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posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 10:37 AM

I'd like to ask your for thoughts on the matter "Schadenfreude"
For those who never heard of it, it means feeling amused by other peoples mis-fortune.

The word comes from the German language and is a loanword in English.
I was a bit surprised the English language does not have their own version of it.
Here in the Netherlands we call it "Leedvermaak".

Feeling joy when other people suffer is of course ethically unwelcome. As it shows a lack of empathy that is so important for all of us getting along with each other and the world around us.

I read a piece from from the King James bible that said.

The Book of Proverbs mentions an emotion similar to that now described by the word schadenfreude: "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him." (Proverbs 24:17–18 )

So even religion does not say it's OK. To mention it so explicit it looks like the author experienced it himself.

I am not interested in your thoughts on making fun of peoples misery.
We all know our world can be a rotten pool of life unworthy of even the smallest amount of empathy. From time to time that is... ( Don't get me wrong. Even then beautiful things happen.)

I'm interested in being amused by other peoples accidents. Where laughter comes natural and more importantly comes without any wickedness.

To let you better understand what it is I mean, I'll post a couple of videos. Enjoy !

Slapstick, Charly Chaplin:

Not as good of an example but clearly made to entertain.

Mr. Bean. IMO Hilarious to look at.

Again the video shows the intention to amuse by mocking Mr. Bean as only Rowan Atkinson can present it. ( Fun Note, Rowan Atkinson also known from Blackadder is a dull boring and serious man in real life. ) I guess that is required to serious play a not so serious character.

Laurel & Hardy.

Along with Chaplin and Bean, Giants in an industry that makes fun of people to entertain.

But to completely make it obvious of what I'm talking about the next one is the best example of modern day " Shadefraude"

Funniest Home Videos !

This is exactly what I'm amazed about.

Not only this is from a long lasting television show. People send in those tapes fully aware of the pain some of them had to endure.
Not even mentioning Bob Sagget who is IMO the opposite of funny and even single handedly is responsible for a part of NOT Americans to think of the intelligence of Americans. ( No offense )

I know that studies show that people like to watch people make fun of them selves and the best examples are shows like Idols, X factor and so on. ( I'm talking about the audition part. )

People like to see others fail.
Those with low self esteem laugh more and harder to see failure then those with high self esteem. Which make sense to me.

The reason for my question:

I don't think that the clips in funniest home videos are on the same league.
These people do not make fun of them selves. They have an accident. The common response is laughter ???
Personally I'm just as guilty of it and I really can't help myself. However...

It does not mean that I make fun of them. I've even offered to help while I laughed so hard I almost needed help myself. People think this is a bad thing but I experience it as a natural response.

I can't wrap my mind on it.

How come we laugh at such a situation ?
I've even seen videos and those that were so unlucky to be in the accident, I found out later actually died from that experience. I've got to add those were videos I recognized to be seriously not funny and my laughter stopped. When they indeed were life threatening or deadly I felt good. I realized I was able to tell the difference.

Why is laughter and amusement a response when a situation like this occurs ?

I must repeat I'm not talking about true genuine joy of other peoples misery.
I'm talking about the natural response I have experienced so frequently.

Not because I was amused by the person but the situation that person was in I felt was Hilarious.

I drove by a house for the mentally disabled once. Behind a window next to the entrance...
There was a guy, obviously he was not one of the caretakers but one of the inhabitants that needed care. I could tell because he showed all the signs of Down syndrome.
Not funny I agree and I would and will not laugh about that. However...
The guy stood there with a rattle in one hand, ( when you spin it it rattles.) dressed in an outfit he probably picked himself, waving to me with the other hand and a smile from ear to ear that screamed, Whoohoo... Look at me.

You could get me of the floor after because that sight triggered the best laugh I had in years.
My girlfriend was with me and got mad about it and we even had a fight because of it.
I couldn't get her to understand that I was not laughing at the guy but because of the guy.
Specifically, because of the situation where this guy had placed himself in, This framework that reached my line of sight at that point in time... ?

Really... Is it just me or can you relate ?

Your thoughts please ?

I'll leave you all with one last video.

Just because it's so funny to look at.

Kind regards

~ Sinter.

[edit on 6/14/2010 by Sinter Klaas]

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 10:56 AM
Good question, i don't think we laugh about the people, but more about the situation, like you described the situation with the guy, you don't lauh about him, but rather about how he looks and behaves.

To be honest i can't stand those "funny" home videos, i can't stand Jackass or the stuff that fills Youtube, those bored, stupid teenagers doing stupid things to get their 10 seconds of fame.
For most accident videos (and those "funny" home videos are accidents) i rather think "poor guy" or "that has to hurt". I don't know how you can laugh about that.

I can laugh about the look of some people, how they dress and such. For example i really like the "People at Walmart" Website, because it is so bizarre and crazy how some people dress and most of the time i really wonder how they're allowed to leave their houses dressed like that or how they "dressed up" their cars, by glueing action figures on the hood or something

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 10:58 AM
I never understood why laughing at other peoples misfortunes amuses us, but it really does.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 11:01 AM
I think schadenfreude might mean more than only having amusement at another's misfortune. It might also mean feeling pleasure when you see others fail ... and that doesn't just mean when they fall off a bicycle or trip down the stairs.

When you see someone have a minor accident, you obviously go and help them out, perhaps you laugh about their plight too but not in a cruel way, it can help reduce the shock of the unfortunate person. There's no harm in making light of a minor scrape, levity helps the world go around ! You're not laughing at them, you laugh with them ... because you know it'll happen to you too some day.

Many parents will recognise that ... when a child tumbles you have a split second to smile, laugh and say comforting words and the child won't be as shocked ... they'll just pick themselves up and dust themselves down. But don't smile, don't react and the child will begin to cry and come over to you for a hug and reassurance.

I think real schadenfreude only comes into the equation with people you genuinely don't like. We all know braggards with the latest new car, fancy home and with lots of material things ... I get a touch of schadenfreude when I hear that bad things have happened to such people, perhaps a divorce or them being made unemployed. And that's because they forget about you on their way up and are the first to contact you on their way down. Or because they've rubbed your nose in it, being boastful about all the things they have.

Schadenfreude doesn't come alone. It shares the same bed with dislike, hatred ... and also familiarity.

Thank you for an interesting post !

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 11:04 AM
reply to post by ShadowAngel85

I do not like a lot videos on the funniest home videos either.
But... honestly the actual accidents, not all. I just laugh.

Sometimes I immediately realize and adjust, the first response is laughter.

Of course a lot of things are funny. But they are intended to be accidents are not.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 11:06 AM
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."
Mel Brooks

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 11:11 AM
reply to post by Ulala

Many parents will recognise that ... when a child tumbles you have a split second to smile, laugh and say comforting words and the child won't be as shocked ... they'll just pick themselves up and dust themselves down. But don't smile, don't react and the child will begin to cry and come over to you for a hug and reassurance.

This could be it.

I really tried to separate the difference between the unintended response and and the when true emotions lead to laughter. Like hate, jealousy and so on...

Thank you for your elaborate answer.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 11:12 AM
reply to post by MrDesolate

I love the quote...

However... I will never look at Mell Brooks the same again. What a sick dude.
Sadly it's true.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 11:48 AM
I believe it is important to realise the difference between laughing at somebody else because they experience frustration and inconvenience, and laughing at them because they have suffered or found misfortune. It can be a fine line at times. I am not sure how specifically that word translates into English. I agree that is strange that a language such as English does not have an equivalent word because it is a common idea in entertainment and media.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 11:53 AM
For clarification:
From Schadenfreude means "A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others."

Malicious satisfaction. Knowing that it's mean and bad and all sorts of wrong to laugh... but you laugh anyhow.

I usually get those good hearty gut laughs from ------------------------- or the Darwin Awards. Little kid with his hand/arm caught in a meat grinder?? Guess little Billy won't do that again!!!
(Wonder if he grew up to be a vegetarian or a vegan...) Man who shoots off his own testicles because he shoved the loaded & cocked pistol in his waistband? lmao!!

If ya don't have the good sense that God gave a doughnut... well... I'm just gonna hafta laugh at your misfortunes!!!

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 12:00 PM
Well after digging a little, I discovered there are English words almost equating to Schadenfreude. I say almost because they are loosely connected and possibly mean slightly different things.

I will link you guys the article and quote some from it so you can get the gist of it.

Little-used English words synonymous with schadenfreude have been derived from the Greek word ἐπιχαιρεκακία/Epichairekakia.[2][3] Nathan Bailey's 18th-century Universal Etymological English Dictionary, for example, contains an entry for epicharikaky that gives its etymology as a compound of epi (upon), chaira (joy/charity/heart), and kakon (evil).[4][5] A popular modern collection of rare words, however, gives its spelling as "epicaricacy".

An English expression with a similar meaning is 'Roman holiday', a metaphor taken from the poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" by George Gordon, Lord Byron, where a gladiator in Ancient Rome expects to be "butcher'd to make a Roman holiday" while the audience would take pleasure from watching his suffering. The term suggests debauchery and disorder in addition to sadistic enjoyment

Another phrase with a meaning similar to Schadenfreude is "morose delectation" ("delectatio morosa" in Latin), meaning "the habit of dwelling with enjoyment on evil thoughts".[8] The medieval church taught morose delectation as a sin.[9][10] French writer Pierre Klossowski maintained that the appeal of sadism is morose delectation

So we have Epicharikaky, which is never used. I have NEVER heard anyone mention Epicharikaky, ever.

We have "Roman Holiday", which is similar but a bit darker than Schadenfreude intends, so it's only loosely related.

Also "morose delectation" is a bit dark as well, and perhaps too dark to convey the lighter side of Schadenfreude.

So really, we only have loose terms that barely fit. As most of these terms are describing something very dark.

They essentially get joy from watching evil. This is not schadenfreude IMO, as schadenfreude would be joy from watching people make stupid mistakes and get hurt in silly ways.

They are a bit different.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 12:09 PM
I would imagine with Schadenfreude there's some hatred involved.

If I'm laughing my head off at folk having accidents on those funny TV shows, I'm not hating them. I'm liking them because they made me laugh. I don't think that's Schadenfreude.

Schadenfreude is what one of my in'laws suffers from. She actually likes the misfortune of others. You can see her eyes light up when something happens to someone. It goes along with gossip and snobbery.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 12:35 PM
Interesting word.
I just learned it yesterday.
Were you playing Marble Blast Ultra my friend?

Those Developers definitely had a sick intelligent sense of humor.
True definition of Schadenfreude- See Below Video.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 12:46 PM
Every joke or laughter is at the expanse of someone or something.

Maybe your quote of the King James Bible is the reason why the church didn't want a society where there would be comedy since it relaxes us and sets us free a bit. Free, the most dangerous word in the world.

Looking at the Funniest Home Videos, some are funny, but the one with the guy being crushed by a chopped three ( if true ) isn't at all.
You have to know when there is a serious insident, but even then, there are some heartless people who will laugh at any occasions.

I heard a moron laugh at a guy who just died from electrocution where I worked a few years ago. Even to this day, that guy will always equate to what is the most stupid in a human being for me.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 12:56 PM

Originally posted by Sinter Klaas

I'm interested in being amused by other peoples accidents. Where laughter comes natural and more importantly comes without any wickedness.

I answered a thread with a similar answer recently ...

On this occasion i`ll just quote Dr. Ramachandran .

Laughter as a false alarm signal .

'Laughter isn't just an expression of surprise, it is also strongly linked to feelings of relief,' he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Los Angeles yesterday.
He claims involuntary laughter was a false alarm message that played a vital role in the evolution of humans. Laughter is universal, he said. 'Every culture has laughter - with the only exception being the Germans,' he joked.
Dr Ramachandran explained how most jokes follow a similar pattern, whether they are slapstick routines or puns. 'You take the listener down the garden path they expect and at the end you introduce a sudden twist which entails a complete reinterpretation of what has gone before,' he said. 'A man slipping on a banana skin and cracking his head open isn't funny. A man getting up again is.' He added: 'If the man is OK then there's no danger.
Laughter is a false alarm signal. 'When you laugh, you are alerting other people that they don't have to waste time dealing with what they thought was a danger or threat. Laughter is nature's "OK'' signal.'
He argued that laughter was a form of communication which helped our ancestors save energy and resources.

If, for instance, prehistoric hunters were startled by rustling in the bushes, their immediate instinct would be to panic. Adrenaline levels would shoot up and they would prepare to fight or flee. But if the rustling turned out to be a rabbit and not a predator, the natural reaction would be to laugh - sending out a signal to the whole group that they could stand down.

Dr Ramachandran's observation explains why victims of practical jokes tend to laugh and accounts for the chuckles that accompany feelings of relief and the release of tension.


The neurology and evolution of humor, laughter, and smiling:the false alarm theory -V.S Ramachandran

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 01:36 PM
reply to post by UmbraSumus

Thank you that says about the same as this:

Many parents will recognise that ... when a child tumbles you have a split second to smile, laugh and say comforting words and the child won't be as shocked ... they'll just pick themselves up and dust themselves down. But don't smile, don't react and the child will begin to cry and come over to you for a hug and reassurance.

Only in a bigger way.

It definitely explains why it comes naturally.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 01:59 PM
I was not playing Marble blast actually.

It is a question that just pops up once in a while. The difference is that I never heard of ATS the last time it popped.

I think the question of why is now answered. Lets go a little deeper.

Why is a response in this case laughter considered as inappropriate by a lot of people.
I know the line is easily crossed.

Like my example of the guy with the rattle in the OP.
It actually left me in a fight while there was not one single moments I intentionally made fun of the guy or laughed with a underlying reason.

IMO laughing is not only a way to say it is OK.

I think it is a way to process every day life.

Even when people laugh because they do hate or like to see someone in pain.
It is still an emotion. You can't condemn an emotion.

Just like the idea video games will cause violence. Violence is part of you otherwise the whole world would be violent. Well, the part that plays video games

However that belongs in another thread...

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 03:03 PM
reply to post by Sinter Klaas

I think we laugh at people for a lot of different reasons. I dont think there is just ONE overarching reason we laugh at them.

The Mr Bean example makes me laugh because he does things that are exaggerations of feelings I myself have at times. (Getting up on a high board, and then not wanting to jump, but also not wanting to look like a coward)
That kind of laughing at people is really not mean, it seems to me it is born from empathy.

The funniest home videos thing is different. Watching people fall is funny, and to some degree it is also because you put yourself in their shoes, and imagine what they must be thinking before the fall, and during the fall, but I dont think many people do laugh when someone is suffering from the effects of an accident. I dont see people laughing at car accidents. I think when people are really hurt, no one finds it funny, and I think that that is why they end the clips with the fall, and only show the after if the person is unharmed and laughing themself.

I even laugh when I do something silly, or fall, as long as I am not hurt, (Except my pride) and call myself a bonehead.

But, that said, there are other opinions. Here is an article on just that subject.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 04:24 PM
reply to post by Illusionsaregrander

I agree. A car accident is never funny.

I once had the upper part of my ring finger completely shattered/ broken / destroyed.
I couldn't even watch a scene from Tom and Jerry where one of them got hurt.
This almost lasted for 2 years.
Not funny.

Thanks for the link.
that is a pretty interesting article.

laughing comes natural IMO but how come there are these huge differences in what is appropriate and what not ?

Pain makes you laugh. Yes, laughing also reliefs pain and stress. Wonderful

Just don't tell the pharmaceutical industry you know.

posted on Jun, 14 2010 @ 06:13 PM
I have my own theory about laughter.

I think laughter is a perfectly natural physical response to the act of learning — a reward, if you will, for completing new neural pathways. For example, when we learn something for the first time, and understand it, we are pleased and we chuckle or laugh out loud.

When a standup comedian sets up an audience for a gag, we wait for a punchline, whereupon we GET the joke — creating a logical neural pathway — and we laugh. Even without a punchline, even if it's just a comedian showcasing his eccentric personality, we are LEARNING something new about the presenter, and we laugh.

When we see professional athletes attempt and successfully execute complex play patterns, we suddenly see the logic of the play, we GET IT, we create a new neural pathway, and we laugh and hoot and cheer.

This learning activity additionally releases a flood of endorphins, which gives us a buzz, even makes us kind of loopy and euphoric. It feels good to laugh. We GET HIGH by laughing. That in itself is a reward for learning.

This is my own neurological theory, by the way, you probably won't find too many academic dissertations addressing the subject as I do. Not yet, anyway. But will I get credit for it? Hell no I won't.

Now, as this applies to the schadenfreude phenomenon, I think the same logic applies. We see some poor dumb bastard fall backwards in a rocking chair and land head-first in a bed of fire ants, and we create a complete, new neural pathway of the incident — that's another way human brains learn without actually experiencing such a calamity ourselves.

We empathize with the victim, so we mentally record such pratfalls for future reference — simply by viewing a single incident, we modify our own behavior on-the-spot so as not to make the same mistake in the future.

This is a survival technique that humans, particularly, have honed to perfection, above all other creatures on Earth (so far as we know).

As a learning experience, it deserves a reward just like any other instance of learning, so we LAUGH, even though social mores may tell us not to laugh.

Here's an interesting bit of corroboration: Take two observers and show them a clip of a calamitous and embarrassing pratfall (your typical "America's Funniest Video")... Let's say, some oaf dancing on a table until it suddenly collapses, sending the oaf cartwheeling out an open window. Let's further say that one of your observers has never experienced such an accident, while the other has.

Which observer do you think will laugh?

Well, certainly, the observer who never experienced such a humiliating fall is going to laugh his ass off — because he has just learned an important lesson and instantly modified his own behavior... He's just created a new neural pathway, and he knows never going to make that mistake (he thinks), so he laughs loud and long.

The other observer, however, who has busted his ass while table-dancing is NOT going to be particularly amused with this video. He has already learned that lesson the hard way, and he may have even laughed at his own stupidity at the time, but his endorphin rush probably wasn't sufficient to compensate for three weeks in traction. This observer DOES NOT laugh, but groans audibly and may even become angry with his chortling colleague.

Believe me, I know how this works.

When I watched TV years ago, I rarely watched "America's Funniest" anything, because I totally empathized with the victims, and frankly I never found such pseudo-snuff-flicks enlightening or entertaining. I mean, I had performed most of those stupid and painful stunts myself — and a few you've probably never seen — and I had no pleasant memories of cracking my head or breaking bones or tumbling down mountainsides. It aint funny.

Still, to those lucky millions who may never experience such physical devastation, I suppose that observing the stupid misadventures of others IS a good and safe reason to laugh — it's a painless learning experience, and the laughter is a natural reward for successfully modifying our behavior.

— Doc Velocity

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