Can Laugh Therapy Help With Cancer?

If you have ever taken a psychology class then you have probably heard about Norman Cousins, who healed himself through laughter (and vitamin C). He discovered that ten minutes of good belly laughter would give him two hours of good sleep. He was able to get off of pain killers and went from being given a few months to live for his condition to getting back on his feet in six months and returning back to work in two years.

So, I decided to do this. I decided to use laughter to help me, oh and massive doses of chemotherapy. The hard thing about getting chemotherapy is it feels like you aren’t active in your treatment to get better. You just wait and hope.

In order to feel like I was doing something to help myself, I used different methods. I visualized the chemotherapy killing the cancer, I repeated the words, “I’m cancer free” daily, and I watched a ridiculous amount of “Friends.” This was the show that made me laugh from the belly. This was my adaptation of what Norman Cousins had done… along with massive amounts of chemotherapy.

I would watch episode after episode of “Friends.” Not only would I laugh, but it helped take my mind off of what was happening. I mean how can you not laugh when Ross tries leather pants and gets into trouble. Just watch and enjoy.

The Mind-Body Connection

There is an undeniable mind-body connection. In this article from Scientific American Jo Marchant talks about a new therapy in Seattle where they treat burn victims for pain with a video game.

“…researchers in Seattle have developed a virtual reality landscape called Snow World. You fly around inside an ice canyon and fire snowballs at characters inside the game, such as penguins and snowmen. It’s meant to work as a painkiller: the idea is that the brain has a limited capacity for attention, so if the ice canyon commands that attention, there is less capacity left over for experiencing pain. When I tried Snow World, the researchers used a heated box to simulate a burn to my foot – it was quite painful outside the game, but once immersed, I had so much fun I barely noticed it.” -Jo Marchant


Mind-Body Treatment and Medical Schools

What was once thought of as quackery, is now being incorporated in top-level medical schools. More and more have dedicated departments to mind-body treatment, some of these schools include: Harvard University, Columbia University, University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Pittsburgh. They are exploring topics from dancing and the brain with possible benefits for those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, to Yoga for Anxiety and Depression. Once again, these are top-level medical schools that are studying these topics.


If you want to have more of an active role in your treatment, find your “Friends,” find what makes you laugh. At the very least it will take your mind off of things and give you something to smile about, it may even help alleviate pain and assist with healing.

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