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Prior to searching a specific psychoanalytic concept, you may first want to review The Language of Psycho-Analysis written by Laplanche & Pontalis. You can access it directly by clicking here.

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Freeman, T. (1956). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 3, 1955, No. 1: Mark Kanzer. 'Gogol: A Study on Wit and Paranoia.'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 37:207.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 3, 1955, No. 1: Mark Kanzer. 'Gogol: A Study on Wit and Paranoia.'

(1956). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 37:207

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 3, 1955, No. 1: Mark Kanzer. 'Gogol: A Study on Wit and Paranoia.'

Thomas Freeman

In a previous paper the author investigated the process of diminution of social tension and unrest as a consequence of spontaneous and organized forms of comedy. In this work he draws attention to the fact that revolutionary movements have been foreshadowed in three different countries by the appearance of a great humorist on the national scene—Cervantes in Spain, Voltaire in France, and Gogol in Russia. This phenomenon may be due to an interplay between paranoid traits in the individual and elements of discontent in the population. This interplay between Gogol's wit and his paranoia set against a background of social tension is the subject of the paper.

The three-person situation which Freud formulated in his work on Wit can be seen as a repetition of the Oedipus situation. The son, as the narrator of the story, tries to outmanoeuvre the father by either impersonating the father himself or by pretending to be impotent and rejected by the mother. Two of Gogol's works are quoted to illustrate this process at work and its rôle in Gogol's humour. By identification Gogol's audience could permit the liberation of anti-authoritarian (anti-father) feelings. The encouragement which Gogol received from the public facilitated the appearance of his megalomanic tendencies. This resulted in a wave of hostility against Gogol with his resulting decline into psychosis. The final part of the paper is concerned with the author's views on wit and paranoia and the rôle of humour in permitting the release of repressed impulses.

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Article Citation

Freeman, T. (1956). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 3, 1955, No. 1. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 37:207

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