Though the common adage suggesting that it’s good to be able to laugh at oneself may hold a fair amount of truth in terms of maintaining a healthy self-image and overall well-being, sometimes it can be more difficult to accept or tolerate the laughter of others when directed towards us. Being laughed at is something that everyone is bound to experience from time to time, whether the situation is truly humiliating or is simply a friendly jest between family members. For many people, being laughed at is an occasional fact of life, and it fails to have much if any influence over personal thoughts and feelings. But for others, the thought of being laughed at is equitable with the deepest horrors possible. Gelotophobia, the phobia of being laughed at, is a mental health concern that affects people around the globe and whose precise functioning and clinical presentation have not always been straightforward.
As part of a quest to better understand the differences between a simple aversion to being laughed at and an instance of gelotophobia, a study carried out principally at the University of Zurich, but with international contributors, has recently been concluded. Working with over twenty thousand people via questionnaire, the research team, comprised of staff from over seventy three countries, examined the histories and ideas of those who were averse to being laughed at to a range of degrees. The research was successful in establishing clear differences between those exhibiting gelotophobia and those with a normal level of aversion to being laughed at by others.
The researchers noted that those with gelotophobia are likely to avoid social situations in which they may feel threatened by the possibility of self-directed laughter, a behavior that is likely to have negative effects on social and personal well-being and relationships. The study is available for review in the latest issue of the journal Humor.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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