Humor: 3 efficient functions of it and why victimised people resort to it!


Have you ever laughed at something that you shouldn’t? It might have been a serious matter and something in the formulation or voice made it so funny that you burst out in laughter? Did you ever use humor to express a problem? Here is how it works!Humor: 3 efficient functions of it and why victimised people resort to it!

1. Coping

Humor is often used in stressful situations as a way of coping. The stress of a certain situation is determined by the normal conditions and the abnormal ones implied in the anxiety of the moment.Humor: 3 efficient functions of it and why victimised people resort to it!

Someone that jokes about a stressful situation creates for oneself space where the perturbator factor of his reality is incorporated in his normality. Therefore, one creates a space for his distress to accept it and to try to normalize it.

For example, Jewish people resort to humor in the most stressed moments (concentration camps) during Holocaust. The funny remarks worked in those moments as a distance from trauma. Jewish humor is characterized by self-mockery.

Also, during the Bosnian war (1992-1995) humor was seen as a way of preserving the victim’s mental health or as a way of survival.

“If someone is destroying your life, the worst thing you can do is just sit and let it happen. You have to find humor to be able to function during months of depression like those we have suffered here.” (quoted in Sudetic 1993.)”
Funny as hell: The functions of humour during and after genocide

2. Cohesion

Humor is a way people can bond while expressing similar traumatic experiences. Making fun of a traumatic situation or about a discriminated group can’t be humored unless the people that create the funny statement belong to the same discriminated group or situation. Otherwise, we find the joke as being offensive and disturbing.

3. Criticism

This function can work as a weapon for the people that are being treated offensively. They might not have the courage to speak up and to express the uncomfortable situation they find themselves in, but through humor, people can make a serious statement. Of course, this method is less efficient, as the person making the criticism can hide behind the humorous form.


As presented, humor was used in Holocaust. For example, when Jewish people were transported to one concentration camp named Theresienstadt camp, while the train carriage was crowded and people couldn’t use the bathroom or eat for several days, they tried to cope with the situation. As the train stopped often, they said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, when the train stops again, let’s pretend the train is full already!”

Humor was used with the function of coping too, as for both victims and perpetrators. People needed this effective way to bond with fellow inmates, as comradeship in the camp was vital.
As for criticism, victims of the Holocaust tried to gain their power from the guards through their little jokes. It was a subtle way of criticizing the conditions there were in and not being punished harshly for that. It was often a way of resistance.
It kept its functions after the incident remained. Victims of the Holocaust continued to use humor as a way of running away from traumatic experiences.
Some victims realized that the jokes they had made during the process of victimization were not funny, but the context of their common sufferings made them that way.
Humor after victimization can be seen as a denial of what happened, self-mockery, or as a way of dealing with a traumatic past event.
What about your humor? What does it say about you?Humor: 3 efficient functions of it and why victimised people resort to it!

If you find this information interesting, there is a series of comics that portray a hipster Hitler that doesn’t want to seem a try-hard. I guarantee you will laugh, even if you feel bad about it in the end!


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