The effect of laughter on human health

1.Laughter is one of the reactions of a person to a funny or tickle, the manifestations of which are known to all and include involuntary movements of the face and body, specific sounds and changes in rhythmic breathing. In some cases, laughter may be a reaction to nervous tension (nervous laughter) or be a symptomatic disorder.

 

The science of laughter

The study of laughter, humor and its impact on the human body is engaged in the section of psychiatry – gelos (in Greek – “laughter”). The phenomenon of laughter is also addressed by philosophers (Aristotle, Henri Bergson, L. V. Karasev, etc.).

 

2.Mechanics and Physiology of Laughter

Laughter is a complex act consisting of modified respiratory movements in connection with a certain facial expression. As for the former, when laughing after a sigh there should be not one, but a number of continuous sometimes short spasmic exhalations with an open vocal gap; if the vocal cords are given in oscillatory movements, a loud, resounding laughter – laughter; if the cords are left alone, laughter is quiet, silent.

 

Mimicry when laughing

As for mimicry when laughing, it is caused by the contraction of certain groups of facial muscles that give the face a famous expression characteristic of a laughing person. There are many similarities in the changes in breathing and mimicry when laughing and crying, so that these conditions, on the outside, can be mixed with each other, and in children, these conditions even easily pass into each other.

 

3. Laughter and Behaviour is an emotionology

According to the data of modern ethological researches, laughter, apparently, has arisen at the general ancestors of the man and humanoid apes more than 10 million years ago. The same paper shows that the vocalization of laughter caused by the tickle of apes’ cubs is much more similar to human laughter than previously thought.

Human laughter correlates with friendliness, and strange as it may seem, with aggression – it is seen as a form of playful behaviour that may contain a hidden threat: “Look what I can do to you, but I won’t do it”.

From here, the origin of the words “mocking laughter”, “threatening laughter” becomes clear.

 

There’s a saying, “Laughing for no reason is a sign of foolishness.” However, this saying usually refers only to the laughter of bipolar affective disorder patients (manic-depressive psychosis) in the mania phase (the saying goes from manic laughter to depression). Reasonless laughter of a healthy person is a sign of a good mood and good physical condition. Normal, natural laughter soothes the nerves, relaxes muscles, improves health.

Studies have shown that when laughing from facial muscles there are special impulses that have a beneficial effect on the nervous system and brain function, relieving tension. Even when you’re not having fun and squeezing out a fake smile, the mechanism works and the soul feels much better. Scientists believe that laughter is a “social reflex” developed by people, because when you see a person laughing or smiling, other people also come in a good mood.

 

It turned out that angry people suffer from heart disease more often than cheerful people. Funny people are less likely to have a heart attack. This is due to the fact that laughter strengthens the endothelium, the cells that lavish blood vessels and heart cavities from the inside.

 

Emotional shades of laughter

Depending on the situation, laughter can be emotionally colored differently. These differences are conveyed by writers when describing a particular situation, in one form or another. Thus, “bru-ga-ga” (boo-ga-ga-ga) is frankly mocking, and “chi-hee-hee” is inquisitive[5], etc. A special manifestation of emotion is also the so-called “laughter through tears”.

 

4.Effect of laughter on human health:

As early as 2000 years ago, Hippocrates noted in one of his essays the benefit of laughter and considered it a therapeutic tool. Leo Tolstoy claimed that laughter gives rise to vivacity, and Maxim Gorky wrote that “smart laughter – an excellent stimulant of energy.

“Ten times you must laugh during the day and be merry: otherwise you’ll be disturbed by the stomach at night, it’s the father of grief.”

 

Fidrich Nietzsche

 

American scientists at Stanford University have proven that humor affects the same brain centers as cocaine. The researchers invited their friends, spouses and colleagues to choose the funniest pictures and showed them to 16 volunteers. At the time the cartoons were viewed, the brain response was monitored using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance).

It turns out that if there is a lot of laughter, those brain centers are excited, which are activated when cocaine is used, or when you get a big win, money or even when you see a sexual potential partner.

 

Special attention was paid to the brain area of Nucleusaccumbens, which reacts instantly after seeing the picture and does not give any reaction at all if the picture is not funny.

In this part of the brain there is a huge amount of dopamine, which causes a pleasant sensation. Neurologists believe that everyone’s known feeling of euphoria has its origin in this part of the brain.

This discovery will be very helpful in the treatment and detection of depression, and it will be possible to monitor more carefully the effects of drugs taken. After all, in a person suffering from depression humor is perceived differently.

 

How do we learn to laugh?

 

All people on earth know how to smile and laugh. However, people learn how to laugh just like they learn how to talk. The eyes of the mother teach this child the first 4-8 weeks of life. At 2-3 months of age, the child starts not only to smile, but also to laugh. By the age of 6, the child smiles and laughs about 300 times a day and his laughter sounds fun and carefree. As it grows older and adapts to the behavior of others gradually reduces the number of smiles, but still continues to smile about 15 times a day. This kind of “boredom” causes illness.

By the way, laughter can be very different: kind and poisonous, joyful and sad, smart and stupid, impudent and frightened, ironic and good-hearted, cynical and modest. And not every kind of laughter is likely to have a positive effect on health – it is the material for further research.

 

Close study of the curative properties of laughter, scientists have recently – about mid-sixties of the twentieth century. The first to pay attention to the impact of laughter on the body of the American neurologist William Fry. He was able to establish that laughter strengthens the immune system, reduces the production of stress hormones – cortisone and adrenaline – and increases the content of the blood “hormone of happiness” endorphin: it dulls the feeling of pain and helps to see things better.

By the way, laughter can also be seen as a specific massage that promotes relaxation of more than 80 muscle groups.

 

Laughter strengthens the heart and can even reduce hypertension. Studies have also shown that laughter is beneficial for those who have had a stroke or suffer from chronic brain ischemia. The secret is that there is a direct link between mimic muscle tension and blood supply to the brain. And the strongest link between mimic muscles is when we smile or laugh. Laughter dramatically changes our breathing rhythm: the breath becomes deeper and longer and the exhalation, on the contrary, is shortened. As a result, gas exchange accelerates several times, and this has a good effect on all organs and body systems – roughly like a walk in the park after rain.

 

The idea that laughter can be used quite seriously for medical purposes came to the mind of American journalist Norman Casins in the mid-seventies: he managed to heal from severe bone disease due to the fact that several weeks in a row watched a movie comedy. Laughter therapy began to develop rapidly in the States, spread to Europe, and now has reached Russia.

Today there are three main areas of laugh therapy. The first is called classical laughter therapy: in individual and group sessions, gelotologists tell funny stories, anecdotes, including from their own lives, and offer to remember everything funny from their experiences, choose the best humorous movies and books. Studies conducted in the U.S. have shown that such “therapy” can lead a person out of depression without using any antidepressant drugs.

 

The second direction – “medical clownery” – was created again in America in the 80s. Most often “medical clowns” work in children’s medical institutions.

 

The third direction is “laughter yoga” by Bombay doctor Madan Kataria. The main task of this direction is to teach to laugh easily and naturally, to express your emotions with laughter.

In recent years, more and more people are talking about the possibilities of laughter diagnostics – a method that allows to learn a lot about a person’s subconscious, personality, to solve the patient’s inner conflicts by analyzing laughter. By the way, the founder of laughter diagnostics is Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky: in “Teenager” he writes that “laughter is the most faithful sample of the soul”.

 

Laughter is soothing

 

Laughter releases endorphins, hormones of happiness that help to get rid of irritation and sadness. Even if you just remember for a moment how you laughed recently, your mood will improve. Studies of British psychologists have shown that after watching a funny movie, the level of irritation in a person decreases several times. Moreover, the mood of the subjects raised from the mere thought that soon they will laugh – two days before the scheduled viewing of the comedy, they were angry twice as less than usual.

 

Laughter improves the skin

 

You want to look good? Laugh! This process involves almost all the muscles in the face, while increasing their tone, which contributes to a better appearance.

If you laugh a lot, you can forget about expensive therapeutic and cosmetic procedures to improve the skin, because laughter tones the facial muscles and improves blood circulation, resulting in a natural blush.

 

Laughter enhances relationships

The ability to laugh together is crucial to building good and good relationships. Connecting people and their general idea of what can be funny allows them to be more open with each other. If you’re kidding, you’re not afraid to seem ridiculous. Which means you trust.

 

Laughter increases immunity

 

Laughter helps fight infections. After a minute of sincere laughter, the body throws a large number of antibodies into the respiratory tract, which protect against bacteria and viruses. Laughter also increases the production of white blood cells that fight against various diseases, including cancer.

 

Laughter heals the heart

 

Laughter expands blood vessels and allows blood to circulate better. Ten minutes of laughter can significantly reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of cholesterol plaques. Laughter helps even those who have survived a heart attack – doctors believe that a good mood reduces the likelihood of a second attack.

 

Laughter relieves pain

The hormones of happiness endorphins that are produced when a person laughs are natural painkillers in our body. In addition, when you laugh, you are distracted from feeling bad and forget about pain for at least a few minutes. Doctors have long noticed that patients who are in a positive mood and find the strength to laugh, bear the pain much easier than those who are sad.

 

Laughter develops the lungs

 

Laughter is one of the best exercises for people with asthma and bronchitis. During laughter, lung activity is activated, thus increasing the supply of oxygen to the blood, which allows you to cleanse sputum stagnation. Some doctors compare the effect of laughter with chest physiotherapy, which removes sputum from the airway, but laughter has an even better effect on the airway.

 

Laughter conquers stress

British scientists have studied the effect of laughter on human health. Two groups of volunteers were created. One group showed records of humorous concerts for an hour, while the second group was asked to just sit quietly. After that, the participants in the experiment took a blood test. And it turned out that those who watched the humorous concert had lower levels of “stress” hormones of cortisol, dopamine and adrenaline than the second group. The fact is that when we laugh, the physical load on all parts of the body increases. When we stop laughing, our body relaxes and calms down. So laughter helps us get rid of physical and emotional tension. Scientists say that a minute of sincere laughter is equivalent to forty five minutes of deep relaxation.

 

Laughter helps you get in shape

 

In fact, laughter is a kind of aerobic exercise because laughing you breathe in more oxygen, which stimulates the heart and blood circulation. It is even considered to be “internal” aerobics because during laughter all internal organs are massaged, which allows them to work more efficiently. Laughter is also good for strengthening abdominal, back and leg muscles. One minute of laughter is equivalent to ten minutes of exercise on a fun machine or fifteen minutes on a bicycle. And if you laugh with all your heart for one hour, you can burn up to 500 calories, the same amount you can burn while running fast for an hour.

 

Happy journey to a happy life

Today, researchers believe that only 50% of our ability to be happy is genetically engineered. “The Happy Man Rules will help you realize your potential, teach you how to enjoy life and give you the opportunity to laugh more often.

 

Be an extrovert

 

Be talkative, confident and not afraid of adventure. Where do I start? For example, a walk in the woods with old friends. Have fun, make jokes and feel free to express your emotions.

 

Talk more

 

Studies have shown that people who speak frankly about their thoughts are happier than the silent ones. That doesn’t mean you have to say everything on your mind. Just learn to speak out and defend your opinion – it will make you feel happier.

 

Talk more with your friends

A good good laugh is not only useful because it cheers you up. People who like to laugh are less sick, less annoyed and do not know what depression is.

 

Don’t expect anything

 

Waiting for happiness is the most important obstacle to happiness. I will be happy when I lose weight/residence in a new apartment/residence for a new job/find the man of my dreams. Focus on what you have and be happy right now. And beware of “when” and “more”: they are the ones that prevent you from being happy.

 

Take your laughter seriously

 

Set yourself a very serious goal – to laugh every day. Consider laughter a vitamin that should be taken regularly. You don’t want to joke because there’s not enough time? Here’s what we have to offer:

 

Death by laughter is a rather rare and specific phenomenon, in which long and often uncontrolled laughter is the cause of biological death. In most cases, prolonged laughter is the cause of acute heart failure. In addition, deaths from laughter are sometimes attributed to the death of a person caused by the loss of control over himself in the state of an attack of laughter.

 

Historical

According to legend, the ancient Greek priest and soothsayer Calhas was accurately predicted the day he died. When that day came, and death did not seem to come, Calhas began to laugh so much that he died of laughter.

 

In the 3rd century B.C. the ancient Greek philosopher Chrysippus treated his donkey to wine and then died laughing, watching him try to eat figs.

It is mentioned that the Burmese King Nandabain laughed to death in 1599 when a visiting Italian merchant told him that Venice is a state without a king.

 

In 1410, King Martin I of Aragon died. He laughed so hard that he died of dispossession.

 

Death by laughter is attributed to the Italian Renaissance writer Pietro Aretino: according to legend, he broke his head, falling from an explosion of laughter.

In 1782, a certain Mrs. Fitzherbert hysterical happened during the performance of “Opera of the poor. When the stage appeared Charles Banister in the role of fence stolen Pichem, she began to laugh so loudly that she had to withdraw from the theater. The uncontrollable laughter lasted all night and the next day and eventually caused death.

 

On 7 November 1893, the Cuban poet Julian del Casal was having dinner with friends when one of his guests told a joke that started an uncontrollable laugh that caused a ruptured aortic aneurysm, bleeding and sudden death.

 

In modern times

 

On March 24, 1975 Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King’s Lyn (UK), died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies. After 25 minutes of continuous laughter, Mitchell died of heart failure. His widow later thanked The Goodies for making the last moments of his life so enjoyable.

In 1989, the Danish doctor Ole Bentsen died while watching the movie comedy “Fish named Wanda. His pulse is estimated to have reached 250-500 beats per minute, after which Bentsen died of a heart attack].

 

In Bangkok in 2003, an ice-cream truck driver reportedly died laughing in his sleep. He continued laughing for two minutes, after which his wife tried to wake him up. An autopsy of the body revealed that he had suffered a heart attack that led to his death.

 

  1. The basics of the laughing analysis

 

HOW ARE YOU LAUGHING?

If you…

1) cover your mouth with your hand – you are not sure of yourself and prefer to stay inside yourself.

2) when laughing, you often throw your head – you are gullible, you have a broad nature, you focus on feelings rather than mind. Perhaps you should think about it.

3) You touch your face and head with your hand when laughing – you are a dreamer. There is nothing bad about it, but reality will sooner or later take its own.

4) wrinkle your nose when you laugh – you are an emotional person and maybe capricious. Do not give in to your momentary moods so much – it spoils your life and that of your loved ones.

5) laugh loudly – you are temperamental and mobile. This is good, but moderation is needed in everything, and you too can not hurt a little.

6) tilt your head before quietly laughing – you are conscientious, constantly controlling yourself, afraid to make a false move. Try to relate to reality and to people a little easier, stay free.

7) when laughing, hold on to your chin – no matter how old you feel at 20. This is great, but try to be more serious, especially when it comes to responsibility.

8) squint when laughing – you are balanced and persistent. That’s good anyway.