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Laugh your way to happy, successful and healthy life: 

Health benefits of Humour

Dr Sampurna Roy MD         July  2016                                  

Humour and Laughter everyday will keep the doctor away.


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 "The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter." Mark Twain

Humor and laughter have been thought to be beneficial for thousands of years.

Why do men laugh?  What is humour?

Many thinkers have tried to answer these questions.

Most people agree that what usually sets us laughing is something happening unexpectedly or out of place or at the wrong time.

The jokes of comedians often make us laugh because they are not at all the sort of thing we should expect a person to say normally.

Other people have said that any happening which makes us feel superior to others makes us laugh.

We are glad that it has not happened to us.

This idea may help to explain why people often laugh when someone slips on a banana peel or is the victim of a practical joke.

It is true that people laugh at many things that would be unpleasant if they happened to us or if they led to serious hurt to the other person.

Other cruel examples of laughter are as follows:

- Laughing at someone's appearance based on skin colour, weight, height, facial expression.

- Laughing at someone's foreign accent and cultural behaviour.

- Laughing at a woman's choice of clothes, makeup and hairstyle.

- Making fun of an overweight, bald, pot-bellied, elderly man.

- Targeting someone from a different religion and nation by creating hilarious cartoons. 

- Mocking someone directly or indirectly by using public platforms like twitter and facebook. In the modern age the real life bullies are called online trolls. 

- Using passive aggressive method to ridicule someone in public forum and calling it freedom of speech.

This is also a form of entertainment and humour for the observers. This reminded me of an incident in a country where a girl got raped in broad daylight and everyone watched it with great pleasure.

It was a form of humour to them.

In my experience most humour is neither unkind nor cruel.

Certainly humour is one of the things that make it easier for people to live close together in large groups, for so many things might lead to quarrels if they were taken seriously.

We call a woman "good-humoured" when she is not made bad-tempered by all the odd and irritating things that can happen to her in everyday life.

The humorous plays, or comedies, of the ancient Greeks started on a special feast day when everyone could do as he liked.

Some still keep up this old tradition at Christmas and other holidays when they celebrate the special days with fun and laughter.

The word "Humour" used to have another meaning in the middle ages and earlier.

Visit: Hippocrates - Father of Medicine- A brief review of his contribution to Medicine and the 'Theory of Humour'

We rely a great deal on others to provide fun, like clowns at the circus, comedians on the stage, the cinema, radio and television and writers of books.



A man’s sense of humour comes out very clearly in the literature of the world, from folk tales and plays to the scenes and characters created by some of the greatest writers.

- Comic characters such as Bottom, Falstaff and Sir Toby Belch appear in Shakespeare’s plays.

- Mr.Pickwick and Mr.Micawber are masterly creations of Charles Dickens.

- An outstanding American humorist was the novelist Mark Twain. 

- Another great comic writer was the French play-wright  Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin ) who poked fun at human weaknesses like miserliness, vanity and jealousy.

- Humorous writers often have a serious purpose behind their laughter, making us see how stupid and ridiculous human behaviour can be, and this was the intention of the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes in his novel Don Quixote.

- Nowadays many people know the characters invented by film and television comedians better than the comic characters in books.

One of the greatest film comedians was Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney was the most famous maker of cartoon films. 

The ability to appreciate humour is directly related to a specific brain region: the anterior portion of the right frontal lobe.

The inability to appreciate a joke is mainly due to pathology in the right frontal lobe of the brain (mainly superior and anterior regions).

This area is related to change in personality of a person.

"Witzelsucht" is a condition in which a person has addiction to telling inappropriate jokes. "Moria" is characterised by silly, euphoric behaviour and inappropriate laughter.  Focal right-orbitofrontal parenchymal lesion is the cause of these bizzare behaviour.

Review of medical literature has shown the importance of humour in health-care settings.

Humour impacts on the physiological and cognitive well-being of a person.

The diagnosis of cancer is extremely stressful, and treatments are difficult.

In many cases patients and nurses use humour as a coping mechanism.

Laughter generates positive affect by triggering activation of the endorphin system.

Endorphins are a class of endogenous opioid peptides produced in the central nervous system  that not only function as neurotransmitters  but also play an important role in the management of pain through their analgesic properties.

β-endorphin, in particular, appears to play a critical role in buffering the organism against the effects of physiological and psychological stress

According to one report clowns were used to help in the recovery of sick children. Clowns brought joy and had a positive effect on hospitalized children.

A good sense of humour appears to be a buffer against stress-related illness. It has a positive effect on the immune system and central nervous system of the body.

Humour plays a powerful and unique role in frail, sick, elderly patients.

A study on the effect of smiling and laughter on mood showed a hearty laughter had a more positive impact than just a simple smile.

Laughter is often considered to be the product of humour.

It is a positive social emotion and is associated with bonding, agreement, affection, and emotional regulation.

Keep away from fake, toxic friends and vindictive spies who will permanently wipe out laughter from your beautiful face and destroy your peace of mind. 

Share your happiness and laughter with those who really matter in your real life.

Make the festive season brighter and more cheerful with like-minded supportive peers in the New Year.

May your actions speak louder than your words.



Further reading;

Laughter and smiling. The gesture between social philosophy and psychobiology.

This is funny: on the beneficial role of self-enhancing and affiliative humour in job design.

Chinese teachers' use of humour in coping with stress.

Moria and Witzelsucht from frontotemporal dementia.

Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold

Witzelsucht after right putaminal hemorrhage: a case report.

Humour appreciation: a role of the right frontal lobe | Brain

Using humour to enhance the nurse-patient relationship.

Use of clowns to aid recovery in hospitalised children.

The frontal lobes. New York: Raven Press; 1986 Stuss DT, Benson DF.


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Dr  Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant  Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)






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