Studies have shown that the Healing Power of Laughter is real. There are many positive outcomes for people that laugh on a regular basis. Because of the various benefits, health professionals have begun to incorporate humor into the treatment of patients. The study of laughter as a treatment for physiological and mental illnesses is called gelotology and doctors and physiatrists are now applying this science to treat serious afflictions. One of the components of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is to increase positive emotions, so laughter can be an important aspect of mental health treatment.

Of all the research done on the healing power of laughter; none has failed to top the amazing story of Norman Cousins whose book “Anatomy of an Illness,” describes how he cured himself of a debilitating disease through the use of humor. His story began in 1964, where doctors found that the connective tissue in his spine was deteriorating; a condition is known as Ankylosing Spondylitis. The doctors speculated that his chance of survival was approximately 1 in 500. With knowledge of the healing aspects of humor, Cousins set out to make himself laugh on a frequent basis to assist in his treatment. He reportedly watched old Marx Brothers movies on a consistent basis to induce laughter. He found that he laughed so hard at these films that he was able to stimulate chemicals in his body that allowed him to have several hours of pain-free sleep. When the pain would return he would simply begin to watch a film again and the laughter would re-induce sleep. Furthermore, he was able to measure the changes in his body by assessing his blood sedimentation rate (a key measurement of inflammation and infection in the blood) and found that this rate dropped by at least 5 points after each viewing session. He believes his own laughter helped cure his disease and subsequently lived a long and healthy life — well into his 80’s.

Within the context of the DBT skills group provided at Specialized Therapy Associates, patients are encouraged to increase their pleasant activities as an aide to their emotional regulation. As a means for achieving this goal, it is suggested that people explore opportunities to laugh as often as is possible. Furthermore, incorporating laughter into your daily routine can be a valuable asset in achieving optimal mental health.

To learn more on our DBT Skills Program, The Healing Power of Laughter, or to schedule an appointment, please call our intake specialists today at 201-488-6678 or visit


The Benefits of Laughter

Physical Health Benefits

  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress hormones
  • Decreases pain
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Prevents heart disease
  • Mental Health Benefits
  • Adds joy to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience
  • Social Benefits
  • Strengthens relationships
  • Facilitates connections to others
  • Enhances teamwork
  • Helps defuse conflict
  • Promotes group bonding