Psychotherapist, Elcha Shain Buckman (1994), believes that only Lawrence Kubie (1971), psychiatrist and author, thinks of therapeutic humor as a “dangerous weapon” (p.20) and quotes him cautioning that “the mere fact that it amuses and entertains the therapist and gives him a pleasant feeling is not evidence that it is a valuable experience for the patient” (p.20). Provine (2000) is inclined to believe that even if “Kubie’s reservations are legitimate and generally shared by many other humor critics and proponents, his cure {cure?} seems worse than the disease” (p.204).

It’s hard for me to understand this type of thinking.
Fortunately, Buckman (1994) informs her reader, “Kubie’s stance is the only one that purports humor to be a non-viable intervention in psychotherapy. All other authors recommend consideration and caution as they do for other therapeutic intervention strategies” (p.21). Thank you, Doctor.

However, social and research psychologist, Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, provides his own negative view of laughter: Psychologically, laughter may indicate self-deprecation, hostility toward others– as in racist joking, defensiveness, closed-mindedness-or a preoccupation with scatology or sex. I would not want to label these these attitudes and dispositions ‘pathological’, but only wish to point out that psychologists have often treated laughter as a reflection of underlying attitudes, afflicts, and cognitions and that these attitudes, feelings, and thoughts may always be those we think of as healthy or desirable. (as cited in Fry and Salameh, 1987,p.8) (Racist Jokes are unhealthy, I think we would all agree).

I’d like to point out my own obligation to include an opposing point of view in this humor research paper. In my own humble opinion, many of these psychologists would be better-off lightening -up, already! They have acquired an attitude that is much too serious. Would they even know how to have fun? They’re in desperate need of a few laughs, I feel. Sorry, if all this unfunny stuff depressed you. I’ll bet we could benefit from a few snickers, chortles, giggles, cackles, hoots, and guffaws, right about now (Wooten,2002,p.3).

In matters of humor, what is appealing to one person is appalling to another. (Melvin Helitzer, comedy writer)

Humor and laughter will involve risk. Many authors caution that using humor is risky business (Not the movie!). Klein (1989) explains that we have no idea what kind of response our comic ‘shticks’ will bring, and how we might respond to the ‘routines’ of others (p.33). And “When dealing with people who are in the midst of a difficult passage, even more risk is involved, it being such a vulnerable time”(p.33), says the author (p.33).

Yes, I’ll admit there is risk involved, especially when someone is in a vulnerable state. But I believe that anyone, with an open, caring heart, will find the guidance they need to effectively use humor and laughter in a therapeutic manner.

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