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Berliner, B. (1943). A Supplement to Freud's Theory of Wit: Sandor Feldman. Psa. Rev., XXVIII, 1941, pp. 201–217.. Psychoanal Q., 12:592-592.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: A Supplement to Freud's Theory of Wit: Sandor Feldman. Psa. Rev., XXVIII, 1941, pp. 201–217.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:592-592

A Supplement to Freud's Theory of Wit: Sandor Feldman. Psa. Rev., XXVIII, 1941, pp. 201–217.

Bernhard Berliner

The author states that Freud considers wit, humor and the comic as manifestations of a kind of faulty thinking. In all three phenomena the participants are not only subject to this faulty thinking but derive a sense of amusement from it. The writer further investigates the nature of this faulty thinking and the part played in it by the superego.

Feldman refers to Hermann's concept of a more primitive, illusory ('as if') phase of the superego which precedes the development of the mature or 'real' superego. The castration threat, for example, is accepted by the child in the illusory ('as if') way and he behaves as if the castration took place. For a period of time the child's train of thought is illusory, in addition to being intensive, for it occupies him to a great extent.

In Feldman's estimation, humor, comic and wit represent a regression from the dynamic point of view (as established by Hermann) to the illusory phase of the superego, a hypercathexis of this illusory superego at the cost of the cathexis of the ego and the more developed 'real' superego. From the economic viewpoint this regression from the real towards the illusory superego means economy of expenditure. The faulty thinking consists in the statement that something happened which did not actually take place or the opposite. This faulty thinking characterizes wit, humor and the comic alike. A patient used joking as the denial of his castration anxiety. He created for himself a state of humorous illusion and behaved as if the castration threat which in reality took place did not happen at all.

It is regrettable that the author's summary of Freud's theory in the beginning of his paper is not very clear and not entirely correct.

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Article Citation

Berliner, B. (1943). A Supplement to Freud's Theory of Wit. Psychoanal. Q., 12:592-592

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