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Humour and mental health: a case study of Arthur Asa Berger

Arthur Asa Berger (San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA.)
Freda Gonot-Schoupinsky (San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA.)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 6 September 2022

Issue publication date: 11 January 2023




This paper aims to elicit insight on how humour may support mental health from Arthur Asa Berger, Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University, author of more than 150 articles and 90 books, many on humour and humorous artist.


This case study, followed by a 10-question interview, intentionally embraces visual autobiography to present Arthur’s creative humorous contributions.


Arthur conveys the importance of humour, not so much from joke-telling, which can be problematic, but in fun conversations, witty remarks and puns. We learn of his 45 humour techniques, and ways to apply humour in teaching, writing and drawing for therapeutic benefit.

Research limitations/implications

This is a personal narrative, albeit from someone who has been academically and personally involved with humour for over 60 years.

Practical implications

Evidence of the benefits of humour for mental health is mounting. Appreciating and harnessing humour, including with the 45 humour techniques, whenever you can, is recommended.

Social implications

Humour supports relationship building and social inclusion. Social humour is best when it amuses others, offers positive insights into social relationships and is life affirming to both the humourist and their audience.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, Arthur was the first to publish a PhD dissertation on a comic strip and has been at the vanguard of humour application in teaching, academic writing, drawing, popular comedy and humorous murder mysteries for decades. Arthur will be 90 years old in 2023.



Berger, A.A. and Gonot-Schoupinsky, F. (2023), "Humour and mental health: a case study of Arthur Asa Berger", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 37-50.



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