Let's say I have the following situation:

Student: Professor, do you have the answers for the questions on your textbook?

Professor: No. When I was a student like you, we had to struggle to answer them on our own.

If the professor decided to do so solely because he wanted everyone else to "suffer" the same as he did, did he/she do it out of _____?

As far as I have searched here, I did not find a specific word for this kind of "forcing an empathy".

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    You appear to ask for the reason why the professor behaved that way, which is an opinon-based issue. – user66974 Aug 26 '15 at 11:04
  • I thought of that old favourite schadenfreude but it lacks the meaning of the professor having suffered first. – EleventhDoctor Aug 26 '15 at 12:30
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    This professor really has "Protestant Work Ethic!" – Fattie Aug 26 '15 at 14:24
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    Relevant words that come to mind are "bitterness" ("he made us do it the old way out of bitterness, since he had to do it that way as a kid!") or as others have said "spite". I really don't think there's an SWR for "wanting them to suffer, because he did"... – Fattie Aug 26 '15 at 14:26
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    It's worth noting that "I want you to suffer just like I did!" is, not so much an idiom or 'common phrase', but that is, indeed, let us say the usual way you phrase that exact sentiment. – Fattie Aug 26 '15 at 14:28

Your question doesn't really seem to be in line with your example. "Spite" could be an answer to your question as posed, although it doesn't hold that precise meaning of the individual having suffered previously.

It seems like your professor just believes that working for the answers will help you learn them better, not that he wants everyone to suffer as he did. Were it the latter, I'd call it "spite," which seems to be your question- but I don't have a word for what I perceive his actual intent as.

  • Indeed. it's unclear if the prof is saying I want you to suffer just like I did - you bastards!", or, quite differently, Unfortunately I believe the best teaching solution here is the old-fashioned approach, which for example I had to suffer through in school – Fattie Aug 26 '15 at 14:29
  • I suspect if it hadn't come across as spiteful we would not be reading this question here! I like out of spite, but it does have a major problem. It doesn't make the connection to the professor's experiences as a student. – aparente001 Aug 29 '15 at 19:23
  • @gp782 I think it's obvious what the question is. We're not trying to defend the professor here! Additionally in the example he's not saying he did it out of desire to make them suffer as he did, we're asking "did he?". – That One Actor Apr 3 '17 at 17:43

The professor refused to provide answers to the exercises, in an ill-conceived attempt to toughen us up or impose his own student sufferings on us.

Also, I'm getting a bit of a feeling of a hazing ritual, but I haven't been able to come up with a sentence using that.


Tough love is the word I would use.

You would be surprised how many students will just look at the answers and think they're able to do the exercises.


Although your question is good, your example, even with the edit, is almost as out of place as this hyphenated, two-word answer:

… did he/she do it out of pay-it-forward revenge/vengeance?

(“Revenge, Paid Forward” from QuinnCreative)

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