Paging Dr. Schadenfreude

In Kurt Vonnegut’s book, TimeQuake, ©1997, there is a story-within-a-story.  Vonnegut’s alter-ego, Kilgore Trout, pens a short story about a psychiatrist who only allows his patients to talk about other people:

The name of the shrink was the name of the story, too, which was “Dr. Schadenfreude.” This doctor had his patients lie on the couch and talk, all right, but they could ramble on only about dumb or crazy things that had happened to total strangers in supermarket tabloids or on TV talk shows.

If a patient accidentally said “I” or “me” or “my” or “myself” or “mine,” Dr. Schadenfreude went ape. He leapt out of his overstuffed leather chair. He stamped his feet. He flapped his arms.

He put his livid face directly over the patient. He snarled and barked things like this: “When will you ever learn that nobody cares anything about you, you, you, you boring, insignificant piece of poop? Your whole problem is you think you matter! Get over that, or sashay your stuck-up butt the hell out of here!”

It’s my belief that nearly all of the world’s problems are caused by self-centeredness, which is probably why that little tantrum has such appeal for me.


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