Why Do I Laugh When Im Mad
“Do you want me to put the new CD on for you?” my friend asks as she hands me her disc player. “Sure,” I reply. She then proceeds to place the shiny black box in front of me and walks away. Without thinking about it, I start playing the music. Soon enough, I find myself laughing out loud at some lame joke from the song. My wife notices and says, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you laughing?” I look up into her eyes and say, “I don’t know.” In fact, I’m not even sure why I laughed. It just happened. A few hours later, my laughter had subsided but I still couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened. This was no ordinary case of laughing at something funny. It was uncontrollable, involuntary laughter. The experience made me wonder if there were any other cases like mine where people lose their ability to self-regulate emotions such as joy. Is this an isolated incident or does it happen more often than we think? What causes this condition?
Laughter is a universal phenomenon. Some cultures have myths and legends associated with it while others do not. Yet, most agree that it originates from our primitive ancestors who lived thousands of years ago. During those times, laughter was used by cavemen to signal members of their tribe that they would soon be meeting again. As time passed, laughter became a way to express happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, etc. Nowadays, laughter can also help us relieve stress. But how did it get started? There are several theories. One theory proposes that laughter evolved as a result of our capacity to communicate through speech. Another contends that laughter developed because it helped us avoid predators. Still another states that it came about due to its use during hunting rituals. However, experts believe that the roots of laughter may go back much further than these explanations. They hold that laughter emerged because it allowed humans to bond together. For example, researchers found that laughter helps us build relationships with one another. Also, laughter provides clues to other people about your moods. And finally, laughter allows us to release tension and stress.
So far, scientists have identified two types of laughter: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary laughter involves controlled movements of the diaphragm (breathing), chest muscles (chest expansion) and stomach (inflation). On the other hand, involuntary laughter occurs in response to stimuli such as humor, tickling, embarrassment, pain, or surprise. Interestingly, research shows that even though both types of laughter appear to serve similar functions; they originate from different parts of the brain. That means that although we laugh similarly, we produce different kinds of laughs. We all know that laughter can change someone’s mood. But as previously mentioned, laughter serves multiple purposes. Studies show that laughter releases endorphins which provide emotional comfort and relief. Moreover, laughter triggers positive feelings within us. It releases dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin which improve our moods. Even better, laughter reduces anxiety levels and relieves depression. So next time you’re feeling down, try to remember all the reasons why laughter makes you feel good and smile!
If you’ve ever felt sad, mad, or frustrated, then you probably experienced pseudobulbar affect (PBA). PBA is a neurological disorder characterized by uncontrolled laughter. Unlike voluntary laughter, involuntary laughter cannot be stopped. According to recent studies, PBA affects 2% of Americans who suffer from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or Parkinson’s disease. Although most patients report that their symptoms began after receiving physical injuries, head trauma or stroke, many do not mention them until months or years later. Many doctors suspect that the underlying cause of PBA is damage to the nerves that supply the facial muscles responsible for producing facial expressions. Other researchers suggest that the problem lies in the frontal lobe of the brain, specifically the part that controls motor skills. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that PBA can prevent sufferers from expressing themselves adequately. Unfortunately, there is little hope for people with severe forms of PBA. No cure exists and treatment options include psychotherapy, medications, deep brain stimulation, and stem cell therapy.
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