This article is an update to my original article “Exploring the Land of Mirth and Funny” (1994) and my detailed chapter “Integrating Humor into Psychotherapy” (Play Therapy with Adults, 2002). In this article, I have added a brief discussion about the universal triggers that activate one’s sense of humor.
This article also reflects updated thinking on the therapeutic experience of humor.
In the original article, I discussed laughter as a physiological reaction to humor, mirth as an emotional reaction, and wit as cognitive reaction. Over the years my thinking has shifted. Since the emotional experience of mirth and the cognitive experience of wit also activate biochemical/physiological changes, I have revised the model to present laughter as a physical experience rather than physiological, and based on the research on emotion and cognition, now present laughter, mirth and wit as all activating physiological changes. It is these physiological changes that are primarily cited as the therapeutic benefits of humor. (more…)