SCHADENFREUDE-Richard.h.Smith

Schadenfreude Monthly

Schaden” meaning “harm” and “freude” meaning “joy,” and it indeed refers to the pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune.A large part of our emotional life depends on us comparing ourselves with others.Their failures boost our worth and esteem.Envy in a competitive world can lead to this joyous feeling.

the desire for justice merges with a desire for revenge against someone we dislike, even hate”

Tabloids and other bestselling magazines are based on the breakups and tragedies of other people.Humilitainment where people are entertained in the name of humiliating other people, and shows like American Idol propagates laughing at others failures.We are so threatened by this feeling that we want to suppress it at all costs.”When we feel envy, strong envy especially, we not only hope for misfortunes to befall those whom we envy; we may sometimes find ways to bring the misfortune about”The envy could lead to resentment which could give way to acts of violence “fundamental attribution error” when we see someone’s failures or misfortunes we tend to blame their personality and their character which makes it harder to empathize with them.

Our self interested nature and our keen preference for superiority over inferiority gives way to schadenfreude.If we “fail” because most people are performing better than we are, we infer low ability; if we “succeed” because most people do worse than we do, we infer high ability”But Can social comparison define our own abilities. Each began to look at the others and to want to be looked at himself; and public esteem came to be prized. He who sang or danced the best;and this was the first step toward inequality“(Rousseau from the book “Discourse on Inequality )“If we had no faults of our own, we would not take so much pleasure in noticing those of others.”life comes down to the quest for status.The whole mating game lies in the premise that we must mate and mate with those who gave our offspring the genetic superiority so we choose our mates very carefully.Desire to mate with the most attractive person and we are competing with others for that as well.

David Buss suggests that the anticipated pleasure of seeing higher status people fail serves an adaptive goal as well: to bring about these misfortunes, the relative gain that results, and the experience of this pleasure.The “better-than-average effect” is very easily demonstrated in the saying of a social psychologist Mark Alicke “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”We think we are superior to others in whatever we do and the universe revolves around us.We might start looking at people who are inferior to us or start exaggerating other people’s inferiority to lend credence to our alleged superiority.Look at instant youtube sensations like Tahir shah,Dhinchak Pooja etc why do we want to see people doing dumb shit?what if it makes us feel superior?makes us believe in our intellectual prowess.

Sport Killings which young men commit to people who are inferior mostly the vulnerable homeless Men which serves as an easy target to get “cheap thrills” Psychologist Tom wills put this theory forward that downward comparisons give us a sense of self esteem.

If we have suffered or have low self esteem or our self esteem has taken a hit we might benefit from downwarrd comparisons such as gossip or tabloid stories.One of the reasons why people laugh is in relation to knowing that they are superior.In the 17 the century, Thomas hobs said ,”Laughter comes from a sudden sense of superiority ” We are also more likely to laugher over our insecurities,” such as sexual inadequacies, uneasy relationships with one’s boss, ethnic inferiority,but we laugh often  at another person’s expense which is mostly the foolish behavior of others .We are more likely to laugh at jokes about outgroups,people different from us or our group rather than our own ingroup.Laughter can also be brought about by incongruous inconcistent information too that have the capacity to shock people.Us vs Them.The successes and failures of the groups to which we belong affect us perhaps as much as do our individual ups and downs.“minimal group paradigm,”human beings have this innate tendency to categorize themselves and others into in and outgroups but why?clarity? certainty when it comes to evaluating out own group we cannot objectively evaluate it.Research shows that the average fan is quite capable of being pleased over injuries to players on opposing teams.“individual-group discontinuity effect”Groups are more competitive than individuals.People in mobs always have a tendency to act brutally as being a part of a group diffuses responsibility and also we can even take pride in our goal of ”serving” our group even at the cost of harming others which we see people in mobs are quite capable of doing.”feeling pleasure because of a friend’s troubles leads us into disturbing psychological and moral terrain.Two directions, one empathy and the other schandenfreude and this ambivalence fully captures human nature.“two souls,” as Faust says, “dwell with-in his breast,” the one of sociability and helpfulness, the other of jealousy and antagonism(William James) we are neither born to be “good” nor born to be “bad”; we are born to be “good or bad.”(Howard Gradner) Who enters into a competition with a desire for the other side to win?Dale Carnegie also talks about self interest as the prime motivation in humans. No matter how evil our actions are we can always have an accuse,We are late because of that traffic jam but when others are late or fail to reply we immediately assume a deep flaw in their personality or their character while we are innocent angels.Criticism is more likely to inspire defensiveness and retaliatory ill will because it “wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance.”Social psychologist Robert Cialdini,in his book, Influence talks about Self interest as a motivational given The child is unashamed about what he needs and wants most. But it is too all-absorbing and relentless to be an aberration, it expresses the heart of the creature: the desire to stand out, to be the one in creation.

IT Is not that children are vicious, selfish, or domineering. It is that they so openly express man’s tragic destiny: he must desperately justify himself as an object of primary value in the universe”It’s easier to feel sad when we have failed and it’s hard to feel happy for someone when we ourselves have failed.Psychologists Roy Baumeister and Brad Bushman, in their widely used textbook Social Psychology and Human Nature talks of the duality of human nature that is empathy and self interest.When our basic nature is selfish and rightly so for the sake of survival and propagation of our species while the culture imposes restraints and restrictions in the form of moral code which helps us to take control of our inner selfish side.Shame and guilt underlies our wanting to not deviate from culture as our self-interested and selfish might come out in public and will lead to embarrassment.We wait for our turn,respect for the property of others etc etc competition in sports and politics could intensify our schandenfreude for For sport enthusiasts and die hard political party fans bad things happening to rival teams’s members is a good thing.

Is there a Connection between revenge and schandenfreude.Deserved misfortune?We believe that bad behavior deserves bad fate.Lol it’s funny how schandenfreude is considered bad but under the disguise of a bad thing happening to a bad person it’s justified lol by saying “it’s deserved”All these  moral preachers out there are quick to point out other people’s moral failings yet they themselves fail.”Preachers are easy targets. Their job requires that they encourage moral behavior in others—even though they are surely flawed themselves, just like their congregations”

We have this desire or we construct our world in such a way  that we think we  live in a just world.A just world makes us believe that we live in a world where there is order and predictablility.The chaos of the alternative viewpoint causes a lot of anxiety.The 1980 book, The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion, Lerner.This is the viewpoint that culminates in people calling the rape of the women on the highway justified or deserved or any rape or any harassment deserved because the women choose to dress in a certain way which prompted the action.It’s as if we want to justify other people’s misfortunes by assassinating their character in one way or the other or by saying they “deserved” it.Yes there are times when people deserve something but there are still times when they don’t.”Culpable control” We tend to think that others have more control over their bad outcomes than they actually have.When people treat us badly or we seem to dislike someone we might think that they deserve their misfortune. Evolutionary psychologists conclude that vengeance is instinctual emotional reaction to a wrong.Justice and even our religion is predicated upon the belief that we should not take revenge.People often overestimate how satisfying revenge will be because they are unaware that their vengeful actions can cause them “to continue to think about (rather than forget) those whom they have punished.”Social psychologist Sung hee Kim talks about revenge in restoring our self esteem as we seem to think that the wrongdooers has so little respect for us that they harmed us.Indirect revenge the witnessing of a bad event happening to a person . Humiliation is very pleasing to watch.The whole genre of reality shows are predecated upon this humiliation packaged as entertainment.

Media researchers Steven Reiss and James Wiltz correlated self importance and the need for prestige and vengeance with reality TV show viewing and there was a positive correlation.“ Viewers feel good about their status and their self importance.Koreans have a phrase, “When my cousin buys a rice paddy, my stomach twists.” This captures well the pain of envy andEnvy is a universal human emotion. It is natural to feel envy when we lose out to someone else and must continue to gaze upon the envied people. Amygdala judges if someone is superior to us or not.Anterior Cingulate cortex is a “discrepancy detector”mPFC activated when we try to understand what other is thinking.There ‘s a complex brain activatuon involved in envy. Is there a link between envy and pleasure? Japanese researchers did brain scanning to establish a link in which envy caused ACC activation which is associated with experiencing physical pain while hearing about a misfortune to the envied caused the activation of the striatum the pleasure centre.Hostility can be linked to envy .”People feeling envy are willing to take a loss themselves, as long as it also means that the envied person will suffer to the same or greater relative degree” the pain produced by the envious person is so great that could override any sense of loss that they might experience.We envy people who are like us but they have something that we lack.The similarity allows us to think that we can have the thing that we longed for.You don’t envy celebrities because we know they are not like us.We envy our friends, our relatives, people close to us.The frustration can quickly turn into anger and there’s a certain fascination that we have towards disasters, crimes and any calamity that we might hate to admit but the appeal of Tabloids and the heavy coverage of crimes,natural disasters etc gives credence to the validity of these claims.The unprecedented coverage of divorce , weight gain/loss ,scandal,health problem etc and the kind of attention that such news garner may give credence to the likelihood of us getting some pleasure out of other people ‘s misfortunes.A lot of people suffer as a result of this schandenfreude”.As much as people might admire competence in other people, when it comes to actually liking them, too much competence becomes a handicap.A touch of weakness and vulnerability goes a long way toward taking the edge off the negative effects of superiority”“[T]he fat rich man stepping out of the Cadillac and into the mud puddle” will always be funny”A bright yellow, $250,000 Lamborghini spun out of control but the driver was safe but the car got damaged.That video collected 3.8 million views in about 24 hours based on YouTube statistics.Likability, therefore, may be no sure antidote for defusing another person’s envy”Even though you might be nice or likable people who are envious of you will still find a reason to be envious as they will somehow find reasons to justify it.Hatred is active displeasure, envy passive. We need not wonder that envy turns so soon to hatred.—JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE3

When we deny envy we actually take more pleasure in seeing them fail and we might also act in order to make other people suffer.Admitting envy is akin to admitting inferiority.”why most of us can believe that we are better than average despite this being a mathematical impossibility—everyone cannot be better than average” Envy is a hostile and repellent emotion.We also have strong social norms against feeling envy.Envy caused the first murder.Even Satan is envious of Christ.People feeling envy look at advantaged others with malice, casting an “evil eye” upon them—and look with pleasure when misfortune strikes” When we look at people’s advantages be it beauty,wealth talents,smartness etc etc and we realize that advantage is undeserved.The pioneering social psychologist Fritz Heider saw envy as emerging from a strong tendency toward the equalisation of lots.So many things creates envy that we can’t change or control like wealth,beauty etc which are insurmountable differences. Such inequalities are undeniably important contributors to success in work and mating game.Envy is a paradox and two things comes with this, both craving for justice  and there’s this self assertive thing that constant desire to rise above others,to stand out.

From evolutionary psychology,natural selection is inherently brutal,competitive, selecting for individual phenotypes—and the genes that code for them—based on their ability to outperform existing alternate forms in domains that affect fitness.”

Nietzsche ressentiment originated in envy which caused painful frustration.You become bitter because you can’t do anything about this envy and so you start thinking that you don’t actually value the things so it creates a conflict inside our brain which can lead to violence.

Vulnerable narcissists are particularly susceptible to envy.We might start blaming god for other people’s talents.It’s a painful ordeal and it can be frustrating due to the helplessness of the situation.It is the difference between laughing over the seemingly benign joke and the willingness to stand happily by while another person suffers—or worse, to be responsible for perpetrating the harm.Envy is a powerful and righteous emotion and accepting it means accepting your own inferiority it could easily change into resentment.The evil eye of envying that is feared in almost all cultures is the result of resentment turned into action.But why?because the transmutation can be to revenge against injustice and why not? Look at the world around you there’s a randomness to the world which could naturally lead to envy.Most schandenfreude is harmless mostly light gossip.In his book Envy: The Seven Deadly Sins, Joseph Epstein suggests the strong links between envy and Nazi anti-Semitism.Only 9 percent Jewish in Germany but Jews accounted for 60 percent of the city’s lawyers, more than half its physicians, more than 90 percent of its advertising executives, and 123 of its 174 newspaper editors. And this is not to mention the prominent places Jews held in banking, retailing, and intellectual and artistic life.I cannot help but wonder the Sindhi muhajir fueds that we have in our country in which Urdu speaking might say ohhh they are sindhis occupying this position that position while Sindhis might also say this.I mean I am not denying nepotism in this country but the point I am trying to make is this that even though we might be justified in saying that now when we look at almost every government hospital in Karachi we see sindhis so does nepotism have it’s role?yes it might be true and I have seen instances where sindhis might be favoured but the problem with this injustice is that it might quickly escalate into resentment against the whole community and could lead to acts of violence that might as well be ”justified” all due to the inherent injustice in the system.When Albert Speer, Hitler’s top architect, was asked why Hitler was anti-Semitic,one of the reasons that he gave was ““secretly admired and envied the Jews.”Wealth,power and influence are not the only things that can create envy.Stereotype Content Model, an innovative theory of prejudice proposed by psychologists Susan Fiske and Amy Cuddy.Traditional theories based on prejudice defines it as a general negative feeling against the other group but not all groups are same in competence and high status hence the treatment and the level of prejudice might also be different or whether they are a threat or not?like if they are in competition with us?All this propaganda against the Nazi Jews were also fueled by the fact that the Jews have all the leadership positions.Nazis saw group identity in blood hence their deadly racism “When economic conditions are poor, it is not surprising that people, in their collective frustration, will search for plausible causes for the hardships they are suffering. Blaming these hardships on another group—one perceived to be different, as well as competent, manipulative, and out for themselves—has a certain plausibility to it”Jewish property was destroyed Jewish shops were damaged their synagogue (praying places) were burned” Germans took a kind of pleasure in the suffering of Jews, such as gathering to watch Jews scrubbing streets with toothbrushes or soldiers pulling the beards of old Jewish men”They also sent news to live in segregated places called ”the ghettosOnce schadenfreude becomes the normative response to the mistreatment of a group of people, worse behaviors, even genocide, might enter the imagination of the envious person”Envy feel like “resentment” and the misfortune feel like “deserved”. On jan20 1942 ,The SS held a meeting to bring about the systemic genocide of the Jewish people.”Envy inspires a hatred in which the most important goal is to bring the envied person down, even if it is costly to the self in other ways”” The dog was in every man, a beast that could be unleashed”What if we start looking for circumstances beyond our control that made it possible for us to fail “our dual tendencies to overattribute the causes of other people’s behavior to their internal qualities along with overlooking the possible role of situational causes gives way to Schandenfruede.

We see a man get angry with a nurse and our quick inference is that he must be a hostile person. This “explains” his behavior.We tend to infer dispositional, internal causes for other people’s behavior—so much so that it can require focus and effort to correct this initial, automatic inference even when situational factors warrant.”The man gets angry with the nurse, he is a hostile person; the man continues to shock the learner, he is a sadistic person; the woman is behaving nervously, she is a nervous person, and so on”We also have a lot of personality labels such as jerk,neurotic etc”It is certainly easy to find fun in the humiliation of people when we can enjoy self-righteous superiority over them “Competition itself is a kind of social comparison process.Social comparisons are important building blocks for self-assessments, self-evaluations, and emotions.To be human is to be unpleasant as well as pleasant. … Anger, dislike, weariness, schadenfreude: Those are all, for me, parts of human experience. That does not mean those emotions rule people, but it does mean they are there sometimes.When the desired misfortunes fail to happen, we simply feel secret disappointment. A recently coined word for this feeling is glückschmerz

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