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Freud's theory of humor.

Freuds Theory of Humor
Maria Christoff and Barry Dauphin
Department of Psychology, University of
Detroit Mercy, Detroit, MI, USA
Freuds theory of jokes;Freuds theory of joke-
work;Psychoanalytic theory of humor;Psycho-
analytic theory of humor;Psychoanalytic theory
of jokes
The following entry describes Freuds(1900,
1905,1928) psychoanalytic theory of jokes,
humor, and their relation to unconscious
In The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) Sigmund
Freud made many preliminary connections
between the psychic processes found in the pro-
duction of dreams and with the production of
humor. Encouraged by a correspondence with
his friend Wilhelm Fliess, Freud went on to
write a book entirely devoted to an examination
of the comic, humor, and jokes, entitled Jokes and
their Relation to the Unconscious (1905). Freud
later reected that this work considered humor
really from the economic view alone,and
remedied this with the short paper Humour
(1928), which included a view of humor from
his revised structural model of the psyche (p. 1).
Freuds structural model was largely developed
in The Ego and the Id (1923/1961) and can be
reviewed there. The main text of this entry
summarizes Freuds contributions made to the
psychoanalytic theory of humor. Later psychoan-
alytic developments are brought to bear on
Freuds theory on humor.
In his 1905 text, Freud states that the unconscious
processes involved in the development of jokes
are nearly identical to those involved in dreaming.
In dreaming, preconscious day residue,includ-
ing desires and impulses repressed from con-
sciousness, are ltered through the dynamic
unconscious portion of the psyche (p. 160).
These desires and impulses have been defensively
denied due to their lack of accordance with
learned societal restrictions upon acceptable
behavior and expression. In order for the sleeper
to stay asleep, instead of being disturbed by the
processing of such material, the unconscious dis-
guises it, giving it a revised form, which is no
longer threatening, and makes this material acces-
sible to consciousness. This entire process is
#Springer International Publishing AG 2017
V. Zeigler-Hill, T.K. Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_588-1
called dream-work. Joke-work, the waking corre-
late of dream-work, has many similarities. Jokes
seem to come to their creator complete, in a
momentary period of blankness, signaling their
emergence from the unconscious mind, similar
to the current bottom-up processing theory of
cognitive psychology (Rauss and Pourtois 2013).
More importantly, the joke-work transforms unac-
ceptable impulses and emotions into pleasurable
ones, by means of replacing obscenity, aggres-
sion, cynicism, and deep skepticism with laughter.
The dream-work and joke-work alike make use of
the following psychic tools to complete these
transformations: condensation, displacement,
and indirect representation. Condensation makes
use of the multiple meanings of words, for exam-
ple in the joke, The man walked into the bar and
said, Ouch.’” Displacement, or modication,
refers to slight differences in words or word
usage, or the formation of composite words,
which leads to humorous formulations. Freud
(1905) gives this example: A horse-dealer was
recommending a saddle-horse to a customer. If
you take this horse and get on it at four in the
morning youll be at Pressburg by half-past six.’–
What should I be doing in Pressburg at half-past
six in the morning?’” (p. 54). Indirect representa-
tion includes such joke-techniques as absurdity,
faulty reasoning, and analogies. Freud (1905)
gives an example: Everyone has his moral back-
side, which he does not show except in case of
need and which he covers as long as possible with
the breeches of respectability,(p. 84). Whereas
dream-work seeks to minimize displeasure, joke-
work seeks to maximize pleasure. Freud (1905)
adds, all our mental activities converge in these
two aims,(p. 180).
Economy of Joking
In order to describe this economic convergence of
the two aims of minimizing displeasure and max-
imizing pleasure, Freud asked why the person
who thought of the joke feels it needs to be told,
and what psychic processes take place in the lis-
tener, versus the teller. In the teller of the joke,
psychic energy is occupied in repressing from
consciousness, for example, feelings of aggres-
sion towards another person. Through uncon-
scious joke-work, the energy formerly occupied
by repression is released, and the aggression
becomes expressible, in a now innocuous form,
a joke. However, the rst person uses psychic
energy in the unconscious processes of creating
the joke. In telling the joke to a third person, and
making this third person laugh, the rst person is
able to observe the laughter of the third person,
and share in a further release of energy through
mutual laughter. For the listener, the repressed
impulse is presented and released in quick succes-
sion, allowing for a rapid and intense experience
of pleasure. For both the teller and the hearer of
the joke, empathy and a placing of oneself into the
thought processes of the other are essential for this
procedure to be successful. The thinking of one
mind into another described by Freud resembles
the subsequent theory of mind proposed by Pre-
mack and Woodruff (1978). However, Freud
(1905) goes beyond reliance on empathy alone
and suggests a form of ideational mimetics,
(p. 192) quite similar to recent research into the
function of mirror neurons (Rizzolatti and
Craighero, 2004), in which the listener uncon-
sciously imagines themselves in the place of the
teller. The complex exchange between teller and
listener in the joking process described by Freud
(1905) also foreshadows the later object relations
concept of projective identication described by
Klein (1975), Bion (1983), and Bollas (1987), in
which psychic energies are constantly being
exchanged in the course of normal and psycho-
therapeutic interactions, and in which the inner
psychic economy is intimately tied to the psychic
processes within others. In this mutual exchange,
laughter is a relaxation of tension,and a release
from constraint,for both parties (Freud 1905,
p. 147).
The Highest of Defensive Processes
In conclusion to his 1905 book, Freud declares
that humor, like repression, is a defensive process.
Although he noted that, We get an impression
that the subjective determinants of the joke-work
2 Freuds Theory of Humor
are often not far removed from those of neurotic
illness,and the joker is a disunited personality,
disposed to neurotic disorders,he quickly
dismissed any inherent connection between
humor and neurosis (Freud 1905, p. 142). Instead,
he concluded that humorous displacement, unlike
other defense mechanisms, directly faces the per-
ceived psychic threat. Humor acknowledges the
existence of the threatening affect and transforms
it through the mechanisms described above into
pleasurable affect. In his 1928 paper, Freud
amends that this healthy defensive maneuver is
made possible through the Is alignment with the
Above-I, the internalized voices of our parents as
they encouraged us to be brave, to adopt a
humorous attitude to ward off suffering,to buck
up, and persevere (Freud 1928, p. 3). In this way,
it can still help us to adapt to lifes challenges. In
Freuds(1928) words, Humor is not resigned; it
is rebellious. It signies the triumph not only of
the ego, but also of the pleasure-principle, which
is strong enough to assert itself here in the face the
adverse real circumstances,(p. 2).
In conclusion, this entry reviewed Freuds(1905)
comparison of dream-work and joke-work, pre-
sented a summation of the economic model of
jokes including internal psychic processes taking
place in both the teller and the listener, and sum-
marized Freuds(1928) additions to his theory of
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Freuds Theory of Humor 3
... Martin inSuyasa: 2010) This is in line with Freud's theory of humor stating that humor is like a dream; both are a means to inhibit obstacles from outside or obstacles that already exist in a person. In dreams ideas that are not in line with expectations can be manipulated while in humor the same thing happens, namely the manipulation of a reality.(Christoff, and Dauphin: 2017) ...
The marriage vows spoken out through the wedding have existed for a long time. Even the first expression of love should always be remembered. The married couple, when undergoing problems in the household, must always remember the beautiful moments during the loving relationship to relieve conflicts between them. This is because people cannot erase mistakes, either intentionally done or not. This is the essence of this research, which focused on the ways to the Shangri-La marriage. Qualitative descriptive research methods were applied in this study by analyzing words, phrases and sentences in the novel Good Wives. The research found that the elements that must be owned by the couple are: phlegmatic attitude and anti-violence; responsibility and awareness of realizing their obligation; forgiving, implemented on the basis of the consideration that every human makes mistakes; and a sense of humor, an effort to cheer up life with the thought that there must be a balance in life, between tragedy and comedy, or sadness and happiness. Keywords: Shangri-La, Phlegmatic Attitude, Responsibility, Forgiving, Humor
... In the 18 th century, the attitude towards humour ameliorated and was "considered normal behavior" (Morrison, 2008, p. 15). In his book Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1960), Freud referred to jokes as verbal forms of humour and declared that it is a "defensive process" in regaining "pleasurable affect" (As cited in Christoff & Dauphin, 2017). In 1988, the psychologists Long and Graesser (as cited in Martin, 2007) defined humour as "anything done or said, purposely or inadvertently, that is found to be comical or amusing" (p. ...
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This study examines the benefits of using humour in the language classroom. It investigates the incorporation of humour in the classroom and how it can facilitate and create pertinent conditions for learning and teaching. It probes students' attitudes towards their teachers' humour, and whether they consider it a learning aid or not. The study used a quasi-experiment that involved two tests and two groups of students: a treatment group and a control one. The pre-test and post-test results and findings revealed that humour facilitates learning and teaching by reducing anxiety, increasing motivation, encouraging participation, boosting concentration and improving retention.
Since the end of 2019 to the present day, the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting the functioning of countries, institutions and individuals. So far, despite the increasing number of studies, little is known about the effects of the pandemic on the psychosocial well-being of a person. Research results obtained to date suggest that the fear of COVID-19 may be reduced by humor. However, to be able to harness this observation to provide more effective psychological assistance to those struggling with serious concerns about the aftermaths of the pandemic, one has to understand the mechanisms of the relationship between humor and fear of COVID-19. Both clinical experience and research findings show that the postulated relationship may be mediated by generalized anxiety. In the present study, we investigated the relationship between humor, conceptualized as a dimension of wisdom, and fear of COVID-19, and the role of generalized anxiety as a potential mediator of this relationship in adults. A longitudinal three-wave field study was carried out in a sample of 214 adults from Poland. A mediation analysis with bias-corrected bootstrapping method confirmed that the relation between humor and fear of COVID-19 was mediated by generalized anxiety.
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Everyone knows what bottom-up is, and how it is different from top-down. At least one is tempted to think so, given that both terms are ubiquitously used, but only rarely defined in the psychology and neuroscience literature. In this review, we highlight the problems and limitations of our current understanding of bottom-up and top-down processes, and we propose a reformulation of this distinction in terms of predictive coding.
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An individual has a theory of mind if he imputes mental states to himself and others. A system of inferences of this kind is properly viewed as a theory because such states are not directly observable, and the system can be used to make predictions about the behavior of others. As to the mental states the chimpanzee may infer, consider those inferred by our own species, for example, purpose or intention, as well as knowledge, belief, thinking, doubt, guessing, pretending, liking, and so forth. To determine whether or not the chimpanzee infers states of this kind, we showed an adult chimpanzee a series of videotaped scenes of a human actor struggling with a variety of problems. Some problems were simple, involving inaccessible food – bananas vertically or horizontally out of reach, behind a box, and so forth – as in the original Kohler problems; others were more complex, involving an actor unable to extricate himself from a locked cage, shivering because of a malfunctioning heater, or unable to play a phonograph because it was unplugged. With each videotape the chimpanzee was given several photographs, one a solution to the problem, such as a stick for the inaccessible bananas, a key for the locked up actor, a lit wick for the malfunctioning heater. The chimpanzee's consistent choice of the correct photographs can be understood by assuming that the animal recognized the videotape as representing a problem, understood the actor's purpose, and chose alternatives compatible with that purpose.
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A category of stimuli of great importance for primates, humans in particular, is that formed by actions done by other individuals. If we want to survive, we must understand the actions of others. Furthermore, without action understanding, social organization is impossible. In the case of humans, there is another faculty that depends on the observation of others' actions: imitation learning. Unlike most species, we are able to learn by imitation, and this faculty is at the basis of human culture. In this review we present data on a neurophysiological mechanism--the mirror-neuron mechanism--that appears to play a fundamental role in both action understanding and imitation. We describe first the functional properties of mirror neurons in monkeys. We review next the characteristics of the mirror-neuron system in humans. We stress, in particular, those properties specific to the human mirror-neuron system that might explain the human capacity to learn by imitation. We conclude by discussing the relationship between the mirror-neuron system and language.
Bion's central thesis in this volume is that for the study of people, whether individually or in groups, a cardinal requisite is accurate observation, accompanied by accurate appreciation and formulation of the observations so made. The study represents a further development of a theme introduced in the author's earlier works, particularly in Elements of Psychoanalysis (1963) and Transformations (1965). Bion's concern with the subject stems directly from his psycho-analytic experience and reflects his endeavor to overcome, in a scientific frame of reference, the immense difficulty of observing, assessing, and communicating non-sensuous experience. Here, he lays emphasis on he overriding importance of attending to the realities of mental phenomena as they manifest themselves in the individual or group under study. In influences that interpose themselves between the observer and the subject of his scrutiny giving rise to opacity, are examined, together with ways of controlling them.
In The Shadow of the Object, Christopher Bollas integrates aspects of Freud's theory of unconscious thinking with elements from the British Object Relations School. In doing so, he offers radical new visions of the scope of psychoanalysis and expands our understanding of the creativity of the unconscious mind and the aesthetics of human character. During our formative years, we are continually "impressed" by the object world. Most of this experience will never be consciously thought, and but it resides within us as assumed knowledge. Bollas has termed this "the unthought known", a phrase that has ramified through many realms of human exploration, including the worlds of letters, psychology and the arts. Aspects of the unthought known --the primary repressed unconscious --will emerge during a psychoanalysis, as a mood, the aesthetic of a dream, or in our relation to the self as other. Within the unique analytic relationship, it becomes possible, at least in part, to think the unthought -- an experience that has enormous transformative potential. Published here with a new preface by Christopher Bollas, The Shadow of the Object remains a classic of the psychoanalytic literature, written by a truly original thinker.
The Ego and the Id ranks high among the works of Freud's later years. The heart of his concern is the ego, which he sees battling with three forces: the id, the super-ego, and the outside world. Of the various English translations of Freud's major works to appear in his lifetime, only one was authorized by Freud himself: The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud under the general editorship of James Strachey. Freud approved the overall editorial plan, specific renderings of key words and phrases, and the addition of valuable notes, from bibliographical and explanatory. Many of the translations were done by Strachey himself; the rest were prepared under his supervision. The result was to place the Standard Edition in a position of unquestioned supremacy over all other existing versions.
Love guilt and reparation: And other works (1921-1924)
  • M Klein
Klein, M. (1975). Love guilt and reparation: And other works (1921-1924). New York, NY: The Free Press.
  • S Freud
Freud, S. (1928). Humour. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 9, 1-6.