Laughter Therapy [#247]

February 13, 2018


Can laughter be used to heal people from [emotional] illnesses?  


I will explain this briefly; this question is really leading to something else. We should understand that there are some people who are very much ‘down in the dumps’, and laughter can help such people. But, everything needs to be used properly and be given its proper boundaries. When people overdo laughter and joking, firstly, they fall too far into their laughter and joking, and in addition, they are getting others to think that laughter and joking should be a basic part of life. They don’t know how to place boundaries on the power of laughter and joking.

If laughter is just being used as a form of therapy to heal someone, that is one thing; but what usually happens? Laughter is made into a part of life itself. When laughter is used within its proper boundaries, it is holy. As soon as it is overdone, though, not only does laughter not help, it is damaging. In a case where someone needs laughter as part of his therapy, if this is the only thing that can help him, then by all means, the person helping him should use laughter to help him, without question.

If someone is in a little bit of a better situation than this and he is only minimally depressed, there are two abilities he can use to be helped: to awaken inner simchah, and to also use external leitzanus (joking and humor). But when people get used to leitzanus as a way to heal themselves from pain, they come to view it as a part of life, and he is brought down from a higher spiritual level into a lower level of living.

Another example is when people rejoice with the chosson and kallah at weddings. Most of the time, by simchas chosson v’kallah, people think that gladdening the chosson and kallah means to make leitzanus in front of the chosson and kallah. This is not using leitzanus as a way to heal people; it is simply an example of how people use leitzanus as a basic part of their life, where they bring down people from a higher spiritual level that they could have remained on. When people think that simchah (happiness) means sechok (laughter) and leitzanus (joking), it is because they don’t know when and where the power of sechok should be used. Once people engage in leitzanus, there are “no strings attached” anymore, and then people think that simchah means leitzanus.

The common denominator between the scenarios of laughter therapy, gladdening a groom and bride, and simchas Purim, is that many people erroneously think that “simchah” means to act with leitzanus.