I find myself wishing for a single word to express this concept.
I sometimes refer to the concept while reading. I think: “this book has insight through horribleness.” It requires a certain twisted perceptiveness on the part of the author, but to be sure the author is not usually writing truth.
It differs from “insight through analysis,” “insight through description,” and related concepts. I am never sure if I should report on books which offer insight through horribleness. Jack Henry Abbott is a (dead) author who has insight through horribleness.
Is there a word for this? Sort of an anti-catharsis, whereby insight or clarity is achieved through tragedy or disaster? The moment Hamlet realizes his uncle was behind his father’s murder; Raskolnikov’s crime and eventual confession; everything Cormac McCarthy has ever written. Is there a word for these moments, these horrible revelations or insights?
How about apiphany?