Self Deprecating Humor’s Impact on Mental Health


Jenna Olson

Sophia Fleming ’21 uses self-deprecating humor daily.

Jenna Olson, Staff Writer

Over the past few years, much of society’s humor has evolved so that it centers around jokes made at a person’s own expense. Self-deprecating humor is currently at the height of its popularity. Whether it be comedy routines, advertisements, memes, or everyday conversations, it is everywhere. But what even is self-deprecating humor?.

Self-deprecating humor is defined as putting oneself down in a somewhat humorous way. Whether in the workplace, at school, or even on social media, self-deprecating humor seems to have become a cornerstone of our society’s humor. However, it may have some negative aspects that are often overlooked.

Self-deprecating humor tends to keep the mood light and makes the people around more comfortable. This type of humor also makes the joker seem modest and relatable. “We do not want to seem boastful and society uses humor to create connections,” school counselor, Erica Woods-Schmitz said.

Other people use self-deprecation as a way to receive compliments. The immediate response to hearing someone say that they are bad at something is often to reassure them that they are good at it. Some people take advantage of that instinct and use it as a confidence boost. 

Even if they are just jokes, self-deprecation affects the way people think about themselves. Lifeworks therapist Christopher Marks claims that self-deprecating humor can have negative effects on mental health. “Self-deprecating jokes can cause vulnerability, a sense of guilt, worthlessness, and it can affect their responsibility instinct,” Marks said. Self-deprecating humor goes too far when people do not know how to accept compliments, revert to jokes during serious conversations, and put up a front to keep people from helping with underlying issues.

There is a difference between modesty and self-deprecation – modesty is admitting that there are some things one is not good at while accepting that those are balanced out by the things one is good at.

There are healthy ways of boosting one’s confidence and there are school-provided resources, at this website, available to those who feel that themselves or someone they know is using self-deprecating humor excessively. Essentially, while humor is often okay, excessively making fun of oneself may not be the way to achieve confidence or happiness.