Laughter Therapy in the news

Dad’s laughter therapy project has been in the news lately; it got a mention on NPR’s Day by Day last Friday. If you go on to read the USA Today story that Luke Burbank mentions, it’s pretty easy to figure out where the reporter found his sources. Also, for those of you who know Dad, some of Luke’s characterizations are pretty laughable. Patch Adams and George Patton would mix about as well as matter and antimatter, but it makes for good radio I suppose.
At first I dismissed Dad’s media prohibition (mentioned in the NPR story) as some PA officer with a limited imagination, but I changed my mind after reading the letters that USA Today received in response to their story. It’s all too easy to dismiss laughter therapy as yet another tool for public relations. With respect to the commenters and the challenges they face, it’s all to easy to draw the wrong conclusion from such a short story. This is not a Pentagon public relations tool, it’s just one program – and more like a labor of love for Dad – that the military has for family support. Nobody expects families to laugh off the situation, but the need for stress management should be evident to everybody.

2 thoughts on “Laughter Therapy in the news

  1. You have cognitive dissonance now. Wait until you see the movie adaptation of Jim’s autobiography, starring Robin Williams as “Scotty.”

  2. Hi, James. I’m in contact with your Dad due to the recent publicity (both good and bad…the bad is what I first came across) over his “Laughter Therapy” project.
    I am the spouse of an active-duty pilot and the creator of Jenny, a comic strip that takes a light-hearted look at life as a military spouse.
    Here are some of the comments I’ve received from real spouses:
    “Thank you so much for these comics. It does make the weeks go by with a little laughter.”
    “Your humor helps put things into perspective. Thanks!”
    “I am a new military wife. I am getting ready to experience my first PCS! I am terrified. These strips have made me laugh a lot off and realize not to take everything so seriously. Thanks.”
    “No one knows more about being “thrown to the wolves” than the wife of a National Guard soldier that’s been activated…and few need more comic relief!”
    “It’s so nice to have something to laugh at and relate to. It has brought a smile to my face while my hubby is gone!”
    These military spouses are saying “Thank You” for making them laugh and it’s always amazed me that no one’s done it before…and then I read about your Dad.
    I want all of the Nay-Sayers out there to know that we’ve got spouses who just need to get through the day! I believe humor is the most important emotion we humans have and your Dad shows military family members how to bring that emotion out.
    That’s why I contacted him. I think he’s a very wise man to use this angle to help the families on the home front…just think how much stress is relieved from the deployed service member if his/her spouse calls with a joke or funny story rather than a “horrible day” story? It’s how my husband and I get through his deployments and it works. Every time I get to talk to him on the phone, I purposefully make him laugh. When I e-mail him, same thing.
    It’s the only way to live life in the military. It’s the only way to live life, period.
    Okay, that’s about enough ranting on the benefits of “Humor and the Military Family” for now, don’t you think? I never knew it was an anti-American thing to do.
    Your friend – Julie Negron

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