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Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Is there a word...

...to describe the kind of person who's very brave about bearing up under the pain of others? Or a slang phrase?

And if not, is there one in German? The language that gave us schadenfreude (happiness at the misfortune of others) and scheissenbedaurn (regret at things not turning out as badly as you'd hoped) really ought to have a word for this.

And failing that, can anyone suggest one?

Do you mean others are being painful to the person in question, or that the person in question doesn't mind the pain of others?
If I understand what you're talking about, you could allude to the book of Job and call them "worthless physicians". But I can't think of an actual word.

(Forgive me not signing in, but I can't figure out right now which scripts to enable. CAPTCHA="mingy". Oh dear.)
'Stalwart' was the first word to come to my mind... and now that it's there it won't leave.
Job's comforter isn't quite right, is it?

-julie paradox
Do you mean others are being painful to the person in question, or that the person in question doesn't mind the pain of others?

The latter.

It's having gone through a bad birth recently that's put the idea in my mind. People seem to really enjoy telling you the pain you're feeling is natural, and to feel this somehow makes them good people with superior powers of endurance. Women in labour are particularly vulnerable to such types, but I suspect most of us have met someone like that at some point or other.
Bravely sociopathic?
The closest I can get is "chickenhawk", which isn't really the same.
Endurance by proxy?
In my more cynical moods, "doctor."

Not that you want your doctor to be an emotional wreck about pain, but you know what I mean:

"This may cause a little discomfort."
Considering the current political circumstances here in the States (re: Congress probably ramming through a tax "plan" that will effectively raise taxes on those making below $40K per year), I'd go with "Republican".
I've been thinking about this since you posted it. There certainly should be such a word, and the phenomenon is common enough that one would want a term for it. I like extending the term "chickenhawk" for it: true, the term's current meaning is "someone avid for war provided someone else fights it," but I think the combination of cowardice in "chicken" and predatoriness in "hawk" aptly evoke what you're talking about.
back-seat masochist?

also gonna suggest 'reactup' cause it's the captcha, and it sounds kind of agro. :)
Personally I wouldn't want to use 'chickenhawk': it's a very useful word - politically vital, I'd say - with a specific meaning for which there's no equivalent, and multiplying its meanings would reduce its impact. Too, 'hawk' has a military air, being heavily associated with military insignia, and in my experience the - back-seat stoics? - aren't directly aggressive in that way. They're usually passive-aggressive, implying you're less virtuous than them if you can't deal with your pain as well as they can.

When it comes to pregnancy, birth and babycare, my general term for such people - that is, people who think it's all easy and uplifting as long as you have the right attitude and love to judge people who have uncomfortable pregnancies, find they can't do natural childbirth, struggle to breastfeed and so on (usually for involuntary physical reasons, which get interpreted as character flaws) - is 'the Lactatorship.' (Co-credit for the phrase to my husband.) But I don't think it's just an obstetrical issue; I just think childbearing brings a lot of such people out of the woodwork.
"Stoic by proxy"?
Dash beat me to it, so I'll add the other suggestion that came to mind: "buttheads".

Though I suppose you could get some mileage out of "Stoicer-than-thou" if you can get past the grammatical issues...
Fran├žois de La Rochefoucauld, a 17th century french moralist, wrote :

"Nous avons tous assez de force pour supporter les maux d'autrui."
(We all are strong enough to bear other people's pains)

So he thought everybody was a potential - "Stoicer-than-thou" ?
Huh. I wasn't thinking about "stoick-er-than-thou," I was thinking about the opposite -- someone who has the stolid courage, warm heart and cool head to pull you off a subway track as the train bears down, or run over and apply the Heimlich maneuver, or prove to you that everything's going to be all right -- rather than running away and hiding under the bed, as I tend to do. "Hero," perhaps?
Are you thinking of this as a character virtue, or as a character fault?

I can see this being a virtue - it can be difficult to be around someone who is suffering, and being able to stay with a person through their pain, to help and care for them, is a virtue.

But I can also see this as a fault, the ability to dismiss and belittle the suffering of others, because it doesn't look so bad from the outside.

I suspect we need two words, one for the virtue and one for the vice.
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