For as long as I can remember I’ve had a distinct problem with embarrassment. Not being embarrassed for myself (that is another issue, so I guess saying I have problems with embarrassment is more truthful), but for others. Even in situations that I know are completely manufactured, like the plots of bad sitcoms. When watching a TV show, I’ll often flip the channel as soon as the character starts doing something that will ultimately lead to their humiliation. As you can imagine, I don’t watch much TV these days due to the preponderance of reality shows, which were basically created to have people embarrass themselves in every episode.
Anyway, I finally discovered the word that describes this particular aspect of my craziness:
Fremdschämen – A German term which describes the process of being vicariously embarrassed by someone else. For example when somebody’s concept for a great party gag goes terrible wrong and you watch him fail in the middle of all of his friends.
Isn’t it nice being able to categorize your neuroses?!