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Kris, E. (1936). The Psychology of Caricature. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 17:285-303.

(1936). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 17:285-303

The Psychology of Caricature

Ernst Kris

Ever since a scientific body of doctrine relating to the essential processes and manifestations of human mental life—I refer to psychoanalysis—came into existence, psychology has reconstituted its field of enquiry; since that date the comic has no longer (or no longer exclusively) been a matter of some æsthetic theory, involving the tacit assumption of popular psychological views, but has become an affair of psychology itself.

By way of introduction, let me remind you that the conclusions of psycho-analysis bearing on the psychology of the comic are derived from two different phases in the development of our science. First, there are those essentially concerned with an understanding of topographical and economic relations, which go back to its heroic age, to Freud's Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious; at the time, after The Interpretation of Dreams and The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, they signified a third decisive stride forward on that imposing route which was to lead through the knowledge gleaned from pathological phenomena to the construction of a fundamentally new, general psychological outlook. The others represent the results of nearly twenty-five years further study, and relate principally to dynamic and structural problems; they were developed by Freud (originally for one branch of the comic) in his paper on 'Humour, ' and are part of the efforts made to arrive at a clearer view of the ego's position in the mental structure in the light of a system of metapsychological conceptions, efforts which bid fair radically to affect the clinical practice and theories of psycho-analysis in its fourth decade.

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