Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Cello scrotum confession

Murphy’s lore

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b288 (Published 28 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b288

What is humor?

Humor is more than levity with physical and emotional relief; it is a window
into the inner mechanisms of the mind. In The Psychopathology of Everyday
Life,
Sigmund Freud theorizes that humor satisfies the libidinal instincts of
verboten sexual and aggressive material, by catching the ego and superego
off-guard. This theory is consistent with most humor and establishes the
validity of psychoanalysis as a research tool and treatment modality. Although
it has been eclipsed by psychopharmacology and relegated to the dustbin of
history, psychoanalysis still has much to offer us. It reminds us that we are
more than synapses and neurotransmitters; we are human and have the
capacity for understanding, compassion, and choice.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

13 February 2009
Hugh Mann
Physician
Eagle Rock, MO 65641 USA