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The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious

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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,160 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Why do we laugh? The answer, argued Freud in this groundbreaking study of humor, is that jokes, like dreams, satisfy our unconscious desires. The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious explains how jokes provide immense pleasure by releasing us from our inhibitions and allowing us to express sexual, aggressive, playful, or cynical instincts that would otherwise remain ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 24th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1905)
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Vikas Lather
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Brilliantly funny and fantastically refreshing. Few of my favorites jokes from the book:

First, a marriage-broker was defending the girl he had proposed against the young mans protests.
"I dont care for the mother-in-law", said the latter. Shes a disagreeable, stupid person. But after all youre not marrying the mother-in-law. What you want is her daughter."

"Yes, but shes not young any longer, and shes not precisely a beauty."

"No matter. If shes neither young nor beautiful shell be all the more
...more
Michael
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: members-only
2.5 stars.
When the introducer in his introduction writes something like, Besides, readers of his [Freuds] Joke book who have been uneasily conscious of the persistent failures of understanding prompted by such mismatches are entitled to know that their stupidity is not to blame (or at any rate is shared by a fellow-reader). In reality, as we have seen, a factor that obstructs any easy understanding of the text is that the terms evolved by Freud in his analysis of dreams cannot have the same
...more
Adam
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: durcharbeiten
"Humor is like a frog: if you dissect it, it dies." -Mark Twain

Freud did, and it does. He commenced under the sway of two truths which are just about all one retains from the reading: first, that he was on to something, and second, that he had no idea what he was talking about. They don't cancel or balance out, they persist in dissonance. No matter how forced are Freud's efforts, the Introduction by John Carey is insufferable. Omit without remorse. The translator's preface sheds a little light
...more
Jeremy
Jun 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: humour, psychology
Nothing is worse than having someone explain a joke to you.

Now imagine having arcane jokes explained to you by an Austrian Psychoanalyst who grew up in the Victorian era for 300 pages or so.

Somehow it burrows its way so far into unbearable tedium, that it digs right through to the other side into being funny.

Still, it's a little painful to read sometimes.

n
Sep 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychology, cultural critics
Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious is a bit of a tough read. If it were more accessible to the average reader, I would have rated it higher. It is definitely an interesting observation of something we often don't take very seriously.
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
the first part of the book is descriptive of different kinds of wit and humor and the second part of the book is a synthesis on how humor relates to Freud's system. Most humor is based on a concept confusion and incongruous resolution. Some humor according to Freud however, unmasks hidden drives of the unconscious and can make for a release or recognition in a safe or funny way.
Erik Graff
Jun 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of psychology
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: psychology
I picked this one up at a used bookstore in Three Oaks during the summer Martin and I were taking care of my little brother, Fin, in Michigan. Up to this point I think I'd only read his Civilization and Its Discontents and his Interpretation of Dreams. Starting with that summer, however, I began to plow my way through all of Freud's works.

Brill's translation of Der Witz und seine Beziehung zum Unbewußten was occasionally mildly amusing. Freud apparently had a sense of humor, ranging from mild to
...more
Karmen
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
With all the respect to Freud and his genuinely authentic and brave pioneering theory on humour/jokes I found this book very tortuous to read. And not only because most of the jokes aren't funny anymore but probably were at the time the book was written, but mostly because of his style of writing that is highly academic and seems like his stream of thoughts, not very well structured.

I am actually not surprised that lots of the theoreticians on humour refer to this work only in one or two
...more
Roberto Rigolin F Lopes
Here we have Freud showing off his bag of jokes; the man had an odd taste, even for 1905 (?). He goes about explaining the joke-techniques, motives and well, the amusing thing is that he dared to explain all this crap to us. Unbelievable, Freud! :-) ...more
Jung Edda
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The one book where Freud doesn't talk about fucking his mother.
Gloria
Jan 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
So unfunny it was funny
I-kai
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting account of jokes and their relation to the naive, the ironic, the comic, and humor. Still somehow prefer Bergson, whose view of laughter is discussed in this work. Fun if not funny. There are some obscure parts I still don't totally understand.
Christopher Gontar
Jul 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book is about several traditional types of meaning-based jokes. It was Freud's earliest attempt to publish a book on his theory of the unconscious, and one Freudian scholar (Tomas Geyskens) even believes, unrealistically, that this text is the best example of Freud's theory of sublimation in art.

Every basic class of jokes is included here, although not properly identified according to their actual type. Freud even includes a sophisticated kind in which ambiguous language is used as a means
...more
Christopher Gontar
This book is about several traditional types of meaning-based jokes. It does not include a more sophisticated kind in which ambiguous language is used as a way of veiling or tactfully mentioning a foible or suffering. That type of humor is known to theorists today as "appropriate incongruity," though such theorists don't understand its meaning or ability to amuse. That is, they don't understand that appropriate incongruity is a kind of indirect attack or sarcasm.

There is no great loss in that
...more
Kirk Johnson
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
some books by freud - such as studies in hysteria, the interpretation of dreams, the psychopathology of everyday life - have an elegance to them that makes it easy to overlook any shenanigans that might be going on in the background. others, such as three theories on sexuality and this book, meld some startling and brilliant passages with forced maneuvers that leave me with a feeling of having read a good try instead of a thing of beauty.

i quite like this translation by joyce crick, though i
...more
Christian
Did not make me funnier. Text and wits are on the dry side. Some of it is genuinely interesting, but it is what it is: an attempt to make sense of wit, comic and humor; and to distinguish between them analytically.

This one almost seems like a flex: his theories of the unconscious are applicable to wit and it seems reasonable enough, but so what? The scope is quite limited compared to other works. Not that it makes it a bad, but maybe less appealing. Anyway, according to him, we laugh because we
...more
Fernando Guerra
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Comedians
Recommended to Fernando by: My therapist
Shelves: philosophy
Expecting to actually have fun while reading this is a mistake, as this book is evidently not a joke encyclopedia but a quite serious approach at the topic of humor, jokes, and their social role.

The -excessively- numerous examples of not-really-funny jokes and puns used by the author can become quite tedious in the first section (reason why I rated 4 stars instead of 5), but are sadly necessary as they are referenced throughout the text as examples. And once the proper discussion about the
...more
Philip Zaborowski
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
You know how people say that a joke isn't funny if you have to explain it? The first one hundred pages of this book are basically just Freud explaining why jokes--generally antisemitic and misogynistic--are funny. I'm struggling to force myself to read further, so maybe i'll be editing this later (I doubt it).
Morgan Podraza
Freud's theories of comedy, the joke, and humor in THE JOKE AND ITS RELATION TO THE UNCONSCIOUS was built from theories by Spencer, Bergson, and Heine. The book laid the foundation for future theories, but the majority of the work in this book is severely outweighed by the number of examples he gives.
Clive Hazell
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent

Some good old jokes and a useful categorization of forms of wit, comedy and humor. A great starting place for anyone interested in this important but overlooked domain.
Ed
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fascinating book.
Freud's thought process is intriguing and very well argued- it is an intense deep dive into certain semantics that I never knew I wanted explaining, but I'm now very glad that I took this journey.
What exactly is a joke, and why do we laugh at it? It's surely an age-old question, and here Freud extends his more famous analysis of dreams and the subconscious with the aim to explain jokes in the same terms. His ultimate thesis is that laughter from a joke arises from
...more
Michelle
It's true what they say--explaining the joke is definitely the easiest way to make it unfunny. In The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious Sigmund Freud takes on jokes with his signature psychoanalysis, and ruins many a punchline. I've read Freud before, and I really enjoyed his essay "On Narcissism." This text is pretty par for the course as Freud goes, it's been translated from the original German, it's pretty dense, and you may have to read some parts repeatedly.
In terms of content, this
...more
Dark Slayer
This book, written in 1905, is somehow a sequel of the Interpretation of Dreams and an insight into the analysis of dreams and their relation to the unconscious. Several jokes, he stipulates,perform the same goal as some dreams in tolerating socially or personally unacceptable material from the unconscious to transpire in camouflaged forms. Jokes, according to Freud, can be divided into two types: Innocent and Tendentious jokes. The former focus on spoken dexterity, and at this phase, Freud ...more
Scott
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it
The best part of the book are the jokes that Freud relates, many of them Jewish - it's interesting to see just how politically incorrect humor could be in pre-World War I Vienna. Too bad they don't occupy more of the book than they do, though. Freud is interesting when he's categorizing the technique of various types of jokes, but much less so when he's delving into his theory on what's involved in making them funny, which involves economy of psychic energy - he makes it just as interesting as ...more
Ovi Oprea
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychoanalysis
There were some good jokes I came across - "And what a hump!" instantly comes to my mind - and they did compensate for apparently aimless cataloguing of techniques employed by jokes, but the last fifty or so pages were for me as turgid as it gets. I had to take lots of notes to keep my mind from wandering away from the text. Still, in the end it was worth it. I have a better picture of what makes jokes, the comic and humour distinct from each other and I also have a good idea of what the ...more
Adam
Mar 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Parts of this are interesting. You would probably be better off going to your library and downloading some articles about it or maybe reading a book about Freud's ideas rather than trying to glean them from this book. I plan to read Interpretation of Dreams at some point and, although this isn't his most well-known work, the subject intrigued me slightly more. There are an awful lot of bad, old-timey jokes in here, but they're actually so bad and the whole context and the way they're delivered ...more
Elhan
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this book during my research on Psychoanalysis and Translation and to better understand the workings of the unconsciousness. It is Freuds non-medical contribution to psychoanalysis. The part Jokes as a Social Process was very mind opening as I found links to Gezi Incidents that took place for n İstanbul in 2013 and the chapter made me reflect on the conflict between the authorities who worked hard to stop the rallies and the youth who used jokes as a weapon. ...more
Dpg
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great deal of psychoanalytic theory has been justly debunked and relegated to the dustbin of history -- and cultural myth. But Freud's notions about humor still hold up fairly well. Since a great many of his examples rely upon punning for their humorous effect,not every example translates well from German to English. Still, if I had to recommend only two books by Freud, this would be one of them.
Daniel
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
The idea here's that jokes, like dreams, are roads leading to the unconscious. You can interpret joke-texts like dream-texts, identifying the wish-fulfillment at the heart of the former's humor. An interesting theory, but not that convincingly supported and somewhat difficult to follow in translation...
Akhil Jain
Jan 12, 2017 rated it liked it
In addition, he looks in the work of an author who viewed jokes as being a form of metaphor.
He successfully managed to link these theories and jokes and the theory of a catharsis.
A joke is one way of ensuring cohesion in society. To some extent, this is true. For instance, roasts held by various societies are used to express pent up emotions.
...more
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Dr. Sigismund Freud (later changed to Sigmund) was a neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, who created an entirely new approach to the understanding of the human personality. He is regarded as one of the most influentialand controversialminds of the 20th century.

In 1873, Freud began to study medicine at the University of Vienna. After graduating, he worked at the Vienna General Hospital.
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