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Health Benefits of Humor, Psychological

  • By: Nicholas A. Kuiper
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

It has been a long-standing belief that greater humor contributes to better psychological health. Recognized since at least biblical times, this proposal is frequently evident in the popular media, with various celebrities describing how humor-based strategies have helped them battle major mental health problems, including depression. Other anecdotal reports suggest that humor use can help one cope with the psychological trauma of extreme stress. As one illustration, case studies of emergency service providers (firefighters, police, and paramedics) all converge on the use of cynical or dark humor to help relieve the tension and negative emotions associated with highly traumatic incidents. Humor use in these situations provides one important means of distancing or detaching one's self from this trauma, while also helping build group support and ...

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