Jake and his friends were watching the TV sitcom Big Bang Theory when suddenly everyone burst into laughter, but after a few seconds, they all quiet and continued watching except for Jake, who has been laughing too much until he rolled on the floor.
Laughter is a response to something humorous. There is laughter out of something funny seen, or heard, or read. When you laugh, your brain pressures you to create that sound (laughter) and movements involuntarily simultaneously. When you laugh vigorously, some changes occur in many parts of your body, even the arm, leg, and trunk muscles. (click here for more details)
Laughter makes someone feel so light and so good. And many studies have supported the claim that laughter is good medicine. One’s good laugh not only relieves stress but induces physical changes. Some organs in your body are stimulated when you laugh. There is an enhancement of oxygen intake that stimulates the lungs, heart, and muscles. There is also an increase in natural endorphin production by your brain.
Long term effect of laughter includes improvement of your immune system. Negative thoughts can stress the body and decrease immunity. But positive thoughts release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses. (click here for more details)
However, not all the time, laughter is good medicine as it can also cause harm to your body, such as in the case of extreme laughter, the one seemingly unstoppable. Either you will experience abdominal muscle strain or throat muscle strain.
Have you also experienced the same thing that had happened with Jake? That feeling when you cannot control your laughter, which seems unstoppable. How do you feel about it?
According to Robert Provine, who wrote “Laughter: A Scientific Investigation,” and a professor at the University of Maryland, involuntary emotional expression disorder turns out to be a misnomer because pure laughter and most crying are never voluntary.
In his book, Provine mentioned an incident in 1962 in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) when a group of school girls began laughing. Other girls have seen and heard their laughter and also started laughing. It was like everyone was infected with a laughter virus that soon the entire school was giggling uncontrollably. It was too much that school had to be dismissed, and the epidemic contagious laughter went on for six months. (click here for more details)
If you or you know someone who burst into laughter until laughter turns into tears, they might have a PBA! If someone has pseudobulbar affect or PBA, a person experiences frequent, involuntary, and uncontrollable outbursts of crying or exaggerated laughing not connected to an emotional state. It is due to a neurological condition or injury that affected the limbic system or the part of the brain that controls emotions. (click here for more details)
PBA is sometimes mistaken as mood disorders when undiagnosed because the mood will appear normal, but episodes can occur at any time. PBA’s emotional response is often very striking, with crying or laughing that lasts for several minutes. For instance, you will guffaw at a simple joke, or might cry or laugh in over situations or events that others do not see as sad or funny.
According to Dr. Josef Parvizi, a Stanford University neurologist studying seizures and pathological crying and laughing, outbursts of laughter or crying are not completely controlled, no matter how much we think they are. Crying and laughing are merely dependent on the flexible interplay between the brain structures, which some are even evolutionarily ancient. (click here for more details)
The interaction takes place without our consciousness, similar to our brain, telling our hearts to beat.
What laughter can make?
How long could you laugh? Well, Belachaw Girma can laugh for three hours and six minutes, which is considered the longest laugh and recorder in Golden Book of Records. Do you think he has PBA?
Girma is teaching Ethiopians how to laugh away their sorrows. He runs a laughter academy for those who would like to learn to laugh as heartily as he does. But way back 20 years, he lost his wife that caused him severe sorrow that he became an alcoholic and a Khat addict. Of course, he had so little to laugh about as his life seemed hopeless and lonely.
You might be surprised that what has changed his perspective and helped him cope with his depressive situation is a book about laughing on cue and learned how to laugh for no particular reason.
Girma established the first laughing school in Africa to train people to laugh regardless of their life unwanted circumstances. During the evening on Saturdays, he and his students meet on a rooftop of a four-story building in Addis Ababa to practice laughing on cue.