This brings me back to the questions I posed at the beginning of this project. I wanted to examine therapeutic humor to see if a low-tech, low cost, non-invasive “technique” like laughter has a place in the health care system, and may really be a “best” medicine, and investigate the transformative power of healing with hilarity. The healing efficacy of humor therapy, was adequately proved, I believe, by relating personal experiences with humor and laughter (including my own), and discussion of the ample physiological, psychological, and spiritual benefits on the body.

Although research on the therapeutic effects and healing benefits of humor and laughter is a continual process in the medical and scientific communities, much of modern humor research began with Norman Cousins (1979), who provided the impetus, as well as the inspiration for the serious study of laughter. We owe Cousins a great deal of gratitude. Nearly everyone who authored books on humorous and alternative healing techniques – from physician Patch Adams (1993), to Stress psychologist Jon Kabat-Zin (1990) – agree that Cousins provided invaluable information from his personal pain-reducing experiments and ignited interest in the subject.

In Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins (1979) ground-breaking book, a follow-up to his previously published medical article,1976) which resulted in a barrage of letters (over 3,000) from interested physicians who had read it. Cousins infamous coping strategies set a new standard:

How scientific was it to believe that laughter- as well
As the positive emotions in general- was affecting  my
chemistry for the better? If laughter did in fact have a
salutary effect on the body’s chemistry, it seemed at
least theoretically likely that it would enhance the
system’s ability to fight the inflammation. So we took
sedimentation rate readings just before as well as several
hours after the laughter episodes. Each time, there was a
drop of at least five points. The drop by itself was not
substantial, but it held and was cumulative. I was greatly
elated by the discovery that there is a physiological basis
for the ancient theory that laughter is the best medicine.
p.40) To me, Cousins remains, the true for the ancient
theory that laughter is Lord of Laughter.

Now that you have been educated about the amazing role of endorphins in pain relief by well-known researchers like the Becks’ (1987), Cousins (1989), Adams (1993), and Greenfield 2000), I believe it’s easier to understand the appeal of endorphin moments, even with possible risks. And remember, the Becks believe endorphins are potentially “one of the most significant discoveries of our time”(p.9). Some of the risks associated with using therapeutic humor and laughter, including situations where it may be deemed inappropriate, or even dangerous, were extensively discussed. Next, came some reasons for why you may avoid humorous situations, or feel uncomfortable engaged in intense laughter, or have a fear of appearing foolish before your peers. “Remember,” says Allen Klein on his website, “that you are not becoming a comedian, you are seeking humor for balance and perspective,”(Allen Klein.com, p.3) so why not give therapeutic humor a try, I say.

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