Laughter: truly the best medicine

I posted on Laughter Yoga a while back which included a video. I have often noticed that laughter truly takes me away and alters my consciousness. I should say I also purposely watch a lot of stupid comedies on TV and movies for exactly this reason. I try to laugh as often as possible, which sometimes, when as ill as I am is difficult. I put EFFORT into it!!

Here is a long article in Scientific American about laughter.

Full disclosure: I have not read the whole thing (it’s long) as I’m not well today. Will read it later.

Humor: in Scientific American:

The concept of laughter as a cure for disease lacks scientific support, but humor may indeed have significant effects on the psyche.

Laughter relaxes us and improves our mood, and hearing jokes may ease anxiety. Amusement can also counteract pain.

Cheerfulness, a trait that makes people respond more readily to humor, is linked to emotional resilience—the ability to keep a level head in difficult circumstances—and to close relationships. Life satisfaction may increase with the ability to laugh.

Norman Cousins, the storied journalist, author and editor, found no pain reliever better than clips of the Marx Brothers. For years, Cousins suffered from inflammatory arthritis, and he swore that 10 minutes of uproarious laughing at the hilarious team bought him two hours of pain-free sleep.

In his book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient (W. W. Norton, 1979), Cousins described his self-prescribed laughing cure, which seemed to ameliorate his inflammation as well as his pain. He eventually was able to return to work, landing a job as an adjunct professor at the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he investigated the effects of emotions on biological states and health.

The community of patients inspired by such miracle treatments believes not only that humor is psychologically beneficial but that it actually cures disease. In reality, only a smattering of scientific evidence exists to support the latter idea—but laughter and humor do seem to have significant effects on the psyche, even influencing our perception of pain. What is more, psychological well-being has an impact on overall wellness, including our risk of disease.

Laughter relaxes us and improves our mood, and hearing jokes may ease anxiety. Amusement’s ability to counteract physical agony is well documented, and as Cousins’s experience suggests, humor’s analgesic effect lasts after the smile has faded. (read the rest)

6 thoughts on “Laughter: truly the best medicine

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  1. I watched a bizarre TV programme this afternoon. It was one of those fluffy magazine shows, hosted by the bantam-weight presenter, Alan Titchmarsh. It’s never been the show for hard talk, nor parapolitics, but today it strangely was..

    The guest on the show was a comedian called Ricky Tomlinson. Tomlinson is a magnificent actor, best known for playing the character Jim Royle in the sitcom The Royle Family.

    In real life, Tomlinson is a hard-nosed Scouser, a Liverpudlian, a native of Liverpool, the gritty northern city in England famous for producing The Beatles, the manufactured counter culture, and the militant left.

    Back in the 1970s, Tomlinson was an active trade unionist. He was a “flying picket”. He travelled Britain rallying the strikers on the picket lines. The Establishment hated him for that and after a show trial, Tomlinson and his Marxist friends were thrown into jail for eight years where they suffered terrible torture.

    Tomlinson attributes his sense of humour for seeing him through those dark years behind bars. Many of his trade unionist friends weren’t so lucky.

    On behalf of the ones who didn’t make it through, Tomlinson seeks revenge on the powers-that-be who stole their liberty and health for all those years. He used the normally air-headed TV chat show to tell the nation exactly what had happened to him and his comrades while they were locked out of sight and “Detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure” as political prisoners.

    It was a fascinating interview, insofar as Tomlinson revealed that Psychiatry is still being used today as a weapon of political suppression, just as it was during the Third Reich.

    Tomlinson was almost crying when he told how one of his trade unionist cellmates was drugged daily with neuroleptics by the Home Office Psychiatrists. That friend was eventually discharged from prison, years later, now riddled with chronic brain damage that left him barely able to walk.

    That man sued the prison authorities and the Home Office Psychiatrists for their gross human rights abuses that ruined his life. Before the case reached court, he received a pathetically small payoff for the appalling psychiatric torture he had suffered. Sadly, he died shortly afterwards from the effects of drug-induced Parkinsonism.

    It was an horrific story. And worse still it’s ongoing. State Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom continue to torture dissidents. The President of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, documents his own psychiatric torture, and the torture of other Irish Catholics in his autobiography, Before the Dawn.

    Psychiatry will never reform. It will always be a repressive weapon in the hands of tyrants.

  2. ironically, last week the class of junior high kids i teach was given an assignment to write down 10 things they do to make themselves laugh. the lesson was based on people curing themselves via laughter. i stood there thinking, what would i write down? a couple of movies came to mind, but you know those kids had no problem coming up with 10 things. then i went to make copies in the office and there was an article posted about how important play time is as kids and adults.anyway, i believe laughter cures the worst things, at least helps us cope for a while when things are rough.

  3. Gianna,

    I was fortunate after my break as a young man…
    Met a great counselor by the name of Joel Butler, PhD…

    He was big into environmental medicine, biofeedback (before the days of neurofeedback), and laughter!

    It was Dr. Butler who first told me the story of Norman Cousins…His bout with cancer, and how he healed himself with lots vitamin C, and lots Marx Brother movies…Laughed until the cancer left his body…

    I think laughter may be one of the bravest things we can do sometimes….To learn to laugh is to take on the challenge of life – right where it counts!


  4. yeah,
    I really really want to try laughter yoga…I can just imagine how at first it feels awkward but then it turns to real laughter and you just can’t stop…

    It seems so awesome!

  5. Gianna,

    I meant to tell you….

    A couple of weekends back, I get a call from my sister:
    “Hey, I gotta tell you something…You’re not going to believe this…You would love this”, she tells me.

    “What is it?”, I asked her.

    “I went to the coolest class….OMG, Duane….You would love this!”

    “What was the class?”, I asked again.

    “It’s called Laughter Yoga”….OMG, Duane, you have gotta try this!”….

    So, Gianna, I guess I gotta try it….It does look fun!


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