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HUMOR AND HEALTH. by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Extraverts Tend to be Humorous, but. “Past research has shown that extraverted individuals, in comparison with introverts, are more likely to drink alcohol, more likely to smoke cigarettes, less likely to quit smoking,

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HUMOR AND HEALTH

by Don L. F. Nilsen

and Alleen Pace Nilsen

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Extraverts Tend to be Humorous, but

  • “Past research has shown that extraverted individuals, in comparison with introverts, are

    • more likely to drink alcohol,

    • more likely to smoke cigarettes,

    • less likely to quit smoking,

    • and more likely to be obese.”

  • Remember, therefore, that “humor may have deleterious as well as beneficial health consequences.” (Martin [2008]: 484)

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Humor Styles Questionnaire

  • The “Humor Styles Questionnaire” was developed by Rod Martin and his colleagues (Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, and Weir).

  • This questionnaire includes scales for two potentially detrimental styles of humor (aggressive and self-defeating humor) and scales for two potentially beneficial styles of humor (affiliative and self-enhancing humor). (Martin [2008]: 487)

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State-Trait Cheerfulness Inventory

  • Willibald Ruch, Gabriele Köhler, and Christoph van Thriel developed the “State-Trait Cheerfulness Inventory,” which “defines sense of humor as an emotional temperament (i.e., the tendency to be habitually cheerful and playful), which seems quite consistent with the way humor is often conceptualized in the humor and health literature (e.g. Lefcourt 2001).”

  • (Martin [2008]): 488)

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Facial Action Coding System

  • The “Facial Action Coding System” was developed by Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen.

  • FACS can distinguish between genuine enjoyment (“Duchenne”) smiles and laughter (which are symmetrical) and faked or non-enjoyment smiling or laughter (which are more asymmetrical)

  • (Martin [2008]: 488)

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Sense of Humor Questionnaire

  • Sven Svebak, Rod Martin, and Jostein Holmen have developed the “Sense of Humor Questionnaire” and administered it to the entire adult population of a county in Norway (65,000 participants).

  • Correlations were determined between a person’s sense of humor and illness symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, pounding heart, dyspnea, musculuskeletal pain), blood pressure, overall health satisfaction, and body mass index (a measure of obesity).

  • (Martin [2008]: 499)

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  • “The results provided very little evidence for a simple relationship between sense of humor and health.”

  • “After controlling for age, no meaningful relationships were found between sense of humor and either illness symptoms or objective health indicators, although the study did find a weak relationship between sense of humor and satisfaction with health (r = .12).”

  • “These results suggest that, although high humor individuals do not seem to have objectively better health, they are somewhat more subjectively satisfied with their health.” (Martin [2008]: 499).

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Rod Martin’s Conclusion relationship between sense of humor and health.”

  • “Despite reports in the popular media and claims made by adherents of the ‘humor and health’ movement, the research findings on health benefits of humor and laughter are not as strong, consistent, or unambiguous as is commonly believed.”

  • (Martin [2008]: 509)

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Humor and Pain relationship between sense of humor and health.”

  • In Israel, “Ofra Nevo and her colleagues found a positive relationship “between tolerance of pain and sense of humor, especially with the capacity to produce humor” (71).

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Comedy Carts & Humor Rooms relationship between sense of humor and health.”

  • There are more than 100 hospitals in the U.S. that have either “comedy carts,” or full scale “humor rooms” for reducing the fears and anxieties of their patients.

    (Morreall [2008] 240)

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Paul McGhee’s Suggestion relationship between sense of humor and health.”

  • In his The Laughter Remedy: Health, Healing, and the Amuse System, Paul McGhee has the following suggestion:

  • “Become more playful; surround yourself with humor you enjoy. Begin telling jokes and funny stories. And laugh at yourself.”

  • (Morreall [2008]: 467)

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Be Critical of Humor-Benefit Claims relationship between sense of humor and health.”

  • Rod Martin says that the claims for the benefits of humor “are often simplistic, exaggerated, and unsubstantiated. He is especially critical of methodological weaknesses in the research on humor and the immune system.”

  • (Morreall [2008]: 468-469)

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The Physiological Effects of Laughter-- relationship between sense of humor and health.”But Apply Cautious Optimism:

  • Many researchers claim that hearty laughter

    • increases the blood circulation,

    • ventilates the lungs

    • increases the oxygen intake

    • reduces the water vapor and carbon dioxide in the lungs

    • and decreases the risk of pulmonary infection.

    • (Morreall [2008]: 468)

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  • “In the blood, humorous laughter lowers the level of stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol. dopac, and growth hormone).”

  • “In the brain, catecholamines are secreted, which may increase alertness, reduce inflammation, and trigger the release of endorphins, the brain’s natural opiates.”

  • “This may account for the reduction of pain often reported after laughter.”

  • (Morreall [2008]: 468)

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CLEARWATER, FLORIDA stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol. dopac, and growth hormone).”

  • At the Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Florida there is a clown school.

  • Graduates of the clown school patrol the halls of the hospital and give out smiley faces, joke books, and little clown babies.

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 143)

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DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol. dopac, and growth hormone).”

  • In Durham, North, Carolina, there is the Carolina Ha Ha organization dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle through humor and entertainment.

  • Ruth Hamilton is the director, and she works closely with the Duke University Medical Center Humor Project, which has donated the “Laugh Mobile” for use by cancer patients.

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 143)

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LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol. dopac, and growth hormone).”

  • The Oasis Room at Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky has a player piano, humorous books, cartoon albums, and Nintendo game sets for patients and family members to use together.

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 143)

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol. dopac, and growth hormone).”

  • In New York City, there is a Clown Care Unit of the Big Apple Circus that sends clowns to the pediatric units of several hospitals.

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 143)

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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol. dopac, and growth hormone).”

  • The Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia has a humor cart with a six-foot-high clown on the front.

  • In the cart there are comedy tapes, squirt guns, yo-yos, whoopee cushions, slinkies, kaleidoscopes, Mr. Potato Heads, etc.

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 143)

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ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS clowns, pets, clergy, and humor intervention as a regular part of their care systems.

  • Sometimes the tone gets too heavy in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, so humor is often used to transcend the moment and attain a broader perspective.

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  • Telling about the humor in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, one member recounted a story about another member backing his car out of his driveway while he was drunk.

  • “He accidentally ran over his wife. And everybody laughed.”

  • “Even his wife was there, sitting in the front row, and she was laughing.”

  • “She limped a little bit, but she was still laughing. What a crazy place.”

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 144)

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HOSPITAL HUMOR one member recounted a story about another member backing his car out of his driveway while he was drunk.

  • Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, says that the more hierarchical is a working environment, the more likely are people in the middle to be frustrated.

  • Nurses are caught in the middle, so they often joke and clown around with their patients, often at the expense of doctors and hospital administrators, thus destroying the hierarchy that exists in hospitals.

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 143)

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PATCH ADAMS one member recounted a story about another member backing his car out of his driveway while he was drunk.

  • In Patch Adams the movie, Robin Williams plays the part of an unconventional medical student who upsets the hierarchy by playing a clown and ordering around the doctors and the hospital administrators.

  • The nurses and the patients approve of this behavior.

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  • One of the funniest episodes in the one member recounted a story about another member backing his car out of his driveway while he was drunk. Patch Adams movie was when the inmates at a mental hospital take over a therapy session.

  • In this session, each of the patients is asked to contribute to a group joke.

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 142)

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THE BIBLE one member recounted a story about another member backing his car out of his driveway while he was drunk.

  • “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Proverbs)

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 142)

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NORMAN COUSINS one member recounted a story about another member backing his car out of his driveway while he was drunk.

  • If it’s possible to have a psychosomatic illness, then it is also possible to have a psychosomatic wellness.

  • In 1979, Norman Cousins published Anatomy of an Illness.

  • Cousins had developed a serious collagen disease that affected the connective tissue of his spine and joints.

  • The disease was life-threatening, his pain was intense, and the doctors gave him little hope for a full recovery.

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  • Cousins was frustrated by the hospital routines and his slow progress, so he checked himself out of the hospital and into a nearby hotel.

  • Here he used “humor-intervention therapy.” He read humorous books, watched funny movies, and watched tapes of “Candid Camera.”

  • He found that the more he laughed, the longer his body was without pain.

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 142)

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WILLIAM FRY progress, so he checked himself out of the hospital and into a nearby hotel.

  • In 1971, Dr. William Fry of the Stanford University Medical School started doing empirical studies on the effects of humor and laughter on the healing process.

  • His results are now widely published.

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 143)

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VERA ROBINSON progress, so he checked himself out of the hospital and into a nearby hotel.

  • In 1977, Vera Robison published the first edition of her Humor and the Health Professions.

  • This was a very influential book.

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PATTY WOOTEN progress, so he checked himself out of the hospital and into a nearby hotel.

  • Patty Wooten has been president of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor.

  • Dressed as a clown named Nancy Nurse, Wooten makes fun of doctors, nurses, hospital administrators and even patients.

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The Relief Theory of Humor progress, so he checked himself out of the hospital and into a nearby hotel.

  • The relief theory has two forms

    • Humor can be a relief from pre-existing nervous energy as when rambunctious kids are forced to sit quietly for a long time. Once the pressure is off, they often resort to horseplay, buffoonery, and laughter.

    • Or the “set-up” for a joke or cartoon may require concentration, attention to detail, and emotional engagement.

    • But the punch line is a release of either type of pent-up energy.

    • (Morreall [2008] 222)

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Engagement Plus Release progress, so he checked himself out of the hospital and into a nearby hotel.

  • I had written to Aunt Maud

  • Who was on a trip abroad

  • When I heard she’d died of cramp,

  • Just too late to save the stamp.

  • (Morreall [2008] 222)

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!FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS progress, so he checked himself out of the hospital and into a nearby hotel.

  • Because we don’t want to overstate the health benefits of humor, we decided to offer some warnings:

  • 1. People have individualized senses of humor, and what makes one person laugh might annoy or insult someone else.

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  • !2. Even if it is true that people with a good sense of humor live longer, the sense of humor might not be the cause. Perhaps these people are happy because they are healthy and things are going well in their lives.

  • 3. Also, it could be that pleasant patients with a sense of humor just receive better health care than do the grumps.

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  • !!4. Although a hearty laugh does pump adrenalin and other “good” chemicals into people’s blood streams, there are other things that have the same effect. Pets and members of the clergy also have a positive effect on health and healing.

  • 5. If laughter enhances the immune system, then what about implant patients. A stronger immune system for them will cause them to reject their implants.

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!!!THEREFORE, A CAUTIOUS CONCLUSION “good” chemicals into people’s blood streams, there are other things that have the same effect. Pets and members of the clergy also have a positive effect on health and healing.

  • One critic compared hospital humor to changing a baby’s diaper.

  • “It doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.”

  • (Nilsen & Nilsen 143)

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35 “good” chemicals into people’s blood streams, there are other things that have the same effect. Pets and members of the clergy also have a positive effect on health and healing.


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HUMOR AND HEALTH WEB SITES “good” chemicals into people’s blood streams, there are other things that have the same effect. Pets and members of the clergy also have a positive effect on health and healing.

ASSOCIATION FOR APPLIED AND THERAPEUTIC HUMOR

http://aath.org/

CAROLINA HEALTH AND HUMOR ASSOCIATION:

http://rtpnet.org/~cahaha/

TIM CONWAY AS DENTIST:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYzuchDBvCs

GESUNDHEIT INSTITUTE (PATCH ADAMS):

http://www.patchadams.org/

GREY’S ANATOMY:

http://abc.go.com/primetime/greysanatomy/

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HOSPITAL CLOWN NEWSLETTER (SHOBI DOBI): “good” chemicals into people’s blood streams, there are other things that have the same effect. Pets and members of the clergy also have a positive effect on health and healing.

http://hospitalclown.com/Past%20Issues/Vol%201-6FinalNew.htm

HUMOR HORIZONS (DAVID M. JACOBSON):

http://www.humorhorizons.com

HUMOR AND MEDICINE (GREG KUHN):

http://www.natural-humor-medicine.com

HUMOR THERAPY (ELAINE LUNDBERG):

www.humortx.com

HUMORx (KAREN BUXMAN):

www.humorx.com

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HUMOR AND HEALTH (PAUL MCGHEE): “good” chemicals into people’s blood streams, there are other things that have the same effect. Pets and members of the clergy also have a positive effect on health and healing.

http://www.holisticonline.com/Humor_Therapy/humor_mcghee_article.htm

HUMOR QUEST (Mary Kay Morrison):

http://www.questforhumor.com/

JESTHEALTH (Patty Wooten):

http://www.jesthealth.com

SCRUBS:

http://abc.go.com/primetime/scrubs/index?pn=index

UCLA’s Rx LAUGHTER:

http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/nem097?ijkey-vQVXkCN8QhDjDQe&keytype=ref

THE WHOLE MIRTH CATALOGUE (Allen Klein):

http://www.allenklein.com

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Related PowerPoint “good” chemicals into people’s blood streams, there are other things that have the same effect. Pets and members of the clergy also have a positive effect on health and healing.

  • Clowns

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References: “good” chemicals into people’s blood streams, there are other things that have the same effect. Pets and members of the clergy also have a positive effect on health and healing.

Adams, Patch. Gesundheit! Bringing Good Health to You: The Medical System, and Society through Physician Service, Complimentary Therapies, Humor and Joy. Rochester, NY: Hewaling Arts Press, 1993.

Berk, Lee S., Stanley A. Tan, William F. Fry, Barbara J. Napier, Jerry W. Lee, Richard W. Hubbard, John E. Lewis, and William C. Eby. “Neuroendocrine and Stress Hormone Changes during Mirthful Laughter. American Journal of Medical Sciences. 298 (1989): 390-396.

Buchowski, M. S., K. M. Majchrzak, K. Bloomquist, K. Y. Chen, D. W. Byrne, and J.-A Bachorowski. “Energy Expenditure of Genuine Laughter.” International Journal of Obesity 31.1 (2007): 131-137.

Buttny, Richard. “Therapeutic Humor in Retelling the Clients’ Tellings.” Text 21.3 (2001): 303-326.

Buxman, Karyn, and Anne LeMoine, eds. Nursing Perspectives on Humor. Staton Island, NY: Power Publications, 1995.

Coser, Rose. “Some Social Functions of Laughter: A Study of Humor in a Hospital Setting.” Human Relations 12.2 (1959): 171-172.

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