Siegel and Ichikawa on Schadenfreude

August 31, 2020
Siegel and Ichikawa on Schadenfreude
Photo by Ryan Mcguire

Susanna Siegel and Kelsey Ichikawa have written an editorial titled "Why We Revel in Opponents' Adversity" for the Tampa Bay Times. In it, they explain why Schadenfreude is as satisfying as it is politically toxic:

"The logic of emotional manipulation by schadenfreude is simple: if the “other side” has abandoned concern for an opponent’s welfare, the way is cleared for responses that do the same. Just as learning that someone was happy about your injury would probably leave you offended, accusing others of schadenfreude in public will provoke indignation, offense and, ultimately, aggression. It is terrifyingly effective. There may be no more efficient way to sow mutual distrust within a society than to make it appear to be divided into groups that celebrate one another’s pain."

You can read the editorial here. Susanna Siegel is the Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, and Kelsey Ichikawa ('20) wrote her joint philosophy/neuroscience thesis on the nature of Schadenfreude.


See also: Department News