TITLE: The Complement of Schadenfreude AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 28, 2008 7:10 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Does it have a name? Of course, Schadenfreude itself doesn't really have a name in English. It is a German word that means roughly delight in another person's misfortune. (However, I see that Wikipedia offers one, the 300+-year-old, apparently abandoned "epicaricacy".) Last semester, a colleague described what struck me as the complement of Schadenfreude. He reported that one of our close friends, a retired professor here, expressed a strong unhappiness or distaste for faculty who succeeded in publishing academic papers. This matters to him because he is one of those folks. His friend came to the university in a different era, when we were a teacher's college without any pretension to being a comprehensive university. The new faculty who publish and talk about their research, she said, are "just showing off". Their success caused her pain, even if they didn't brag about their success. This is not the opposite of Schadenfreude. That is happiness in another's good fortune, which Wikipedia tells us matches the Buddhist concept of mudita. What our friend feels inverts both the emotion and the trigger. I don't think that her condition corresponds to envy. When someone is envious, they want what someone else has. Our friend doesn't want what the others have; she is saddened, almost angered, that others have it. No one should. The closest concept I can think of is "sour grapes", a metaphor from one of Aesop's beloved fables. But in this story, the fox does want the grapes, and professes to despise them only when he can't reach them. I believe that our friend really doesn't want the success of research; she earnestly believes that our mission is to teach, not publish, and that energy spent doing research is energy misspent. And that makes her feel bad. When my colleague told me his story, I joked that the name for this condition should be freudenschade. I proposed this even though I know a little German and know how non-sensical it is. But it seemed fun. Sadly, I wasn't the first person to coin the word... Google tells me that at least one other person has. You may be tempted to say that I feel freudenschade that someone else coined the term "freudenschade" first, but I don't. What I feel is envy! The particular story that led to my discussion is almost beside the point. I'm on a mission that has moved beyond it. I am not aware of a German word for the complement of Schadenfreude. Nor am I aware of an English word for it. Is there a word for it anywhere, in English, German, or some other language? I'm curious... Perhaps the Lazyweb can help me. -----