malicious joy

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The Taming of the Donkey , painting by Eduardo Zamacois y Zabala from 1868: Monks laugh at how one of their confreres tries to tame a donkey

As Schadenfreude (rarely even schadenfreude ) is the joy about the mishap or misfortune on the other referred. It can be perceived as hidden glee or as open glee ( scorn , ridicule , irony , malice , sarcasm ). In the case of open glee, this emotion is communicated directly to the “causer”.

Schadenfreude seems a dominant role in obtaining justice and the punishment of norm violations in human societies to play. In many religions and value systems, however, it is ostracized.

Gender-specific differences in development and motivation are assumed.

The word Schadenfreude in an English text

The word "Schadenfreude" exists as a German loan word in English , French , Italian , Spanish , Portuguese and Polish .

Schadenfreude as a game idea

Bringing malice and malicious glee into play forms is part of traditional play for children and adults alike. In play education, a distinction is made between harmless joke games such as the Black Peter game or the amusing misleading on April 1st and the psyche of the players in more serious and stressful forms of play. The latter, which are sometimes presented in television shows for the entertainment of the audience, are usually associated with humiliation of the losing player and can have significant consequences for children and sensitive adults in particular for the desire to play and the relationship with the fellow players. Siegbert A. Warwitz and Anita Rudolf let the arguments of proponents and opponents of this controversial game genre have their say in a pro and contra discussion.

Malicious joy in literature and art

Wilhelm Busch: The heme game with widow Bolte.

Wilhelm Busch (1832–1908), with his famous picture stories reaching into the grotesque and macabre , is considered a master of the portrayal of malice and malicious glee. He gives his characters sadistic traits in text and images, which are expressed in humans and animals. The picture stories about the pranks of the rascals Max and Moritz, who are highly controversial in today's pedagogy as children's literature because of their inhuman and animal-torturing acts, have found the greatest distribution :

The roommates in the area gradually all become victims of the very cruel ideas of Max and Moritz. The widow Bolte's chickens strangle the two of them in a thread game and then fish them out of the frying pan. (See picture) They lure the tailor Böck with screams over a wooden footbridge that they have sawn off beforehand, so that he falls into the brook and almost drowns. They fill his tobacco pipe with black powder for the village schoolteacher Lämpel and thus provoke an explosion that causes severe burns. But even the cuddly malefactors do not escape the glee of adults. Accidentally dropped into the flour box and then into a mold filled with dough, the baker bakes them in the oven to make pretzels. However, the two only got their unhappy end on the seventh stroke, when the farmer Mecke brought them to the mill, where they were ground together with his grain and finally consumed as duck feed. (See image)

After the shameful end of the two culprits, the injured adults indulge in glee and satisfaction:

Wilhelm Busch: Master Müller and the gleeful farmer Mecke
Widow Bolte, mild and soft,
said: "Look there, I thought so!"
"Yes, yes, yes!" Called Master Böck,
"Malice is not a purpose in life!"
On top of it, said Mr. Lämpel:
"This is another example!"
"Of course!" Says the confectioner,
"Why is man so delicious!"
Even good Uncle Fritze
said: "That comes from stupid jokes!"
But the good farmer
thought: "What is meck dat ?!"
Briefly around the whole place
went a happy hum:
"Thank God! It's over now
with the wrongdoing !! "


  • Johannes Bilstein, Matthias Winzen , Christoph Wulf (eds.): Anthropology and pedagogy of play (= pedagogical anthropology. Vol. 15). Beltz, Weinheim et al. 2005, ISBN 3-407-32064-7 .
  • Marco Brambilla, Paolo Riva: Self ‐ image and schadenfreude: Pleasure at others' misfortune enhances satisfaction of basic human needs , European Journal of Social Psychology, June 2017, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp. 399–411 doi : 10.1002 / ejsp. 2229
  • Wilhelm Busch: Max and Moritz, a boy story in 7 pranks. 1st edition. Braun and Schneider, Munich 1865, ( digitized and full text in the German text archive ).
  • Wilhelm Busch: Max and Moritz, a boy story in 7 pranks. Completely revised and illustrated edition especially for digital reading devices. 2nd Edition. Null Papier Verlag, Neuss 2011, ISBN 978-3-943466-20-1 .
  • Roger Caillois : The games and the people. Mask and intoxication (= Ullstein 35153). Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1982, ISBN 3-548-35153-0 .
  • Wolfgang Einsiedler : The children's game. On the pedagogy and psychology of children's play. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 1999, ISBN 3-7815-0977-X .
  • Lisa Masemann: Schadenfreude is the greatest joy !? An experimental study of the entertainment value of breakdown videos. Hannover 2012, OCLC 934819469 (Bachelor thesis University of Music, Drama and Media Hannover 2012, IV, 88 pages, 1 CD-ROM).
  • Rolf Oerter : Psychology of the game. 2nd, newly equipped edition. Beltz, Weinheim 1997, ISBN 3-621-27377-8 .
  • Anita Rudolf, Siegbert Warwitz : Playing - rediscovered. Basics - suggestions - help (= Herder library. Volume 952). Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau a. a. 1982, ISBN 3-451-07952-6 .
  • Siegbert A. Warwitz, Anita Rudolf: From the sense of playing. Reflections and game ideas. 4th edition, Schneider Hohengehren, Baltmannsweiler 2016, ISBN 978-3-8340-1664-5 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Schadenfreude  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Schadenfreude. Knowledge Media Verlag.
  2. Tania Singer , Ben Seymour, John P. O'Doherty, Klaas E. Stephan, Raymond J. Dolan, Chris D. Frith: Empathic neural responses are modulated by the perceived fairness of others. In: Nature . Vol. 439, No. 7075, 2006, pp. 466-469, doi : 10.1038 / nature04271 .
  3. ^ Roger Caillois: The games and the people. 1982.
  4. Anita Rudolf, Siegbert A. Warwitz: What playing can achieve. In: A. Rudolf, S. Warwitz: Playing - rediscovered. Herder, Freiburg 1982, pp. 40-45.
  5. Wolfgang Einsiedler: The children's game. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. 1999.
  6. ^ Siegbert A. Warwitz, Anita Rudolf: Hämespiele. In: SA Warwitz, A. Rudolf: From the sense of playing. 4th edition, Verlag Schneider Hohengehren, Baltmannsweiler 2016, pp. 152–160.
  7. ^ Wilhelm Busch: Max and Moritz, a boy story in 7 pranks. 1st edition. Braun and Schneider, Munich 1865.
  8. ^ Siegbert A. Warwitz, Anita Rudolf: Controversial forms of play . In: SA Warwitz, A. Rudolf: From the sense of playing. 4th edition, Verlag Schneider Hohengehren, Baltmannsweiler 2016, pp. 126–160.
  9. ^ Wilhelm Busch: Max and Moritz, a boy story in 7 pranks. 2nd Edition. 2011.