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Schadenfreude: Celebrating the Misfortune of Others


Like Sunday afternoon visits to London’s fetid insane asylums, we stare and gawk, fascinated yet repulsed, at unfortunates like Joseph Merrick (1862–1890). Joseph Merrick—incorrectly identified as “John Merrick” and also known as “The Elephant Man,” his degrading stage name—attained a macabre celebrity status not because of wealth, success, or glamorous looks, but because of a grotesque physical deformity.