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Whatever Gets You Through Today: An Examination of Cynical Humor Among Emergency Service Professionals
Of the multiple types of coping used by those working in emergency services, one of the most familiar is cynical, gallows, or “black” humor. This article reviews the theoretical and research literature on humor, and specifically black humor, and suggests that it is not only almost universally utilized by emergency personnel, but that it is vital to their profession. In stressful life-and-death situations, individuals use black humor as a method of venting their feelings, eliciting social support through the development of group cohesion, and distancing themselves from a situation, ensuring that they can act effectively.