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Schadenfreude is the joy or pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. What is the word for the feeling of discomfort derived from witnessing the misfortunes of others?

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Sounds a lot like empathy in a general sense. Pity or angst may apply. Wikipedia refers to it as "empathic distress". –  Zairja Oct 18 '12 at 0:49

2 Answers 2

Compassion: "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it".

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Commiseration: a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others

I think there is a subtle difference between commiseration and compassion, where commiseration involves actually feeling miserable along with the other person while compassion aims more toward the desire to alleviate it.

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Good point. Compassion: I feel your pain and I want to help you alleviate it. Commiseration: I feel your pain and have to cry about it as much as you do, but I don't necessarily want to help you alleviate it. Schadenfreude: I see your pain and it gives me great pleasure. Is there anything I can do to increase it? –  user21497 Oct 18 '12 at 1:54

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