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Laughter as a defense response: Why we joke in stressful situations

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jul1,2024

Laughter as a defensive response: why we joke in stressful situations

Laughter as a protective reaction/unsplash

Usually laughter is a reaction to funny or pleasant events. However, humor can act as a protective mechanism. It helps us relieve tension and remain mentally stable in stressful situations when we are too vulnerable.

The platform “Psychological support” tells why we joke in stressful situations. Read interesting facts about the human body.

Sometimes, behind simple jokes, a person tries to hide emotions that he cannot cope with: anxiety, fear, helplessness, despair, anger, shame or vulnerability.

How does it work?

  • Alarm

A person can constantly joke to find out how others treat him. Anxiety is behind all of this. If a person does not feel valued as a child, this can cause anxiety. To reduce this unpleasant feeling, the psyche activates compensation strategies, one of which is the need for approval.

The same strategy can be used by a person in adult life: he seeks to be liked by others. Because of this, she constantly jokes. A person perceives it this way: if others laugh at his jokes, then they like him – you can be calm.

Humor can also become an integral part of our communication with others, if it was customary to constantly joke in our family.

  • Aggression

Through laughter, a person can express aggression in a form that is safe for him. Jokes can mask many conflicting feelings: resentment, irritation, etc. For example, if we are offended by the words of a loved one, we may not dare to openly express our feelings. Instead, we resort to irony or sarcasm.

  • Trauma

Due to trauma, a person can experience many unpleasant emotions. Humor helps to cope with them. Knowing that “I can turn something scary into something funny” creates a sense of control. However, this feeling is illusory.

A person can start to laugh at tragic events. But there is a danger in this: we stop adequately perceiving reality. While we “joke” the trauma, we postpone the real process of accepting it – we still cannot survive it.

  • Vulnerability

A person may fear that revealing their true feelings may expose their weakness to others who will take advantage of it. She then jokes so as not to appear vulnerable. For example, constantly joking in front of someone we like is nothing more than an attempt to hide our true feelings.

  • Shock< /li>

A smile can appear as a reaction to shock, to confusion. It happens that real feelings still need time to enter consciousness. And it's normal: everyone has their own speed of processing emotions. anxiety and fear, nothing to worry about. Humor helps to cope with these unpleasant feelings. But this protection should be used wisely and in moderation.

Psychotherapy will help to understand the reason for our jokes and what is behind them. As well as teach how to manage emotions and express them in a way that is safe for us and others.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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