Humour, sublimation and the politics of psychoanalysis

Daniel Kupermann


This article approaches the existing relationships, in the works of Freud, between the metapsychology of humour and the sublimation process, understood not only as the creation of artistic or scientific works, but as the production of a singular style of existence. We demonstrate how the mechanism of de-idealization, condition of possibility of the humour speech, implies the necessary grief work for the transformation of narcissistic identifications with the first objects of satisfaction into sublimatory identifications. Therefore, the tyrannical superego is deposed, becoming a laughable caricature of the omnipotent longings of the narcissistic subject and revealing its aspect of a protector and facilitator of creativity. We thereby approach the figure of the orphan to the figure of the humourist, paradigm of the creator and, supported by the Bakhtinian reading of the ‘grotesque realism’ (an aesthetic category to which humour is associated), point out that regarding the experience of helplessness of the modern man, humour is the highest expression of the joy of living.


Sublimation, humor, de-idealization, creativity, joy

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