighting.
- In both games, you have the option to go into the Fade with your companions to defeat a demon. Origins has you rescue your companions from their nightmares, where they can either cower uselessly in terror or join you in fighting themselves free, but 2 has every single companion (save for Anders, who's protected by Justice, and Sebastian, who refuses to go into the Fade in the first place) turn on you at a demon's urging. The result is Beat The Curse Out Of Them until they 'die' (drop out of the Fade and back into the real world)—and if you've been carefully building your companions' stats, abilities, and gears, it will not be fun.
- In Sonic Adventure, both the game and the Archie Comics adaptation, Super Sonic defeats Perfect Chaos this way. The comics have him used this method again against a cursed Knuckles, even going so far as to compare it to the previous Perfect Chaos example as "beat[ing] the evil out of you."
- In Golden Axe III, you choose one or two of four available characters, the rest will become level bosses wich you have to beat. They're said to have been cursed by Death Adder, and once you beat them, they become normal again. They won't join you, though, since we're in a Beat 'em Up, not a Role-Playing Game.
- Mega Man X
- Cynder from The Legend of Spyro series was a dragoness the same age as the titular hero, only for the series Big Bad to corrupt her with his dark powers, causing her to unnaturally grow to her adult size. Fortunately, upon being defeated by Spyro, her mind was released from the dark spell and she returned to her normal age, upon afterwards, she spent the remainder of the series becoming friends with Spyro and eventually falling in love with him.
- In The Crooked Man, at one point David, the player character, gets possessed and is being compelled to shoot himself. And then David's best friend comes to save him. You are given three options, one of them being to punch David. It's the only option that's any good; the other two lead to bad endings.
- In Rayman Origins, four kings (As well as the last nymph, Fée de la Mort) have been turned into huge monstrosities, and it is Rayman's job to beat the crap out of them in order to return them to normal.
- In Tales of Vesperia, Estelle is Brainwashed and Crazy by Alexei, so it's up to Yuri to free her by beating her senseless.
- In Tales of Rebirth, Veigue's heart is troubled and thus his Force starts going out of control. His friends beat him up to drive him out of his frenzy, then not even a day later Tytree beats the crap out of him to break him out of his angsting and finish the job.
- Subverted at first in BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma. In her arcade path, Makoto tries to beat some sense into the Brainwashed and Crazy Tsubaki. Two battles later, Tsubaki escapes control, but is quickly overcome again, and only the local Time Crash prevents the confrontation from escalating into a full-blown deathmatch.
- The "at first" is because the trope is played with later. In the story path, Makoto tries again with Noel and Jin at her side. Makoto doesn't succeed in directly neutralizing the curse, but that wasn't Jin's plan in the first place; with Tsubaki's strength exhausted and Izanami unable to intervene due to the Eclipse Field, Noel could observe the Zero-Type for Tsubaki to grasp and control on her own terms. Jin pushes her to the point where she has to use the Immortal Breaker technique or risk dying, except Jin stops trying to fight so he doesn't kill her. The attack fails because [A] the Immortal Breaker is only meant to destroy entities outside of logic (Jin's power of order is tied to the world's logic, which makes him immune) and [B] Jin was forcing a Sadistic Choice on Tsubaki to see if her love for true justice and Jin is greater than her devotion to then-Imperator Izanami. In the end, it's less "beat the curse out of her" and more "beat the curse so she can break it herself".
- In a separate incident in Continuum Shift, Makoto runs into Noel in Arcade mode after Terumi stuck his mental dick in her, and proceeds to the percussive maintenance stage to break her out of the resulting trance. She succeeds... and then Terumi shows up and drags her away.
- In the fourth game in the Morgash Chronicles series (... yes, it's real), the final boss is a hypnotized George H. W. Bush. The Dragon and Ronian the Druid decide to just shoot lightning and/or fire at him until he recovers, while he fights back with attacks based on soundbites from his speeches ("Thousand points of light", "no new axes", and "the Pledge of Allegiance"). It works, though the un-hypnotized Bush decides it "wouldn't be prudent" to reward them. (Yes, this game is real! Really!)
- Near the end of Dragon Ball Xenoverse, the Big Bad Demigra uses his mind-control magic to turn several of the Z-Fighters against your character. For the most part it falls under the heading of "Knock them unconscious so they can't kill me", but when the heroes start reacting after you beat them up, it quickly becomes this trope. During the marathon Final Battle, Time Patrol Trunks is himself mind-controlled, and resists the control long enough to encourage you to hit him more since it's helping him break free.
- In Kero Blaster, the frog salaryman protagonist ends up having to do this to his boss.
- In The Adventures of Lomax, most of the Mooks are Lemmings turned into evil monsters by Evil Ed. "Killing" said mooks turns them back into normal Lemmings that run away and escape the screen.
- Golden Sun has Tret the Holy Tree, who's been driven to mad Unstoppable Rage due to Psynergy Stones falling from the sky. Only when Isaac and his friends hand him his ass does he return to his senses.
- In Red vs. Blue, AI can Body Surf by jumping between hosts via their radios; they can also control their hosts, making them highly dangerous as a result when they get malevolent, as Omega was. One of the ways that an AI could be removed from the host was knocking them out. Thus, Tex punching people in the face quickly became the expedient way to force the AI out, usually because Tex didn't have the patience for the less violent alternatives. That and it's funny.
- Destroy the Godmodder: When Minor was turned evil in the first thread, the players helped him out by attacking him until he was cured.
- In The Powerpuff Girls, Him turned the entire town evil and all attempts to resolve the matter peacefully failed... until the girl beat the tar out of the Townsville citizens. The girls convinced themselves the Brainwashed and Crazy Townsvillians actually were not their loved ones (Since, as the heroes of Townsville, everyone adored the girls). The curse only breaks after the girls beat the tar out of Him and force him to retreat.
- This happened once, indirectly, in Code Lyoko. XANA had possessed Aelita, but needed her alive as much as the children did. To coerce XANA into releasing her, Odd shot at her repeatedly until she was an inch away from dying, at which point he surrendered.
- Note that XANA's process of extracting what he wanted from her would kill her, so the kids had nothing to lose by threatening to kill her themselves.
- One episode of Dexter's Laboratory has Dexter's family infected by alien parasites. Dexter is forced to equip his Powered Armor to beat up his family until the parasites abandon ship, after which Dexter immediately stomps the aliens flat. Afterwards his family members don't recall any of what happened, though they don't feel particularly well after the beating they received. "This flu stuff hits you hard..."
- If Danny Phantom fires a ray of ectoplasm at a person possessed by a ghost, it pushes it out, leaving the person unharmed. If it turns out that person was Not Brainwashed, however, it does hurt.
- During the "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back" episode of The Boondocks, Uncle Ruckus' attempt to exorcise Colonel Stinkmeaner from Tom's body was to strap him to a bed and beat him while repeating the phrase "Nigga, get your black ass outta here!" The actual solution was the exact opposite (get Stinkmeaner to agree with someone, in this case Ruckus).
- Truth in Television, at one point in history. See, elves weren't always nice creatures - actually for most of history they were downright evil. Changeling Fantasy was not about being super-awesome because you were really the fairy king's daughter when people actually believed in it. Kids with birth defects or mentally challenged or autistic children were thought to be elf children, and the elves had taken your normal, beautiful child away from you and replaced it with their ugly, stupid one. Beating these supposed elf children — sometimes to the point that they died — was standard practice, because this was thought to be the only way to convince the elves to give you your normal child back.