Saturday, August 15, 2009

Delight in Someone Else's Misery

Schadenfreude /ˈʃɑːdənfrɔɪdə/ is "pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others" [Ref]. It is the opposite of the Buddhist concept of mudita: "happiness in others' happiness" or "appreciative joy at the success and good fortune of others."
  • IMAGE: "Curses, foiled again!" audience pleasure at a villain's pain
This German loanword may also be defined as "a malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others" or "largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate."

The Buddhist concept of mudita -- "empathy," "sympathetic joy," or "happiness in another's good fortune" -- is cited as an antonym of schadenfreude [Ref 1]. Alternatively envy (German, Gluckschmerz), or "unhappiness at another's good fortune," could be considered schadenfreude's counterpart. Other antonyms such as empathy, pity, and compassion are "unhappiness at another's misfortune."