Why do we laugh? The answer, argued Freud in this groundbreaking study of humour, is that jokes, like dreams, satisfy our unconscious desires.
'The Joke And Its Relation To The Unconscious' (1905) explains how jokes provide immense pleasure by releasing us from our inhibitions and allowing us to express sexual, aggressive, playful or cynical instincts that would otherwise remain hidden.
In elaborating this theory, Freud brings together a rich collection of puns, witticisms, one-liners and anecdotes, many of which throw a vivid light on the society of the early twentieth-century Vienna. Jokes, as Feud shows, are a method of giving ourselves away.