Why Do People Find Pleasure in Other People's Misery?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by earllogjam, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. earllogjam

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    The Germans have a specific word for it -

    Schadenfreude - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    It is not sadism because you are not inflicting any pain nor is it revenge where you are returning some pain. This is just finding pleasure in other peoples misfortunes.

    Does anyone have any experience or theories on this? Is it just part of human nature? Is this why tabloids and celebrity gossip is so interesting to so many?
     
  2. D_golden parachute

    D_golden parachute New Member

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    It makes you feel better about yourself because you aren't in the state they are in

    and yes it's exactly why women's mags rip apart celebrities at the first sign of a spot or a bit of weight put on
     
  3. Belly_Dancer

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    It's not just about celebrities -- some people like to gossip about the misfortunes of people they know, often under the guise of being concerned for the person.
     
  4. ShowOff

    ShowOff Member

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    you just got done watching the HBO special on the Ohio vs Michigan rivalry, didnt you?

     
  5. goodwood

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    I have no idea why people enjoy the schadenfreude. Although my grandmother was a master in this. She loved it when she learned of people's misfortunes and declared the misfortunes of others to be something they deserved and brought on themselves.
    That is just bizarre to me since I feel badly for people when things don't go well and if there is a way I am able to help or be of service will happily do so.
    I would say that it might be a manifestation of insecurity, but my grandmother was not insecure. She was arrogant as could be, as was my grandfather and they were very judgemental people who were fortunate enough to go skipping on their fortunate way.
    This will be a good thread in which to read what people have to say. I am sure some grad. student must have done a thesis on this topic, wouldn't you think?
     
  6. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    I expect because it diverts people from their own miseries on some level. It's better with celebrities because it brings them down to earth. It's comforting to think their lives aren't all fabulous parties, private jets, and expensive toys.

    Schadenfreude can make for some great humor. The great physical comedians frequently employed it from Punch and Judy to Chaplin to the Three Stooges. As we can bond with each other from good fortune, it seems misfortune brings us closer together if only in the satisfaction that misfortunes are shared by all.

    The ugliest scenes are out of Jerry Springer and his ilk. People can be vicious and cruel to each other and witnessing that as entertainment tells me a great deal.

    We use schadenfreude to separate ourselves, to purposefully distance ourselves from being empathic to others. Crying and laughing are closely related. They're physical responses to what we find shocking or unexpected. If we're not permitted to cry for seeing the misfortune of someone, we must then channel the shock elsewhere and it goes into laughter. Doing so dehumanizes the subject while empowering the viewer. And yes, I think it's quite natural though why I'm not sure. Perhaps it's one way of organizing the social order, of preventing us from being so sympathetic that we stop doing what we must to get through the day. Seeing my grandmother do a faceplant getting off the bus might be hysterical to some people but I'd be shocked and immediately sympathetic. It's because I'm connected to her that I don't laugh as others might.
     
  7. ZOS23xy

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    I take a great deal of pleasure whenever Donald Trump finds that he cannot buy everyone and gets put down for trying.

    I take a good deal of pleasure whenever Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson get arrested.

    I like it that Micheal Jackson gets upset when he's called a "freak".

    I liked it when BATTLEFIELD EARTH laid an egg.

    Sorry. Though I think a lot of people feel the same.
     
  8. Principessa

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    I first heard of schadenfreude about 10 years ago. You guessed it! It was a topic on Oprah. :rolleyes: I was like OMG! I love that word! I have felt that way so many times. I am not always happy in someone elses misery or pain. More likely I feel that it is there comeuppance, a case of "what goes around, comes around." Much like ZOS23xy has stated below.

    I chuckle with glee every time a small town stands up to Wal-Mart and they are forced to build somewhere else.

    I feel proud of the people who work 2 and 3 jobs to keep a roof on their double-wide; yet find the time to go to court so that some republican fatcat can't take their home and property because of eminent domain. I love that it costs the fatcat hundreds of thousands of dollars in court fees.

    I sure do!
     
  9. whatireallywant

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    I think may of us may find pleasure in this when it's someone we think of as "having it all" (the rich and famous), out of envy. I'm not immune to this myself, although I really don't like it when the gossip magazines go on and on about a celebrity's weight gain. That just adds to the culture of thinness that leads to eating disorders. (Plus, many of these celebrities don't look all that bad after the weight gain - they look normal!) I do, however, like the "celebrities without makeup" ones! Nice to know that they look like regular people without all that makeup on! :biggrin1:

    However, I think too many people have too much of a streak of cruelty - a "kick a person while they're down" kind of mentality. I have never had that.
     
  10. B_ScaredLittleBoy

    B_ScaredLittleBoy New Member

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    Newspapers are sold on schadenfreude.

    The only reason I buy The Sun is for the Dear Deidre page. I literaly do not read any other pages. :redface:

    [Obviously its affecting my spelling]
     
  11. D_golden parachute

    D_golden parachute New Member

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    I read good newspapers, they lack these sections :)
     
  12. viking1

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    Because some people are just plain mean.
     
  13. BigDuder

    BigDuder New Member

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    i find other people's misery amusing sometimes, but i feel terrible at the same time. i guess it is because mocking misfortune is a way of seperating it from yourself. if i laugh at cancer, it mean i don't have it. or something like that...
     
  14. B_Hung Jon

    B_Hung Jon New Member

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    To me it's about a warped sense of justice. It's the idea of "sticking it to the man". Most of us have a hard time identifying with large faceless institutions so when the CEO of a huge corporation goes down, it makes us feel that there's some justice in the world. I feel good when politicians get theirs or anyone who misuses power.....brutal cops come to mind.

    I don't get pleasure over regular people's misery, but if it happens to folks who I see really deserve it, then I guess it's karma.
     
  15. Osiris

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    Anyone who derives joy from the downfall of others should prepare for their own downfall.

    Karma is a bitch...
    And her Manolo Blahnik's leave nasty holes across ones back. :wink:
     
  16. NumberOne

    NumberOne Active Member

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    I'm thiking it has alot to do with culture also... I have a long thing in my sociology book for college about a japanese gameshow where they dip a girl into a big tub of like steaming water.. for every second she stays in she gets to advertise whatever she wants for the same amount of time afterwards....and the audience loves it while shes crying and screaming.... every culture is a tad bit different about it...if only the front yard wasnt so far too walk in this damned cold weather I'd go get it :)
     
  17. EagleCowboy

    EagleCowboy Well-Known Member

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    Everybody loves dirty laundry.
    The song tells it all.
     
  18. simcha

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    Oh please, everyone is human. We all participate in this. All of us have a shadow side. Embrace your shadow and make friends with it. I'm not saying delight in it, just know it's there and love it because it's part of you.

    I do enjoy hearing about the misfortune of people I dislike intensely. Usually these are people who abuse their power and I think of them as bad people. So forgive me for being human...
     
  19. SpoiledPrincess

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    Doesn't it more strictly mean pleasure in the suffering of one's friends? Anyway I don't find any pleasure when my friends are suffering, but I do find pleasure when someone is in misery because they're getting a justly deserved payback for having behaved badly - God's revenge I call it. We've all heard of fairweather friends, but there are also people who are foulweather friends, who come out of the woodwork when you're having a rough time so they can enjoy your suffering.
     
  20. earllogjam

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    Foulweather friends make great enemies. It's one reason I hate do-gooders. I once worked with a Pollyanna type lady who was the queen do-gooder but she only did it to revel in other people's misfortunes. It made her feel superior. She thrived on it. Just showed me that you can be 53 years old and still be fucked up with no clue.

    I actually am indifferent to most people's misfortunes. Why should it bother me if I don't personally know them? It sounds very cold but it is one way I keep my perspective and sanity.
     
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