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We only buy into what we can sell

We only want to protect you from yourself
—"Control" by MDFMK

All too often, when someone is forced to do something they don't want to do, they will be told, "It's for your own good!" This will usually be said by a parent. Other variations may include "We're doing this because we love you" or "We're doing this because we care". Often Truth in Television.

It can also be used by someone (usually an adult) justifying why they did something to someone (usually a child), especially when the child thinks it was wrong. Of course, the child is almost always right.

In some works this might be Played for Laughs during an intervention. Compare Cruel to Be Kind when this is something undesirable that really is for the person's own good.

One might feel tempted to scream back with "Then stop caring about me so much!"

Examples of For Your Own Good include:


Anime & Manga

  • A whole lot of abusive parents in manga and anime eventually break down sobbing and explaining that it was all, in some brain-twisty way, for the child's own good and they actually care. They are almost without exception immediately forgiven. Even when what they did was hideous and illogical and ineffective and the kid will clearly be dealing with it for the rest of his or her life.
    • If they don't cry, the chance of this (forgiveness) is much lower. See Charles vi Britannia for detailed example.
  • In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist anime, this is basically Hohenheim's excuse for leaving his family: because of his immortality, his body is slowly rotting away and he didn't want his family finding out. There's also the matter of Dante and the Homonculi keeping tabs on him.
  • In Ranma 1/2 the main characters encounter an oni fond of possessing people and making them do evil things. They're then informed that the only way to exercise the oni was to beat it out of the possessed person. Or as the monk who informed them put it. "strike a loved one for their own good." Ranma has no problem whatsoever in doing this when Genma and Kuno get possessed. But then Kasumi gets possessed and nobody could bring themselves to hit her. (Especially since her dad threatened anybody who so much as considered it.)

Film

  • This is why Megan's parents send her to a "straight camp" in But I'm a Cheerleader.
  • In Cool Hand Luke, when the title character is captured after his first escape attempt and fit into chains before the other inmates, the Captain loudly informs Luke, and the prison at large, how the chains will remind him not to try and escape, ending with "For yer own good." Luke dryly replies "I wish you'd stop being so good to me, Captain."
  • In Heavenly Creatures, Juliet has been repeatedly abandoned by her parents or taken from places and people she loves "for the good of her health." At one point she snaps "They sent me to the Bahamas for the good of my health. They sent me to the Bay of bloody Islands for the good of my health!" Finally, when she is told she's to be separated from her heart's companion Pauline and sent to South Africa with relatives "for the good of your health", she lets out a bloodcurdling scream.
  • In Shrek 2, Fiona seems to think this is why her parents locked her in the tower.
  • Dueling Movies Despicable Me and Megamind would have The Dragon this as an excuse to stop the Villain Protagonist from doing something that would distract them.
  • V for Vendetta (film version): Norsefire's Secret Police, the Fingermen, regularly arrest non-caucasions, dissenters and homosexuals, and send them to internment camps or execution...and all of their vans have "For Your Protection" written on the back.

Literature

  • The only really valid reason for Harry's return to his ridiculously unfit guardians every summer was that pesky blood-protection bit Dumbledore thought so much of. 'Twas for his own good, but only in the most basic-survival sort of way.
  • In Twilight, a rather large portion of Edward's actions are for what he considers Bella's own good, whether or not she agrees--though she usually does. These actions include following her without her consent, breaking into her room every night to watch her, forcing her to flee Forks when James hunts her, leaving her in New Moon because she might be killed if she stays with him, stealing her car engine so she can't visit Jacob, etc. The list goes on, right to the end of the series.

Music

  • An indirect version in the song Sooner or Later: "We only want what's best for you, that's why we tell you what to do."
  • MDFMK song "Control" mentions this among the rest of dystopian features.

Newspaper Comics

  • Calvin's father in Calvin and Hobbes often tells his precocious son that various unpleasant activities "build character".
    • "Pretty convenient how every time I build character, he saves a couple hundred bucks."

Professional Wrestling

  • The whole in-character idea behind WWE's Right To Censor stable, even invoked by name by the leader, Steven Richards. Out of character, it was a pretty blatant Take That against the Parents Television Council.

Tabletop Games

  • A near-catchphrase of the Tau Empire in Warhammer 40000, along with For The Greater Good, to justify all sorts of things. And these are the wide-eyed idealists of the setting.
    • The Imperial Guard actually have a rule called "For Your Own Good", where a Psyker that comes under psychic assault while using their powers is summarily killed as a precaution if a Commissar is in the squad.
  • In Mystara when Alphatian point of view is voiced, they are resentful over lack of appreciation "barbarians" of Thyatians show for conquering and enslaving patronizing and "educating" them, and "perverting our techings" (not becoming The Magocracy too after eventually kicking Alphatians out).

Video Games

Real Life

  • Dr. Alice Miller's book on cruelty in the name of discipline is called At the Beginning of Education in the original German, but is known as For Your Own Good in its English translation.
  • For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women, by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, talks about American medical, psychological, and childbearing "help" and advice that did great harm to women although the experts insisted it was meant for their own good. (Such as clitoredectomy, to name just one unfortunate idea.)
  • "Chief, don't you be my benefactor" was an old adage in Soviet prisons. Lev Gumilev -- who was there in Stalin's era -- used more than one opportunity to quote it in the context of politics in his history books.
  • As is already mentioned here about But I'm a Cheerleader, many parents take their homo/bi/pansexual and/or transgender children to "straight camps" or other places (such as private clinics or hospitals) to cure them of their "homosexual feelings" for this reason.
  • Parents of deaf children will often have them fitted with cochlear implants at a very young age, a practice that is controversial among the Deaf community for multiple reasons.

Western Animation

  • In the original Transformers cartoon, Omega Supreme tries to undo the brainwashing done to his enemy, Devastator, using this phrase in the process. Devastator throws the phrase back into his face during a later fight.
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