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SCHADENFREUDE: Why do we enjoy seeing others fail?

This Jungian Life

Release Date: 03/22/2023

IDENTITY CRISIS: When Our Story Falls Apart show art IDENTITY CRISIS: When Our Story Falls Apart

This Jungian Life

How can understanding and reshaping our personal narratives help us navigate and overcome identity crises during major life transitions? A Narrative Identity Crisis occurs when the evolving story we create to make sense of our lives—integrating past experiences, present realities, and future aspirations—becomes disrupted, leading to profound disorientation and psychological distress. This crisis can be triggered by significant life changes, traumatic events, or conflicting social and cultural pressures, causing our coherent self-narrative to fragment. Memory, meaning-making, and emotional...

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This Jungian Life

How can we harness inner strength and resilience to transform personal fears and adversities into growth and joy? In our "Six Swans Jungian Analysis," we explore how a fairytale reveals profound insights into transformation, resilience, and the complexities of human emotions. Through a sister's silent endurance, a king's protective instincts, and the ultimate triumph of truth, we can also discover our own inner strength, sacrifice, and personal growth. The fairytale "The Six Swans" teaches us about the enduring human spirit, the transformative power of love, and the journey toward...

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Two Red Books: The Shared Imaginal Realms of Jung and Tolkien show art Two Red Books: The Shared Imaginal Realms of Jung and Tolkien

This Jungian Life

How can the shared imaginal realms of Jung and Tolkien empower us to navigate our personal journeys and transform our understanding of self and community? In exploring the uncanny shared imaginal realms of Jung and Tolkien, author Becca Tarnas uncovers a profound intersection of depth psychology and mythopoeic literature, revealed in their seminal Red Books. Amid the early 20th century's upheaval, both authors undertook personal and universal journeys into the psyche, employing active imagination to engage archetypes such as the shadow, anima, and hero. Their works, brimming with symbolic...

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Encounters with Light: Jung's near-death experiences show art Encounters with Light: Jung's near-death experiences

This Jungian Life

How can near-death experiences challenge and expand our understanding of consciousness and its connection to the transcendent? Carl Jung's near-death experience profoundly deepened his understanding of the psyche and its connection to the universal consciousness, reinforcing his belief in life beyond physical existence. During this transformative episode, he observed Earth from a distance, encountered mystical figures, and experienced a temple-like structure within a meteoric stone, enriching his theories on the collective unconscious and archetypal imagery. This experience left an indelible...

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How can understanding different aspects of martyrdom help us navigate personal sacrifices and societal expectations in our search for a meaningful life? Individuals with a martyr complex often seek validation for their pain and suffering, which can be a source of protection and nurturing. It can also be a form of manipulation where personal suffering is used to influence or control the reactions of others. This behavior can be harmful, leading individuals to persist in unhealthy relationships or dangerous situations under the guise of nobility or duty. It is important to distinguish between...

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Encountering a total eclipse can evoke a primal connection to nature and the infinite, constellating a deep sense of belonging to the universe and each other. Eclipses profoundly impact observers, evoking awe, transcendence, and a shared sense of unity. These celestial events encourage deep personal reflection and stronger social connections among those who witness them. They transform ordinary moments into extraordinary ones, re-enchanting the world and reinforcing the bond between humanity, nature, and the cosmos. Mysterious and awe-filled, in ancient times, Eclipses inspired myths and...

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This Jungian Life

How do dreams intrude upon our Psyche, our roles in others' lives, and our societal identities? "Dream Scenario" is a thought-provoking new film that explores the uncanny power of the collective unconscious to shape culture and be shaped by it. In the movie, Nicholas Cage's character Paul mysteriously starts appearing in others' dreams across the globe. He grapples with the fear of being randomly celebrated by the collective and later demonized. Kate Berlant's role in the film and insights into Jungian analysis and dream interpretation launch our conversation into the growing presence of...

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This Jungian Life

How do we invisibly transfer our emotions to others, and what magic lies in revealing this unseen dance? Projective identification is like unconsciously tossing our feelings into someone else, a behavior first noticed in babies with their moms. It's an invisible way we influence others based on our buried issues, avoiding dealing with our tough emotions by making others express them for us. Facing up to this pattern can help us understand ourselves better and grow. Often, this cycle kicks off with blaming others, triggering a domino effect that reveals deeper, hidden struggles within us....

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Everyday Animism: Did Jung speak to his pots and pans? show art Everyday Animism: Did Jung speak to his pots and pans?

This Jungian Life

How do our interactions with the seemingly mundane objects around us reflect and influence our deeper psychological processes and connections with the broader universe? Jung held a fascinating belief in the soulful essence of inanimate objects. He engaged in daily greetings with his kitchenware at Bollingen Tower, expressing a unique form of animism that extended deeply into his personal and professional life. His collection of beer steins, each with its name, served not only as vessels for drink but as partners in dialogue, reflecting his practice of active imagination. This relationship with...

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VULGARITY: What's Its True Power? show art VULGARITY: What's Its True Power?

This Jungian Life

How does the interplay between vulgarity and societal norms reflect and shape the human experience of freedom, creativity, and psychological depth?   Our collective fascination with vulgarity, obscenity, and profanity lies in the thrill of transgression and the need to articulate the unspoken aspects of human experience. As we navigate social acceptability, the vulgar mirrors our deepest shadow and wildest laughter, a space where sacred and profane dance in the liminal light of truth and rebellion. Engaging vulgarity challenges the rigid confines of propriety. Embracing discomfort and...

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More Episodes

Schadenfreude, the joy in someone else’s misfortune, is a common human experience. We often feel it when someone we believe deserves it embarrasses themselves or is caught in a scandal. Nietzsche once said, “Humor is just schadenfreude with a clear conscience.” This is true, as many comedic scenes involve some form of hilarious undoing. However, when this pleasure becomes malicious, it can be troubling.

Some rules govern schadenfreude. We feel pleasure when an envied person is shamed because it tarnishes their status, making them seem less superior. We delight in the failure of the opposing team because we feel enhanced by the success of our side. Distributing humiliating information about a public figure across social media delights certain influencers, and those who pass it on feel a secret joy in expanding the denigration. Dehumanization is at the core of this kind of schadenfreude.

Children as young as six display signs of pleasure in seeing peers fail but are pressured to hide their glee. Compensation restores inner balance when we go too far, and we’ll dream of arriving naked for a test to put us back in our place. Contemporary culture encourages schadenfreude when historically unsuccessful groups, carrying painful feelings of inferiority, externalize their anger towards a competing group. When the latter is harmed,  rage can convert to pleasure. It temporarily relieves inner anguish.

However, we should feel sobered by all antisocial qualities and meet them with ethical restraint. Religious texts offer warnings that suggest the unconscious will react to unrestrained schadenfreude.

“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth…”

(Proverbs 24:17-18, King James Version).

Delight in our enemies’ harm can turn the Self away from its preserving and protective role, leaving the ego vulnerable to collective shadow and unpredictable tumult. The only remedy for schadenfreude is empathy.

When we outgrow our feelings of inferiority, rage, shame, competition, and malice, we may discover a grace that emanates from the Self. A spiritual quality of kindness that grants us the ability to suffer-with. Grounded in understanding, we can find the power to stand side-by-side with the accused, the misfortuned, the scapegoated, the exiled, the abandoned, and the shamed. Offering them comfort and good counsel as they go on to what lies before them.

HERE’S THE DREAM WE ANALYZE:

 “I am in my childhood bedroom with my boyfriend. He is lying on the bed, and I am standing facing him. I wear lingerie, white fishnet stockings, and a cobalt blue lace bra. I felt good about how I looked, and I felt desired by him. There was sexual energy and anticipation. I said I’d be right back; I needed to go to the bathroom. I exit the bedroom, turn the dark corner, and stumble upon a creepy doll in the darkness. She was hand sewn, looked like a kind of rag doll or like Sally from A Nightmare Before Christmas, and she notably had two embroidered circles on the top right of her head, which were unfinished, the needle and thread still hanging from there. I wasn’t scared of how she looked, but this doll evoked a faint sense of horror in me. Her presence felt jarring, emotionally charged, and possibly ominous. I turned around the corner with it in my hands to show it to my boyfriend.”

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