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Defense Mechanism

  • By: René Proyer
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

In literature, diverse functions of humor, such as serving as a lubricant in social interactions or as a means of coping with adversity, have been described. Specific functions have also been ascribed to different types of humor such as disparagement humor (e.g., emphasizing the distinctiveness of a group, enhancement of social identity). Historically, a psychoanalytic standpoint of humor as a defense mechanism has been highly influential in different disciplines. However, other perspectives have also been proposed and studied. This entry gives an overview of how the defense mechanism functions and describes the use of humor as a defense mechanism.

A Psychoanalytic Perspective

In psychoanalytic theory, the term defense mechanism refers to an unconscious strategy employed for dealing with intrapsychic conflicts and for reducing distress. Sigmund Freud proposed ...

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