My Father’s Gift of The Healing Power of Laughter

Dr. Richard - Southampton, Pennsylvania
Entered on February 6, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65

My father, a good man and good family provider, was a trickster his entire life. He would tell often low-brow but never extremely crude jokes, recite limericks and sing humorous songs, makes noises with various parts of his body, balance broomsticks on the tip of his nose and shoot off harmless small firecrackers.

His humor was never intentionally cruel toward others.

Early in my life, while privately I smiled, I was embarrassed publicly as he used humor to cope with the vicissitudes of life in full view of my friends and family.

As the old cliché goes I realized as I got older he, in turn, became wiser. By that I mean I came to understand and believe that humor, both his own and for all of us, has a sacred quality.

Given the inevitable “curve balls” of life that are thrown our way, humor, I decided, was a profound response to our human dilemma.-perhaps among the most profound.

Also as a physician I ultimately realized that making people laugh was indeed a healing act. I began to study the impact of laughing on human health-the so called mirth response- which has now evolved into a respectable medical discipline backed by a body of research. I even wrote a paper on what I called “Responsible Pleasures” including engaging in laughter which I routinely now “prescribe” to my patients as a behavioral intervention. For this interest I thank my father.

While my father was in his last days of life in a hospice in Delray Beach, Florida in October of 2005, there he was lying in bed in a semi-comatose state uttering one of more popular off color humorous limericks. His brain may have been on automatic pilot for all I know?

I believe that humor is excellent medicine, connects us to the divine, and in the end is a mighty passion for the redemption of man.

My father knew this intuitively. Thanks Dad