Ole Ravnholt ravnholt at HUM.AUC.DK
Wed May 7 07:32:20 UTC 1997

30 seconds after I sent my last posting that indicated my meanness with
respect to "skadefryd", Hartmut Haberland wrote:

>Note that if a car overtakes you at 250 kms/h (155 mph) on a German
>motorway, and you see it crashed against a tree a few kilometers down the
>road, then (my informants agree) you don't feel Schadenfreude, since the
>"punishment" is just out of proportion. But if you see the car stopped by
>the police, Schadenfreude seems to describe what you would feel.

I am not that mean either. The "misfortune" is far too serious for that. -
But I maintain that it is not necessary to see the misfortune as a sort of
punishment to experience "skadefryd". I remember somebody once saying to me
something like: "Your own success is fine, but thy neighbour's failure is
not to be despised" which appears to be a rather accurate account of
"skadefryd". "Skadefryd" is what you experience when somebody slips on a
banana peel and bumps his behind a bit, whether he deserved it or not -
just look at the home videos they show on TV, and you´ll know.

Ole Ravnholt

Ole Ravnholt
Institut for Kommunikation/Department of Communication
Aalborg Universitet
Langagervej 8                             phone:  +45 96 35 90 27
DK-9220 Aalborg Ø                         fax:    +45 98 15 94 34
Denmark                                   email:  ravnholt at

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