Humour is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. People of all ages and cultures respond to humour.

There are many theories explaining about what humour is and what social function it serves like psychological theories, spiritual theories, incongruity theory etc. The vast majority of psychological theories consider humour-induced behaviour to be very healthy where as  many spiritual theories consider humour to be a “gift from God“.

About understanding humour some claim that humour cannot or should not be explained. Humour is thought to include a combination of ridiculousness and wit in an individual. The connotations of “humour” as opposed to “comic” are said to be that of response versus stimulus.

Humour has the potential to relieve stress in patients and medical professionals. Humour gives patients the opportunity to forget about their anxiety and pain, if only for a brief period of time. When doctors share humour with patients, they create lines of communication that encourage patients to discuss difficult issues. In effect, humour can put both parties at ease in a way that more formal types of communication cannot.

Medical professionals also use humour to deal with the tension that results from working in the modern medical environment. Doctors acquire their signature humour while in medical school. This behavior continues as students complete their training and begin working in the health care system. It is seen in the banter and jokes one witnesses on the wards and even in the humour doctors publish in the medical literature. Many physicians often use humour in lectures and other presentations.

Despite the preliminary work in this area, many questions remain. Do patients want their physicians to use humour on a regular basis in clinical interactions? Do physicians think that the medical literature is an appropriate forum for humour that satirizes the profession? Will the health benefits of humour be substantiated in future, well-controlled research? Only time and effort will answer these questions.

It seems that at least in some areas, however, humour is off to a good start.

Warm regards,

Dr. Indrajit Rana

Founder of Medical Humour