I have this strange thing where if I’m the cause of making a friend cry and I smile. It gives me a small giddy feeling that I’m the reason they’re crying, I even giggle sometimes. I even have to fight back a smile if they’re crying in front of me. I know this is terrible is there something wrong with me?

A. You smile and giggle when you’re the cause of making a friend cry but you didn’t say what you “enjoy” about it. Do you enjoy being a shoulder to lean on? Do you revel in the opportunity to cheer up an unhappy person? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then perhaps you “enjoy” their sadness because it gives you an opportunity to express your kindness and compassion. I don’t suspect that is the case but I don’t have enough information to offer a definitive answer.

Most people try to avoid hurting others and when they do hurt others, they feel guilty. However, that isn’t true for everyone. For some people, inflicting pain on others is pleasurable and exciting. Recent findings from psychological studies have indicated that there may be a certain number of “well-adjusted people” in the general population who demonstrate sadistic tendencies.

Despite the fact that sadistic tendencies were found among some “well-adjusted” individuals, it’s not a healthy psychological trait. The researchers referred to above linked sadistic tendencies to other unhealthy personality traits, including psychopathy and narcissism. Researchers believe that individuals who demonstrate higher levels of sadistic tendencies are not necessarily “serial killers or sexual deviants but they gain some emotional benefit from causing or simply observing others suffering.”

I would need to learn more about why you derive enjoyment from making people cry to know if there is “something wrong” with you. Generally speaking, the desire to want to purposefully hurt others is unhealthy and concerning. Counseling could help you better understand this issue. It’s never okay to intentionally hurt someone. It’s unkind, and uncompassionate. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle