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Freudian/Psychoanalytic Theory

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

For Sigmund Freud, the personal aggressive drives and instincts of the unconscious (id) must appear less overt and avoid being directly offensive when revealed in the public and less personalized face of the conscious (ego, super ego). In other words, unacceptable unconscious content is reworked into acceptable, yet ambiguous, expressions within the conscious. For comedy, this occurs through the specific way joking is structured. This enables the ambiguity, or what Freud also calls “the uncanny,” to be understood as “unthinking” or a “trick” because the joke is simultaneously and irrationally perceived as both of unconscious and conscious content. Jokes that are “non-tendentious” (innocuous) are more uncanny than socially critical “tendentious” (satirical) jokes. Satirical jokes are less ambiguous than, and expose more unconscious material than, innocuous ...

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