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Friday, September 9, 2011

What are we saying?

I spent the day with a lovely friend recently. We chatted and I did what I love; gave advice. While we were together I noted a pattern of speech that I recognised. It is the tendency to profess guilt or bad habits. She would say "another bad habit I have" or "I am guilty of". I hope I was able to dispel this for her. We had a wonderful visit . I keep coming back to these ideoms. In America especially we speak against ourselves. I personally am a Christian but even secular psycology espouses self prediction or self fulfilling prophecy. The gist is you will follow what you hear, and if you don't guard what you hear ;you will agree with what you hear and your mind will work towards fulfilling it. It is the basis of all advertising and manipulation. The Bible says that "as a man thinks so shall he go". Ok, no preaching... but if you go with a secular example:in the 1970's a man wrote about his battle with chronic back pain. Doctors gave him a negative report and sent him home without hope. He rented a hotel room and gathered every comedic media,film and book he could find and watched them. He had a remarkable recovery and wrote about it.

The Use Of Humour In Stress Management
By Sylvia Mauger

Stress News July 2001 Vol.13 No.3

There is no doubt that any form of counselling, be it psychotherapy, stress management or anything else, is a very serious business. We read so many serious texts and go to so many serious meetings and classes that it is easy to get into a mode of solemn gravity. And, of course, this is largely because we are committed to treating our clients with respect. But in this paper I would like to suggest that respect can include humour and that laughter during a counselling session can be very therapeutic.

Humour: what is it and what place does it have in stress management counselling?

The Oxford Concise Dictionary defines humour as 'the quality of being amusing or comic; the ability to perceive or express humour or take a joke', but this is not particularly helpful in therapeutic terms. What is amusing or comic to one person may not be to another and, of course, we are not in the business of entertaining our clients as comics. So if humour is not necessarily about telling a joke, then what is it and how can it have beneficial effects in stress management counselling?

Windy Dryden, writing in Brief Rational Emotive Therapy, quotes Albert Ellis saying 'that one way of conceptualising psychological disturbance is that it is the tendency of humans to take themselves, other people and life conditions TOO seriously.' He goes on to describe how, in order to change, negative events need to be taken seriously, but that if they are taken too seriously, emotional disturbance may follow and action for change can be impaired. Indeed, as the whole model of stress management as conceived in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is based on the idea that people suffer emotional dysfunction when their thinking is irrational, humour can be seen as one of the many ways of 'untwisting' a client's cognitive distortions.

Of course, this does not imply that every stress management counsellor can laugh and joke their way through every session with every client, but it does mean that if a counsellor is sensitive to the mood of the client, a little humour can go a long way. If the therapeutic bond is comfortable, it will be clear to the client that the therapist is not laughing at the client but at the irrationality of her/his ideas. Laughing with people is compassionate, laughing at them is immoral and unethical. Indeed, it can often be the case that laughing together can act, not only as a tool of communication, but can strengthen the bond between the two people concerned. As Victor Borge, the American entertainer, once wrote, 'Laughter is the shortest distance between two people'. (quoted by Robert Holden, ISMA)

The physiology of humour

It is well known that stress causes physiological changes that are dangerous when prolonged Cortisol levels and blood pressure are elevated and the heart rate is increased amongst a host of other stress triggered responses. There is now considerable research that suggests that laughter lowers cortisol levels and stimulates the immune system, off-setting the immunosuppresive effects of stress. (Patty Wooton, Humour: An Antidote for Stress).

This research was preceded in 1979 by Norman Cousins who had, through his personal experience, attracted the attention of the medical profession to the possible therapeutic effects of humour. He contracted ankylosing spondylitis in 1964 and decided that the hospital regime of strong medication, dull food and the institutional regime was so depressing that any benefits he was gaining could be maximised outside the conventional regime. So, based on his own research, he developed a programme of therapy consisting of megadoses of a mix of vitamin C combined with regular doses of laughter stimulated by re-runs of the Marx Brothers films and Candid Camera. These treatments of belly laughs appeared to relieve his pain considerably and, indeed, when his levels of inflammation were tested, they were found to have decreased. Cousins also asserted that the increased release of endorphins caused by laughter eased the pain.

I assert that not just pain levels but point of view is affected by our words and the activities we partake of. Watch uplifting media, laugh, do activies you personally ENJOY.

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy, I need to show this post to the spouse. He's not happy with me watching sitcoms on netflix.