Jokes Reveal Feelings
"A patient's humor often packs a lot of punch and has pretty much been ignored until recently. If you listen closely to the jokes, you may be able to discover your patient's underlying feelings, gain his trust and open up the lines of meaningful communication."
"Humor prevents a hardening of the attitudes," says Joel Goodman, director of the Humor Project in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and editor of the magazine, Laughing Matters.
Goodman said he had one hospital begin a weekly "staff laugh" for its workers and that morale picked up tremendously.
The Hospital Satellite Network of Los Angeles has even created a television service specializing in humor for hospitals. Called "Patient America," the program beams classic comedies and other entertaining features to recovery rooms.
Program for Hospitals
"Patient America is interested in supporting the philosophy that laughter and comedy might enhance a patient's healing process," said Dr. Ronald J. Pion, the network's vice president. "By combining these 'feel good' movies with wellness and health promotive programming, we think Patient America will augment our hospitals' total patient treatment programs."
Annette Goodheart, a psychotherapist who carries a teddy bear and counsels people who were sexually abused as children, practices from a sailboat in Santa Barbara. She also teaches advanced laughing classes and says a little hilarity is good for the entire cardiovascular system.
"If you can laugh a little, it improves the vision of things," said Goodheart, who often shows up at humor conferences and does nothing but laugh for long periods of time. "If you laugh a lot, it puts things into context."