The use of “dark” humor by professionals in trauma and crisis-focused professions is common, particularly within fields such as healthcare, crime, emergency response, and social work reporting frequent use of dark humor in the workplace. This article and related articles were reviewed to understand how dark humor plays in trauma and crisis-focused environments. The results suggest that dark humor acts as a coping mechanism and contributes to different group dynamics among peers.
Merriam-Webster defines dark humor as “humor marked by the use of usually morbid, ironic, grotesquely comic episodes.”
The literature has also explored the effects of humor on patients or people in contact with staff involved in trauma and crisis situations. Some preliminary results suggest a connection between humor and prejudice within patient and care-giver relationships. This review enlightens why and how dark humor is used by professionals working in trauma and crisis-focused fields and suggests the potential consequences of dark humor.
This review also broadens the target population, as the trauma and crisis focus area refers to a wider range of professions that deal with death and trauma but may not be only within emergency services. Additionally, ethical concerns are associated with black humor, and interacts with one’s own and, consequently, patients’ biases and prejudices, thus influencing the quality of patient’s care.