Don't ever mistake Schadenfreude for sadism. Although similar, there is a distinction between them

In a message I received on Whatsapp, the author of the message projects "Schadenfreude" as the synonym of "sadist". He even advocates that the former (Schadenfreude) should be used instead of the latter (sadist), with the claim that "Schadenfreude" best describes a person who derives joy from another person's misfortune. See a part of the message below.

Don't ever mistake SCHADENFREUDE for SADISM! Although similar, there is a distinction between them.

I totally disagree with the assertion of this writer hence the publication of this article. First of all, Schadenfreude is not a person but a feeling. Although both words best describe the malicious enjoyment derived from someone else’s mishap, there is a glaring difference between them. The difference between these words is "involvement".

In Schadenfreude, you did not inflict the pain but derives joy from the person's pain. However, in sadism, you are the cause of the person's misfortune and also derive joy from the person's misfortune. For example, Schadenfreude would be when you see someone crying and find it entertaining while sadism would be when you intentionally make someone cry for entertainment. And one who does this is called a sadist. Based on this example and explanation, every human has Schadenfreude and exhibits it at one point in time, but not all humans have sadism. Therefore, stating that "Schadenfreude" is a "person" is totally wrong. It should rather be seen as a “feeling” demonstrated by humans.

Meanwhile if you are meeting Schadenfreude for the first time, it is pronounced as "Sha-din-froider". This is not the transcription but a way of helping you get the real pronunciation.

Tamuno Reuben

Those who seek knowledge seek power because the pen is mightier than the sword.


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