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Newirth, J. (2006). The Analyst as Comic and the Comic in Analysis: Reply to Commentary. Psychoanal. Dial., 16(5):579-584.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 16(5):579-584

The Analyst as Comic and the Comic in Analysis: Reply to Commentary Related Papers

Joseph Newirth, Ph.D.

This discussion elaborates aspects of the use of humor and jokes in clinical psychoanalysis. The use of humor, like dreams or other symmetrical processes, facilitates the patient's development of the capacity to symbolize unconscious experience and mitigates the need to evacuate unconscious experiences and fantasies into the external world. In focusing on specific clinical interventions I highlight three dimensions of the process: the concept of coconstruction in the emergence of humor in the psychoanalytic relationship, the authority of the patient's psychopathology and affective and cognitive development, and the analyst's willingness to take the risks of self-exposure and possibly hurting the patient implicit in the use of humor and jokes in the analytic relationship. Different forms of humor are described in relation to the different clinical situations, including mutually created jokes, caricatured enactments, cartoonlike images, and self-depreciating commentary on the analytic process. In using jokes and humor in psychoanalysis we introduce the possibility of pleasure within an intense, intimate moment which allows for the transformation of unacceptable aspects of both patient and analyst as they become joined within a broader human experience.

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