HED 303 by yurtgc548


      Pete LeRoy, Ph.D.
New Mexico Highlands University
    Las Vegas, NM 87701
         October 2008
           HE 504 – Humor
• “The art of medicine consists in amusing
  the patient while nature cures the disease.”
  – Voltaire
• “The arrival of a good clown exercises a
  more beneficial influence upon the health of
  a town than the arrival of twenty asses laden
  with drugs.” – Thomas Sydenham,
  Seventeenth-Century Physician
• Humor is a human magnet: it attracts all ears and
• Laughter is a universal language, breaking through
  cultural barriers when words cannot
• The word humor comes from Latin word that
  means “fluid” or “moisture”
• In ancient times, the belief was that the body had
  four basic body fluids (humors), each being
  associated with a specific mood or general
• A happy, cheerful spirit was associated with the
  ‘humor’ blood
• When all body fluids were balanced, one was said
  to be in ‘good humor’
• In 1260 a French physician (Henri de
  Moundeville) realized the important relationship
  between positive emotions and sound health
• He routinely allowed family/friends to cheer and
  joke with their sick relatives
• Laughter has not always been looked upon
  with favor
• Europeans in the middle ages and Puritans
  in North America perceived laughter to be
  the work of the devil
• Those caught laughing out loud were often
  denounced as witches or believed to be
  possessed by Satan
• The expression of humor was considered a
  sin in many Christian denominations
• Other comments from those days include:
  “Laughter on any occasion is immoral and
  indecent. Laughter obscures truth, hardens
  the heart, and stupefies understanding. A
  man of parts of fashion is therefore only
  seen to smile, but never heard to laugh.” –
  Lord Chesterfield, 1748
• Examples from today: when Dan Quayle’s
  father said that his son studied only “booze
  and broads” in college, then presidential
  candidate George Bush was heard to say,
  “not many students had a double major.”
• After an attempt on President Reagan’s life,
  he said to physicians attending him, “I hope
  you are all Republicans.”
       Humor, two definitions
• “…the mental experience discovering and
  appreciating ludicrous or absurd ideas,
  events, or situations that bring pleasure or
  enjoyment to the individual.”
• “…the quality of being funny or
  appreciating funny thoughts or acts of
  behavior; the ability to perceive/enjoy what
  is funny or comical, a state of mind,feeling,
  or mood.” – McGhee, 1979
• Humor has two fundamental aspects:
• (1) it can be absorbed or experienced by
  internalizing this perception cognitively
• (2) it can be expressed externally through an
  action in an effort to share it with others
 Factors that must be present for
          humor to exist
• 1. Sources that act as potential stimuli (e.g.,
  a pie thrown in someone’s face
• 2. A cognitive & intellectual activity
  involved with the perception & evaluation
  of these sources (perceiving a faceful of
  whipped cream to be amusing)
• 3. Behavioral responses that are the
  expressions of humor (smiling/laughing)
           Types of Humor
• 1. Parody = closely imitates something, or
  someone, for comical effect
• 2. Satire = most often thought of as a
  written expression of personal and social
• 3. Slapstick comedy = using physical farce
  to generate laughs
           Types of Humor
• 4. Absurd/Nonsense humor = two or more
  concepts that unite to result in a stupid,
  ludicrous, or ridiculous perception
  (Larson’s cartoons, et cetera)
           Types of Humor
• 5. Double Entendre = wordplay where the
  expression has two meanings (usually of a
  sexual nature)
• Example: Chris Rock notes that in
  determining legislation about the
  legalization of marijuana, both houses of
  Congress went into a joint session
           Types of Humor
• 6. Black humor = ‘gallows’ humor is based
  on the fear of death; sometimes described s
  a ‘flirtatious brush with death’
• Much of the humor in the TV series
  M*A*S*H expressed various shades of
  black humor
• Gary Larson’s cartoons are also an example
            Types of Humor
• 7. Irony = two concepts or events which
  when paired together, come to mean or
  expose the opposite of the expected
• Life is full of ironies; receiving a surprise
  check for $100 in the mail only to find a bill
  for $100 the same day
           Types of Humor
• Oxymorons (two opposite concepts) provide
  another type of irony…examples:
• Pretty Ugly; Head Butt; Working Vacation
• Tax Return; Virtual Reality; Dodge Ram
• Work Party; Jumbo Shrimp; Healthy Tan
• Microsoft Works
            Types of Humor
• 8. Dry humor & Puns = described as clever,
  esoteric wit
• Often involves double entendres, words
  with more than one meaning or connotation
• Mark Twain, Groucho Marx, Will Rogers
  are fine examples of creators of esoteric wit
            Types of Humor
• 9. Sarcasm = word means ‘to tear flesh’
• While sarcasm may share elements with
  clever wit, it reveals latent anger (cutting)
• It is an attempt to get verbal revenge
• A sarcastic remark is usually followed by,
  “I’m just kidding.”
            Senses of Humor
• 1. Conventional = two or more people find
  common ground by sharing a similar
  humorous perception and laughing at the
  same time
• 2. Life of the party = the ability to provide
  laughable moments for the amusement of
           Senses of Humor
• 3. Creative = quick-witted, very
  imaginative; a good professional career for
  these people is joke writing
• 4. Good Sport = those willing & able to
  laugh at their own foibles & mistakes &
  enjoy being human
• The use of humor is a defense mechanism,
  yet unlike other conscious or unconscious
  defense strategies to protect the ego, humor
  seems to dissolve the walls of the ego rather
  than intensify them
• Humor is one defense mechanism that can
  increase pleasure & reduce pain at the same
   Examples of Humor to Heal
• Norman Cousins (Head First, and Anatomy
  of an Illness)
• West Virginia Physician Patch Adams
  (portrayed in film by Robin Williams)
• Dr. William Fry has devoted his life to the
  investigation of this mind/body relationship
• “Laugher is clearly related to the reduction
  of stress and the physical symptoms related
  to stress.”
 Quiz, Name That Humor Type:
• Look at the following and determine into
  which category the “humor” falls…
• Humor is like stress…
• It is in the eye of the beholder
• Each person makes an appraisal of the event
  and assigns meaning to it…
• How’d you do?

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