Laughter Therapy Brookings SD
Hot Springs, SD
American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA)
American Holistic Health Association (AHHA)
LOL: It's Good For You
Ever since the writer Norman Cousins’ groundbreaking Anatomy of
By Allan Richter
In late January, in a small triangular meeting room of a Philadelphia hospital, a dozen cancer patients and some of their family and caregivers suspended reality for 45 minutes. Urged on by a therapist who assumed the role of tour guide, the group escaped on a much-needed vacation to Hawaii without stepping foot out of the room. They laughed all the way there.
Mimicking an airliner carrying them off, they extended their arms and flew in circles around the room; imaginary welcome drinks awaited their landing. They scampered on sun-baked sand and fished along the Hawaiian shoreline. They fluttered around a tropical garden like butterflies and hummingbirds. At the suggestion of therapist Gerri Delmont to “key down,” they ended the trip, gathering handfuls of sand and gazing calmly into the ocean.
Each exercise began with artificial laughter—a series of prompted “hee hee, ha ha, ho ho” chants. Those gave way to the genuine giggles, cheer and glee that were the real aim of the therapy. A half-hour after the session ended, patient Mary Domina still wore a broad smile that pushed up her round red cheeks. “I feel bright, jubilant, alive,” she said. “It was just like a shot of oxygen. When I get in a bad mood, I’m going to think ‘hee hee, ha ha, ho ho.’”
Standing near Domina in the Philadelphia branch of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Scot St. Pierre said the laughter therapy was like a religious cleansing of the soul. “It almost feels like you’ve been to church,” said St. Pierre, whose mother Madona, a patient, likened the therapy’s effects to the tranquility she feels from watching the sea.
With chuckles that sometimes lead to bliss, the sick and ailing—as well as those who don’t want to be—have been tapping the healing power of laughter with increasing fervor since the writer Norman Cousins famously recognized laughter as a source of vitality in his groundbreaking 1979 book Anatomy of an Illness (W.W. Norton & Company). In that work, Cousins chronicled his recovery from ankylosing spondylitis, a deterioration of the connective tissue in the spine that struck him in 1964, with the help of loads of vitamin C and pain-reducing laughter sessions that let him sleep peacefully and that he repeated each time his discomfort would return.
Today, laughter is known to have a wide array of healthcare applications. And it has become more apparent why so many comedians who have had troubled and sometimes tragic upbringings, from Charlie Chaplin to Rodney Dangerfield and Carol Burnett, were so drawn to their line of work.