Using Humor As A Defense Mechanism
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Student Life

I Swear I'm Not A Shitty Person, I Just Use Humor As A Defense Mechanism

Now I know what Hozier meant when he said, "She's a giggle at a funeral."


My mouth gets me into a lot of trouble. I have no filter and I'm notoriously known for laughing at inappropriate times. When I tell people about my bad habit in casual conversation, they'll shrug and say "Oh, me too." They'll try to relate to my dark humor and say that it's normal. But as soon as I mention the time I laughed during a funeral when I saw the casket and the weeping family go down the church aisle, my friends' eyes will open wide, and they'll tattoo "YOU'RE THE WORST" on my forehead.

I swear, I'm not a bad person. Let me explain.

Generally speaking, I love all types of comedy. I appreciate funny jokes, good SNL skits, and quality comedians, like John Mulaney. Growing up, my family labeled me as the clown of the household. My mother would say I'm funny looking really funny and I put a smile on her face from time to time. However, as I got older, I soon realized that I commonly used my humor as a defense mechanism against... reality. *shudders*


In psychology, the usage of humor in these cases is considered to be the fourth level of mature defenses. All of these responses are labeled as involuntary, meaning those coping mechanisms, like humor, occur naturally, without thought. According to George E. Valliant's journal, Involuntary Coping Mechanisms: A Psychodynamic Perspective, humor helps alleviate situations and eases one's mental state.

For example, although humor appears to reflect denial and dissociation, humor, like meditation, helps shift the body's autonomic sympathetic agitation to parasympathetic calm. Black humor on the battlefield and in the operating theater reflect such examples of transformation of terror into relaxation.

Some examples would include laughing in front of people who are crying, cracking jokes during heated family fights, and my favorite, making fun of my insecurities. Listen, nobody wants to deal with emotions. Dealing with emotions head-on is hard. The idea of crying for hours, or facing a sad realization, terrifies people. It terrifies me. And since I don't like being serious in the first place, I much rather resort to my nervous laughter. In my eyes, humor helps lighten the mood of the room (even if my jokes may be making it worse).


Till today, I still use humor as my coping mechanism and my parents barred me from going to funerals in the future. And no, I don't have a cure or solution to these inappropriate nerves. I do try to avoid joking around during serious moments since I'm now aware of my usual habits. Nevertheless, it's a learning process that's taking time. Understand that when people laugh during the wrong times, that doesn't automatically label them an asshole. It could be their natural response to high-stress situations. They might not be able to help themselves.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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