05/08/2012 by Josephine Rose
Cheesy title, I know, but I simply have to share this one. Out of all the lectures I had in Health Psychology, this topic was my favourite! I mean, who doesn’t love to laugh? Seriously, I feel really great after laughing my head off hysterically for around five minutes or so. Apart from the good memories, laughing actually has a great benefit for your immune system!
Let me introduce you to Norman Cousins. Back in 1964, he was diagnosed with a rare disease- Ankylosing Spondylitis (I don’t even know what that is…but it is a disease that has something to do with the connective tissue). His doctors had told him that there was no way he can be cured, that he will die in a short span of time, and that he should make final arrangements for the remaining days of his life.
Did he sulk in one room and wait for his body to fade away? Nope. He was a journalist, and being one determined individual, he decided to try out a different style of treatment with him as the subject! Now from what I remember from our lectures, Norman Cousins found out that around 10 minutes of real, deep, belly laughter had given him hours of pain relief!
He used to stay in bed watching all sorts of humorous and funny movies, anything that can get him laughing. He had lived for a much, much longer time than what the doctors had predicted!
Now I’m not saying here that laughter is a cure-all, but there has been some research to back-up it’s benefits. For example, a study done by Lefcourt in 1990 had participants watch either a film that was very funny, moderately funny, or neutral (they used a recording of a class lecture as the control).
They measured the amount of Immunoglobulin A (IgA; it helps form antibodies to fight off viruses and bacteria in your system) present in the participants’ saliva. They found that while the groups had equal levels of IgA during the start of the study, after watching the films, those who had watched the funniest movie had the highest level of IgA in their saliva. This means that if ever their body is attacked by a virus (or illness of sorts), they would have more of those anti-body producing particles which could help them fight the foreign bodies off!
The good effects of laughter has been researched for some time now, that in fact, in some hospitals, they’ve created a software program known as Subjective Multidimensional Interactive Laughter Evaluation or…you guessed it, SMILE! It’s kind of like a personality test which helps you figure out which movies, books, or videos would most likely make you laugh the most! Imagine that…a prescription for laughter!
The next time you’re having a laugh with your friends, just remember, that not only is it an incredibly fun thing to do, but also, it’s a way of boosting your immune system and helping your body fight off those nasty viruses!
So with that, I’ll leave you with a video that had left me crying with laughter… I hope you enjoy it too! And until the next post!