Western Michigan University - Holistic Health 5370

Health and Humor

HOL 5370 Health and Humor
Kay Caskey          (269) 569-4002
Laurie Young        (269) 569-5251
Credit Hours:

Course Description:

This course will focus on the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of laughter, humor and play. We will explore recent discoveries and research regarding their role in human physical and mental health. Students will learn the social significance of humor and play, what makes people laugh and why, the role of happiness, and we will learn ways to increase happiness and playfulness, use laughter and humor as a stress management technique, and build a basis for appropriate use of humor in helping others.

Course Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to identify the health risks in the 1990's, the role of the health care system vs. life style decisions in treating these risks, and discuss the role of humor, happiness, play, and laughter along with the other stress management interventions.
  2. Students will be able to identify the psychological effects of laughter and their impact on human health.
  3. Students will be able to describe and give examples of laughter used as a physical catharsis and its role in relaxation.
  4. Students will learn about the role of laughter and humor in forming emotional bonds and therapeutic and trusting relationships.
  5. Students will learn about the sociology of laughter and humor, the various humor theories, and will explore society's myths and rules about humor, happiness, and laughter. In addition they will understand the difference between laughter that hurts and laughter that heals and connects people.
  6. Students will learn about the impact of humor and laughter on creativity and learning.
  7. Students will learn about the demography of happiness, the traits of happy people, and the role of humor and laughter,
  8. Students will develop useful therapeutic interventions using humor and play in a variety of settings.
  9. Students will construct a homework project to apply skills learned in call to living, learning, or working settings and analyze the results.

Specific areas of instruction include the following:

  1. Overview/review principals of holistic health and explore the role of laughter and health.
  2. Physiological effects of laughter.
    a. Muscular/skeletal.
    b. Cardiovascular effects.
    c. Endocrine/immune functioning.
    d. Facial expressions & health.
    e. Laughter as a physical catharsis.
    f. Theories on the evolution of laughter.
  3. Humor as an intellectual activity.
    a. History of humor theories from the days of Plato and Aristotle to
        present day.
    b. Types of categories and jokes.
  4. Humor and emotions.
    a. Common myths.
    b. Humor and relationships.
  5. Happiness.
    a. Happiness research.
    b. Demography of happiness and traits of happy people.
    c. Happiness in work and play.
    d. Role of humor and laughter in happiness.
  6. Uses of therapeutic humor.
  7. Uses of negative humor and control
    a. Healthy vs. hurtful use of planned humor.
    b. Control of other people's laughter.
    c. Importance or context in the use of humor interventions.
  8. Ways to help ourselves and others increase healthy laughter and humor