CURIOSITY

Laughter Is the Best Medicine — Until the Joke Becomes a Medical Problem

The 1962 Laughter Epidemic of Tanganyika

Sandi Parsons
Introspection, Exposition
3 min readMar 6, 2021

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Black & white image of a woman holding her face in her hands. She might be laughing or crying.
Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash

This article was published in ‘Curiosity,’ where Introspection, Exposition writers share the subjects and questions they’re intrigued by and obsess over.

You might be giggling after reading the headline. Laughter? Surely nothing terrible can happen when you laugh? And an epidemic? That sounds a little extreme, especially given the realities of living in a pandemic.

Laughter and its contagious nature is a universal experience. We’ve all experienced the silliness of laughing because someone else has the giggles. No matter how cross you are, the sight of someone else in a fit of giggles eventually turns your frown into a smile. You can’t help it.

Laughter can override bad feelings. You can’t feel unhappy or angry when laughing — it’s not how the human brain wiring works. Laughing helps with our stress levels, eases anxiety, and helps elevate our mood. But it’s not just mood elevation. There are long-term benefits that come from laughter. These include;

  • boosting your immune system
  • pain relief
  • improving self-esteem.

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Sandi Parsons
Introspection, Exposition

Sandi Parsons lives & breathes stories as a reader, writer, and storyteller📚 Kidlit specialist, dipping her toes in the big kid’s pool.