Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 3 – Schadenfreude
Posted on 03/07/2013 by rarasaur
“Prompts for the Promptless” was created to expand minds, share ideas, and — equally importantly — find something about which to blog.
Every episode will run for a week and feature a “concept”, complete with a super-simplified definition and suggested prompts.
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Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.
“Don’t reach for the halo too soon. You have plenty of time to enjoy yourself, even a little maliciously sometimes, before you settle down to being a saint.” – Ellis Peters, Monk’s Hood
Learn more at Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude
Schadenfreude– like anger, sadness, or any less-than-positive emotion– gets a bad rap, though most people will agree that balance is needed in life. Still, if the concept if upsetting to you, feel free to write about it’s closest opposite– Mudita.
I’m going with Schadenfreude!
Schadenfreude is a German word meaning pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. Wiktionary.org goes a little deeper with it’s definition of schadenfreude:
1. Malicious enjoyment derived from observing someone else’s misfortune. Joy in the suffering of others.
For example: I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure. Clarence Darrow
Latin has a similar word; ‘delectation morosa’ or ‘morose delectation’ in English, meaning: Dwelling with joy on evil thoughts.
An English word that we all can relate to is gloat or gloating. If we are honest with ourselves, we have all experienced gloating; Gloating over a perceived enemy’s misfortune. Gloating to a friend about beating him/her at a physical sport, board game, video game, etc… To gloat does not require evil or malice.
Picture courtesy of http://www.toonspool.com via Yahoo Images
We live in a day and age that we are surrounded by schadenfreude. Bullying is a form of schadenfreude. Some bully’s are psychopaths with antisocial behavior who gain satisfaction from malicious and evil intents. Some every day normal people, like your pharmacist, your neighbor, your mailman, etc… are psychopaths with the same malicious and evil intent. Most people are not capable of thinking in those terms. Others deny the existence of such a thing as schadenfreude. Few realize it for what it is.
There is a good article about a scientific study called, ‘The science of schadenfreude’ at:
Other Scientific Studies include:
Studies based on social comparison theory, the idea that when people around us have bad luck, we look better to ourselves.
Researchers have found that people with low self-esteem are more likely to feel schadenfreude than are people who have high self-esteem.
A 2003 study examined intergroup schadenfreude within the context of sports, specifically an international football (soccer) competition. The study focused on the German and Dutch football teams and their fans. The results of this study indicated that the emotion of schadenfreude is very sensitive to circumstances that make it more or less legitimate to feel such malicious pleasure towards a sports rival.
A 2006 experiment about justice served suggests that men, but not women, enjoy seeing bad people suffer. The study was designed to measure empathy, by watching which brain centers are stimulated when subjects inside an fMRI observe someone experiencing physical pain. Researchers expected that the brain’s empathy center of subjects would show more stimulation when those seen as good got an electric shock than would occur if the shock was given to someone the subject had reason to consider bad. This was indeed the case, but for male subjects, the brain’s pleasure centers also lit up when someone got a shock that the male thought was well-deserved. This was not exactly a test about schadenfreude because it was not isolated examples of joy in other peoples suffering.
Brain-scanning studies show that schadenfreude is correlated with envy in subjects. Strong feelings of envy activated physical pain nodes in the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex; the brain’s reward centers, such as the ventral striatum, were activated by news that the people envied had suffered misfortune. The magnitude of the brain’s schadenfreude response could even be predicted from the strength of the previous envy response.
A 2009 study indicates that the hormone oxytocin may be involved in the feeling of schadenfreude. In that study, it was reported that when participants in a game of chance were pitted against a player they considered arrogant, inhaling oxytocin through the nose enhanced their feelings of schadenfreude when their opponent lost as well as their feelings of envy when their opponent won.
Another study conducted in 2009 by Combs et al. provides evidence for people’s capacity to feel schadenfreude in response to negative events in politics. The study was designed to determine whether or not there was a possibility that events containing objective misfortunes might produce schadenfreude. It was reported in the study that the likelihood of experiencing feelings of schadenfreude depends upon whether an individual’s own party or the opposing party is suffering harm. This study suggests that the domain of politics is prime territory for feelings of schadenfreude, especially for those who identify strongly with their political party.
Picture courtesy of http://www.moonbattery.com via Yahoo Images
These scientific studies give us a lot to think about. It would seem that several of us experience schadenfreude at some point/points in our life. The question is: Is it with evil or malicious intent or are we just experiencing low self-esteem?
View other Prompts for the Promptless Posts at: https://mauldinfamily1.wordpress.com/category/for-the-promptless/