A hilarious quest to understand life's ultimate guilty pleasure - in a beautiful gift package.
'Nothing makes the world gleam like bad people getting the fate they deserve. For one glorious moment, the stars align, the universe delivers, and the commuter who barged past us all down the station stairs misses the train'
Schadenfreude - enjoying the pain and failures of others - is an all-too-familiar feeling. It has perplexed philosophers and psychologists for centuries but, in a time of polarised politics, twitter trolls and 'sidebars of shame', has never been more relevant. Recent studies have shown that we smile more at a rival's loss than at our own success. No wonder we're said to be living in the 'Age of Schadenfreude'. But why can it be so much fun to witness another's distress? And what, if anything, should we do about it?
In Schadenfreude, historian of emotions Tiffany Watt Smith offers expert insight and advice. Ranging across thinkers from Nietzsche to Homer Simpson, investigating the latest scientific research, and collecting some outrageous confessions on the way - she reveals how everyone, babies, nuns, your most trusted friends, are enjoying your misfortunes. But rather than an emotional glitch, she argues, Schadenfreude can reveal profound truths about our relationships with others and our sense of who we are.
Frank, warm and laugh-out-loud funny, Schadenfreude makes the case for thinking afresh about this much-maligned emotion - and perhaps, even, embracing it.
Tiffany Watt Smith is a Research Fellow at the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions, and was a 2014 BBC New Generation Thinker. Before beginning her career in academia she worked as a theatre director for seven years, including stints as Associate Director at the Arcola Theatre and International Associate Director at the Royal Court. She lives in London.
Schadenfreude is published in association with Wellcome Collection, a free museum and library that aims to challenge how we think and feel about health. Inspired by the medical objects and curiosities collected by Henry Wellcome, it connects science, medicine, life and art. Wellcome Collection exhibitions, events and books explore a diverse range of subjects, including consciousness, forensic medicine, emotions, sexology, identity and death.