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How Laughter Works

By CJC1013 Feb 25, 2013 1249 Words
How Laughter Works
Claudia Carnessali
Selby-College Comp

The essay that I chose from the book was the one by Marshall Brain “How Laughter Works”. I chose to write about this essay because this one is more in depth of where laughter actually comes from how its more than just jokes that people laugh at every day. Start off with a dash of sarcasm and a dash of vulgarity. At least that’s what my friends and I do. Laughter is a form of enjoyment towards one another. Means we are remotely comfortable to be openly laughing at something. Laughter is defined as “A voluntary reaction to certain external or internal stimuli.” It is also most commonly considered a visual expression of a number of positive emotional states such as joy, mirth, happiness, relief etc. Laughter usually occurs when one is comfortable to be around another person. Researchers believe that the purpose of laughter is related to making and strengthening human connections. A psychological study showed that laughter has its own name - gelotology. Gelotology is from the Greek word “gelos” meaning laughter. Brain mentions people that are ticklish often wonder “Why can’t I tickle myself?” In order for tickling to work the brain needs tension and surprise. Obviously when you try to tickle yourself you know its coming so the brain does not react to you tickling yourself. But if someone starts to tickle you, your brain has that surprise and then you tense up. This made sense to me but not completely. Laughter also benefits one’s health and fight disease. The purpose of laughter is to relieve ourselves from stress of everyday life and laughter also increases our white blood cells and our immune system. Laughter releases endorphin which is the body’s natural pain killer and so is a pleasant act, producing a general feeling of well-being. Mental health professionals are suggesting “laughter therapy”, which teaches the patients to laugh at things that are not usually funny. It also helps the patients cope with difficult situations. Laughter just in general makes anyone feel great about one ’s self. Laughter is considered one of the best medications. Laughter predates human speech by millions of years, scientists think. It likely evolved as an early form of communication to help people negotiate group dynamics and establish hierarchy. Laughter nowadays is a form of expression. We rarely laugh when we are by ourselves but when we are with other people we laugh more out loud. People usually laugh at anything that they find humorous, even other people for the most part. For instance, The Darwin awards are stories about people who Brain mentions people make careers based on laughter, like comedians. No matter where you go, what city you visit, more than likely there will be a comedy club somewhere in that town. Or you can just go to the local bar and find amusement there. Comedy is also found on television. You can watch your daily dose of Scrubs or Friends and get your endorphins flowing. Laughter always helps other people get people out of a funk that they are in, laughter is contagious. When someone laughs it triggers circuits in our brains then a grin appears which makes more laughter happen. Brain said that depending on age, we laugh about different things. Like if you were a pre-teen in your teenage years basically they laugh at anything mentioning sex, peers, and food and authority figures. As you mature our taste in what we think is funny changes. As we get into adulthood, they usually joke about something less judgmental and more on specific things like referring to movies or plays etc. Brain made me think hard about this. As I read about the pre-teens and teenage years I was thinking what I joked about during that time, and he’s right. Even as we mature we joke around but our jokes now are not like what we used to joke about as kids. I never really thought about it until I read it in this essay. Brain also mentions researchers say that people often store their negative emotions of anger and sadness and fear rather than talking about it someone. Laughter releases all of that built up stress of keeping all of those emotions in. If we start to laugh too much or too hard we start to burst out into tears. Not in a bad way but a good way. This triggers our emotions and the tears are just squeezed out because we scrunch our face when we laugh. When we laugh harder it makes our body want to release some hormones, which are found in tears. The higher the hormones in the tears means the more you have stress. In this essay I believe Brain gave a lot of detailed information and actually made it an easy read. Going through I noticed Brain categorized every section so you knew what you were reading about and not confused about jumping from one subject to another. I did do some more research to verify and find something new on the subjects. Like how laughter was a form of communication 10 million years ago and how laughter is contagious, but I think everyone knows about that one. In Brains’ essay I have learned pretty much everything there is to know on laughter. Where it comes from, what we laugh at, and how it affects our health. I know we laugh about more than just jokes but I had no idea it helps our health. Basically laughter is a cure for anything nowadays.

References
Brain, M.(2009). How laughter works In , W.H Thelin (Ed.), Writing without Formulas (pp.428-435 ). Mason,OH ; Cengage Learning.

Reflective Letter
The essay I chose to do a critique on was “How Laughter Works” by Marshall Brain. This essay grabbed my attention because as I just skimmed the pages deciding which one I was going to read, this essay was very well organized and just by the titles of the sections it was very in depth. This essay was a good read in my eyes. If readers want to know basically the history of laughter or where it comes from, then I would suggest this to any reader. My main point of my essay is basically highlighting all the sections that Brain had wrote about. Brain fascinated me with all the in depth information about the brain itself and the functions of laughter.

I believe the audience that would be interested in reading my paper are people who might have thought Brains’ essay was too long for them to read or basically someone who enjoys information more than just reading something to get a laugh out of it. Brains’ essay was filled with information basically over flowing, and I just highlighted some of the main points that he talked about in each section.

As I read Brains’ essay, I took notes but I typed them so I could start paragraphs from them. I also did research on some of his topics that interested me , like the section of the brain where laughter or emotion comes from. At the beginning of writing my paper basically I had all these paragraphs typed but not in order, I just type what comes to mind. I then would read over all the paragraphs and try and make sense of them and put them in order. I then went through and edited the paragraphs that needed to be edited.

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