42. The psychoneuroimmunophysiological responses to incongruous actions or statements/prevarications made for the purpose of eliciting rhythmic, spasmodic expiratory reflexes

S. Ahmed

Abstract


Although humans know instinctually that humour has healing powers, an understanding of the precise effects of humour and laughter had been largely unknown until the twentieth Century, due to the lack of technology. Not all of the barriers to research have been removed – it is still not possible to know “how much” good humour a person has or is experiencing – but there have been significant discoveries that help to prove that while laughter may not be the best medicine, it certainly helps the medicine go down.
The understanding of humour has come in four distinct areas, and in periods that reflect the available technologies. With the discovery of laughing diseases, interest in humour drove Harry Paskind in 1932 to create a new machine to study muscle tone during good humour. From the 1950s to 1970s, the neurology of laughter was researched, accompanying further research into the pathology of laughter after an epidemic of laughter in Uganda from 1962-64. After this came the study of the immunology and the discovery that laughter fights cancer, with the champion of laughter research, William Fry, dedicating a decade from 1969-79 to this work. Finally came research on the indisputable effect of laughter – its healthy effects on human psychology. Thanks, in part, to this research, and also supporting it, the past forty years have seen men like Norman Cousins and Hunter “Patch” Adams bring humour into mainstream healthcare. This research provides doctors an opportunity both now and in the future, as we learn even more about humour, to bring a softer face to medicine and truly give patients something to smile about.
Cousins N. Anatomy of an Illness. New York: WW Norton & Company, Inc., 1979.
Paskind H. Effect of Laughter on Muscle Tone. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 1932; 28-3:623-628.
Robinson VM. Humor and the Health Professions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991.



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25011/cim.v30i4.2802

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