“How are we going to define the schizophrenic here? For the moment, I propose to define him or her, following Lacan, as the subject who specifies himself or herself by not being caught up in any discourse, in any social link. I would add that this is the only subject who does not defend himself or herself from the real by means of the symbolic, which we all do when we are not schizophrenic. The schizophrenic does not defend himself or herself from the real by language, because for him or her, the symbolic is real.
It is a question of the schizophrenic’s irony, and not of his humor. Although irony and humor both make us laugh, they are distinguished from one another by structure.
Humor is the comic slope of the superego. Freud says it. The neurotic does not lack humor, the pervert is completely capable of having it, equally so the philosopher of universal maxims, and the surrealist as well. Humor inscribes itself within the perspective of the Other. The humoristic saying makes itself heard, above all, in the place of the Other. It overtakes the subject in the misery of his impotence. Think about the well-known Jewish humor which is cultivated in the ghetto, this supremely social place since it is created by segregation, where the terrible God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob encloses his children.
Irony, on the contrary, does not come from the Other. It is from the subject, and it goes against the Other. What does irony say? It says that the Other does not exist, that the social link in its very foundation is a fraud, that there is no discourse which is not a false pretense…”
—Jacques-Alain Miller, A Contribution of the Schizophrenic to the Psychoanalytic Clinic (Original title, “La clinique d’ironie”)