Black Humour, Psychoanalysis And Psychotherapy: Reading Of The Remedy In Martin Amis’s Dead Babies

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Sukanta Sanyal , Prof. Tanutrushna Panigrahi , Prof. Lipika Das


This paper proposes an interdisciplinary study of Martin Amis’s novel Dead Babies in the context of black humour and psychotherapy for the purposes of identifying and understanding how black humour can act as psychotherapy for the psychological trauma and physical pain that an individual suffers. Invoking some of the key tenets of black humour pronounced by Schultz, Friedman, Vonnegut, Breton and Bloom and those of psychotherapy as articulated by Freud, Anna Freud, Lacan, Jung, Klein, Bowlby and Winnicott, this essay explores the various traumatic psychological phenomena and their manifestations through the expostulations of Keith Whitehead, a physically challenged and prurient character in the novel, to sense how he takes resort to a sinister laughter to negotiate those and eventually internalize them. The paper includes an analysis of how the clinical psychological concepts like childhood trauma, suppressed sexuality, defence mechanisms, splitting, integration, breakdown, avoidant attachment and the superego are operational in various degrees in the character of Amis’s protagonist and how they are extrapolated from medical and therapeutic interpretations as well as from the literary perspectives of black humour in this text for their broader appreciation and application.

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