Humor and laughter have a long history, as they have been part of the human culture for as long as we can go back in time. The benefits of humor and laughter are even referenced in the bible - Book of Proverbs 17.22, where it states: "A cheerful heart does good medicine, but a broken spirit makes you sick."
Overview of humor throughout history through the ages
14th Century French surgeon Henri de Mondeville used humor therapy to aid recovery from surgery. He wrote "Let the surgeon take care to regulate the whole regimen of the patient's life for joy and happiness allowing his relatives and special friends to cheer him and by having someone tell him jokes."
16th Century Robert Burton, an English parson and scholar used humor as a cure for melancholy.
16th Century Martin Luther used a form of humor therapy as part of pastoral counselling of depressed people. He advised them not to isolate themselves but to surround themselves with friends who could joke and make them laugh.
17th Century Herbert Spence, sociologist used humor as a way to release excess tension.
18th Century Immanuel Kant, German philosopher used humor to restore equilibrium.
18th Century English physician William Beattie used humor in treatment of the sick.
20th Century Modern humor therapy dates from the 1930's, when clowns were brought into the U.S. hospitals to cheer up children hospitalized with polio.
20th Century - 1972 The Gesundheit Institute is founded by U.S. Doctor Hunter 'Patch Adams. This is a home-based free hospital to bring fun, friendship, and the joy of service back into health care.
20th Century - 1979 Norman Cousins publishes his book'Anatomy of an Illness' based on his own experiences he had been suffering from anklyosing spondylitis and decided to use his own brand of 'Humor Therapy' by watching episodes of the television show 'Candid Camera' and Marx Brothers movies. He caimed that 10 minutes of laughter could give him 2 hours of pain relief.
20th Century - 1998 Renewed interest in the uses of humor as therapy thanks to the release of the movie 'Patch Adams' starring Robin Williams and based on the real Doctor Hunter 'Patch Adams.'
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