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Flugel, J.C. (1955). Children's Humor. A Psychological Analysis. By Martha Wolfenstein. (Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1954. Pp. 224. $3.75.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:404-405.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:404-405

Children's Humor. A Psychological Analysis. By Martha Wolfenstein. (Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1954. Pp. 224. $3.75.)

Review by:
J. C. Flugel

Psycho-analysts long ago realized that the explanation of much adult behaviour, both normal and pathological, can most hopefully be sought in the study of the child. It is perhaps strange that in the half century which has now elapsed since Freud first showed the connexion between wit and other psycho-analytic findings so few studies from the psycho-analytic point of view have been made on the development of humour in children. In this book the omission is made good. At the same time, however, a valuable contribution has been made to the whole problem of the psychological function of humour, which in turn reveals itself as a useful field in which many of the mental mechanisms revealed by psycho-analysis can be profitably studied in a restricted and 'normal' area of mental functioning.

In agreement with Freud (especially in his article on 'humour') the author holds that the underlying motive of all joking is 'to transform painful and frustrating experiences and to extract pleasure from them'; but the painful experiences concerned and the technique of joke-making employed may be very various, according to the situation involved and the degree of sophistication of the joke-maker. By a series of excellent examples it is shown how 'increasingly intricate devices are used to circumvent growing inhibitions, to make possible the continued enjoyment of the forbidden without being disturbed by guilt' (p. 166).

Among these devices is one which has already been independently noticed by Reik, and more recently by Ehrenzweig, in its relation to art, viz.

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