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(1950). Samiksa. III, 1949: Laughter in Psychoanalysis. Martin Grotjahn. Pp. 76–82.. Psychoanal Q., 19:134.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Samiksa. III, 1949: Laughter in Psychoanalysis. Martin Grotjahn. Pp. 76–82.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:134

Samiksa. III, 1949: Laughter in Psychoanalysis. Martin Grotjahn. Pp. 76–82.

A witticism told by a patient during the spontaneous flow of free associations often contains the key to unconscious, disguised material. The point of the joke, when told, liberates the preconscious awareness and renders it fully conscious. Making people laugh contains an aggressive quality and castrates the listener, rendering him helpless in laughter. Children, who are nearer to a genuine understanding of the unconscious than are adults, perceive the underlying aggressive meaning of a joke and react accordingly with shame, embarrassment, and anger. They overlook the disguise which is essential for the adult's displaced attention.

Sometimes a witticism may be used as a means of giving an interpretation; a psychological truth which would otherwise be resisted may by this method be made conscious. A dream in which the analyst is involved in a laughable situation usually is a thin disguise for hostility. Sudden insight into the unconscious, as that following the interpretation of a dream, is often reacted to with laughter unless the insight frightens and the anxiety is too great. Laughter of this sort can be observed during a scientific discussion of dreams where the participating physicians are themselves at a safe emotional distance.

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Article Citation

(1950). Samiksa. III, 1949. Psychoanal. Q., 19:134

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