Laughing at lunacy: othering and comic ambiguity in popular humour about mental distress

Cross, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-2301-7318, 2013. Laughing at lunacy: othering and comic ambiguity in popular humour about mental distress. Social Semiotics, 23 (1), pp. 1-17. ISSN 1035-0330

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Jokes and humour about mental distress are said by anti-stigma campaigners to be no laughing matter. The article takes issue with this viewpoint arguing that this is clearly not the case since popular culture past and present has laughed at the antics of those perceived as ‘mad’. Drawing on past and present examples of the othering of insanity in jokes and humour the article incorporates a historical perspective on continuity and change in humour about madness/mental distress, which enables us to recognise that psychiatry is a funny-peculiar enterprise and its therapeutic practices in past times are deserving of funny ha-ha mockery and mirth in the present. By doing so, the article also argues that humour and mental distress illuminate how psychiatric definitions and popular representations conflict and that some psychiatric service users employ comic ambiguity to reflexively puncture their public image as ‘nuts’.

Item Type: Journal article
Alternative Title: Cracking up: humour and the cultural politics of mental distress [working title]
Publication Title: Social Semiotics
Creators: Cross, S.
Publisher: Routledge
Date: 1 February 2013
Volume: 23
Number: 1
ISSN: 1035-0330
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:55
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:44

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