The healing power of Humour – Part 1


Healing, Humour, Theoretics


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Facing our psychological issues is difficult, confronting and painful. Remember the old adage, “There’s safety in numbers.” It’s true. But there is solace there too. Misery loves company. I feel much better knowing that the Brazilian Fire Ants are stinging you too. The first-person plural, as in “we” is a comforting word. Loneliness is corrosive. “We” is a kinder word than “I”.

We might be having a tonsillectomy via the rectum. (We must thank music legend Bobby Angel for that one.) We might be having haemorrhoids bitten off by a specially trained Madagascan lemur. We might be passing a kidney stone twice the size of Uluru. We might be stomping on a stonefish. We might have Trigeminal Neuralgia, top of the pops and number one with a bullet on the really bad pain parade. We might have our appalling disorder sunnily likened to being hit in the face by lightening. But it is all so much more fun now that you and I are suffering together. Awful things are less awful when we are not facing them on our lonesome-ownsome. (It is an interesting scientifically validated fact that they also hurt less when we swear about them. But that is a profanity for another day.) In short, the word “we” is an excellent analgesic.

As always there are exceptions. If your friends in Singapore are facing the legal limit of 24 strokes of the rattan for looking cheeky and Caucasian while chewing gum, it may be better to drop temporarily into the first person singular. As in; “I wasn’t there. I do not know these people. I do not know why they keep calling me their friend. I have never seen any of them before in my life. I don’t know what chewy is outside of the context of Star Wars. I have a Chinese great, great grandmother. I need to go now. I have a plane to catch and I need a taxi to Changi now and I mean the airport not the POW camp.”

The truth may well set you free but it very often hurts like hell. There is absolutely no reason to make it worse. Metaphorical Therapy often treads the line between funny and what some may regard as vulgar. But it is a considered path. And one we consider well worth the risk of offending the occasional maudlin lachrymose cry-baby. Psychotherapy is a gritty business. The Metaphorical Therapy System is purpose-designed create an occasional smile in the mind. Yes, we are dealing with serious painful problems. That does not mean we have to be excruciatingly earnest about them. Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” Being unnecessarily serious and sombre is not helpful. It just makes the person who is already suffering fear that their circumstances are more frighteningly hopeless than they first imagined. Laughter relieves stress and has tangible quantifiable therapeutic benefits. And that is a fact.

If in any doubt consult Dr. Google with the search criteria; medical value of humour. After asking if you meant “humor” and after you have reminded Dr Google that there is only the Queen’s English and mistakes made by Americans, she will rustle up about 736,000 results and present you with a mountain of scholarly articles on the subject in 0.74 seconds. But then why bother. We all know how good laughter feels. It’s one of life’s greatest joys. Laughter supports both physical and mental health. Sometimes the only thing we can do is laugh. That’s why our language is peppered with idioms like, “You’ve got to laugh,” and “Laughter is the best medicine”

Dr Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Sage advice, even if he wasn’t thinking about 24 strokes of the rattan in a Singaporean Goal. Laughter is how we celebrate survival. Observe people getting off a scary ride at a carnival. One or two fragile souls might be weeping and wiping vomit off their chins and the backs of unfortunate people in front of them – but the rest will be pissing themselves, whooping, hugging and slapping their thighs. Life is often unfair, unkind, brutish, vulgar and, viewed in the light, sadly not nearly as short as it used to be. Humour is a positive time-tested way to process pain and trauma. Mark Twain said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” We think this is a human truth that applies as much to mental anguish as it does to everything else.

The healing power of Humour – Part 2 will be published in a few weeks time.

What do you think about the humour as a healing power?
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