Delectatio morosa  

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"whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" --Jesus, Matthew 5:27–28

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Delectatio morosa, in Catholic theology, is a peevish delight, i.e. pleasure taken in a sinful thought or imagination, such as brooding on sexual images. As voluntary and complacent erotic fantasizing, without attempt to suppress such thoughts, it is distinct from actual sexual desire.

"Delectatio morosa, as understood by the theologians, is distinct from desire, and also distinct from the definite intention of effecting the sexual act, although it may lead to those things. It is the voluntary and complacent dallying in imagination with voluptuous thoughts, when no effort is made to repel them. It is, as Aquinas and others point out, constituted by this act of complacent dallying, and has no reference to the duration of the imaginative process. Debreyne, in his Mœchialogie (pp. 149-163), deals fully with this question, and quotes the opinions of theologians. I may add that in the early Penitentials, before the elaboration of Catholic theology, the voluntary emission of semen through the influence of evil thoughts, was recognized as a sin, though usually only if it occurred in church. In Egbert's Penitential of the eighth or ninth century (cap. IX, 12), the penance assigned for this offence in the case of a deacon, is 25 days; in the case of a monk, 30 days; a priest, 40 days; a bishop, 50." --(Haddon and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents, vol. iii, p. 426.) cited in Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 1

As Schadenfreude

Another phrase with a meaning similar to Schadenfreude is "morose delectation" (delectatio morosa in Latin), meaning, "The habit of dwelling with enjoyment on evil thoughts". The medieval church taught that morose delectation was a sin. French writer Pierre Klossowski maintained that the appeal of sadism is morose delectation.

See also

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