Mistakes and Jokes

“Primary Process”: The Problem of the Relation between Cognition and Affect
  • Helen Block Lewis
Part of the Emotions, Personality, and Psychotherapy book series (EPPS)


Freud extended his use of the concept of “primary process” in two books after The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), a book on everyday mistakes (1901b) and a book on jokes (1905a). These two books turn our attention away from the problem of the social nature of human nature back to the narrower problem of the relation between cognition and affect. As we shall see in this chapter, these two issues are related. They become connected in the problem of how to understand the obviously high level of intellectual functioning that can produce the “compromise” content of mistakes, and the even more dazzling intellectual feats that are the “joke work.” These intellectual feats occur under the press of maintaining affectional ties.


Positive Emotion Primary Process Script Theory Freudian Theory Sexual Instinct 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Block Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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