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Humor Can Facilitate Health

Thomas C. Washburn, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(6):1237. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400060143034.
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To the Editor.—  I was at once amused and chagrined to read the commentary by Elgee in the August 1990 issue of the ARCHIVES, entitled "Norman Cousin's Sick Laughter Redux."1 It appears to me that Elgee uses the very tool of black humor that he so decries in all of comedy. What Elgee provides us is a vehicle for attacking medical care that is not in the mainstream of "traditional American medicine."I believe that there is healing to be found in our response to humor, and so does Norman Cousins. He readdresses the potential medical benefits of laughter in his most recent book, Head First: The Biology of Hope.2 We have been provided bright humor about medicine and physicians by authors through the ages, including Chaucer, Lewis Thomas,3 and Richard Selzer.4 Perhaps the most moving and enlightening example of the power of humor to facilitate


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