Topic 17 SHRINKS THINK: HUMOR GOOD THERAPY? THINK SO? THINK AGAIN. THE ANSWER IS YES AND NO.
Laugh and Play is one of Cranky Old Lady’s 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Exercises. Following my own advice, several months ago, I went to see Toy Story 3 with my Cranky Old Man (COM). He loves movies that deal with the Holocaust. I find those too painful to bear. The last one I let him take me to was Defiance. A good movie, but not for me. The fact that one group of people triumphed over evil to survive did not keep me from being in a funk for several days. Anyway, a while ago, COM wanted to have a movie date, and that is flattering. That day, I insisted on doing the picking. Feel entitled to have my way with him at least two or three times a year. Toy Story 3 was getting great reviews. The reviews said it was for grownups as well as kids. Maybe for those under forty or even fifty. I knew COM wouldn’t be terribly happy, but thought he might chuckle once or twice. Guess what? He did. I thought would enjoy it. Guess what? I cried my eye’s out and when next on the computer emailed all my On the Down Hill Slope Friends not to see it. As James Amos’ attached article researching humor points out, context is important.
I know some of you won’t read the article. Sad, because it is worth reading. But I will not crank about that. I will instead. Hit the highlights.
Point one:Humor can reduce stress and anxiety. The article talks about it effect on depression. I tend to think Major Mood Disorder if what used to make one laugh no longer does. Goes for the loss of good in any activity.
Point two: As suggested above, and in the article, humor is really a matter of context.
Toy Story 3 is all about loss. Once you hit sixty or seventy on the DownHill Slope, many treasured family members are gone, friends are dead or dying. Being 75 and having just lost another friend when I dragged COM to see this movie, the faucet of my heart opened repeatedly as the story unfolded. I sobbed aloud several times during the film. I remain gratefully it had played for a while, was in a mega theater, a school night and we were there at dinner time. Only two other people in the audience and they were sitting behind me.
Point three: Depressed people do not like cruel humor. The article discussed was about the impact of humor on a major mood disorder. This point made me wonder if angry people–often unhappy under the anger–like nasty jokes. In my Laugh and Play Emotional Fitness Exercise, I state as a cranky truth, cruel humor is not healthy humor. I do not go as far as to suggest jihad on people who make fun of God, Gods, Goddesses, the Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the Virgin Mary, or Prophets. That is taking my cranky advice a bit to far.
Point four: Well, more like an interesting question: What do you think of professionals who joke around with you in the course of treating you. That was strictly forbidden when I was training. Not, however, my preference. As a matter of fact, I prefer some bantering back and forth and my number one Shrink had a sense of humor.
Point five: This is my point, playing off the points made by the Point three and four: Having a sense of humor is indicative of a number of things–emotional fitness, not taking yourself or others too seriously, Cranky Old Lady thinks people thinking they know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and being willing to kill for their version of the truth is sending our world into the black pit of doom. Some truth resides in almost every opinion, many falsehoods surround it. A major crank of this Cranky Old Lady.
STAYING STRONG TIPS: When it comes to my Laugh and Play Exercise, I have a few tips.
- As Elvis used to sing while gyrating: “Don’t be cruel.”
- If trying to make a joke, self-deprecation works best.
- If someone doesn’t get that you are joking, best to confess you were trying to be funny. You can add a line, “Like have to fire my comedy writer” or “If COM says it wasn’t funny, I’d better believe him.
- In order to get most jokes you need to think above the concrete. Kids who haven’t moved to a higher level of thought still laugh at cartoons and jokes, that is mostly at slap-stick from being surprised.
- As a power leader–parent, teacher, preacher, professional, boss or supervisor, if someone never seems to get your jokes. The third one you try on them falls flat. Stop joking. Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.
- Often the inability to laugh is a sign of being stuck at a lower level of thought than the joker, having one or another mental illness including having been traumatized, or having some sacred subjects that the person believes cannot be joked about.
- The Yogi’s have an exercise called Laughter. I used to prescribe Face Feuds–seeing who could make a face funny enough to make others laugh. Would make anger kids sit facing each other and the first one to make the other laugh could get up and go about his life. The other had to sit for two more minutes. Also did laughter-go-rounds at work shops. One person laughs, the next person laughs, and every one else tries not to laugh. Most often by the third or fourth person the room was laughing.
Click here. to see what Shrinks Think posts are about. Cranky Old Lady is a liscenced therapist, taught human behavior and other courses at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and as decided ideas about the mental health field and its knowledge base. Support much, dispute much and can dispute more freely now that I am retired. Most Shrinks Think posts are made on Tuesday, but if something I read from Shrinks makes me particularly cranky or seems truly worth while the topic might appear another day. I suffer from obsessive compulsion at times and can’t control the impulse to Share Knowledge before it all leaks from my aging brain.
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