I've also seen a number of people who tend to behave badly, become really centered and wise when they're in serious trouble eg diagnosed with cancer, or when a loved one dies. Then after they get over the traumatic event, they're back to being their "old selves".
Hard times do seem to bring out the best in us. Ajahn Chah reportedly would ask his students: "Are you suffering?" and when they said they were, he'd laugh and say "Good!" I'm convinced he did this out of "grandmotherly love."
See also: http://healthyhealers.blogspot.ca/2012/12/if-i-cant-live-fully-now-then-when.html