Laughing as a defense mechanism

It is my understanding that the reason we laugh when presented with an unlikely situation is to reassure ourselves that we are not really in danger. When I’m watching Real-TV type shows and LMAO at the skateboarder who just took what appeared to be a painful digger I can’t help but think that my reaction is nothing more than my body saying “hey, don’t worry pal, this isn’t actually happening to you.” Am I really just venting my anxiety as an involuntary exhalation through the temporary loss of diaphragm control?

My second question is about a thought which occurred to me while I was watching a similar show with equally hilarious mishaps caught on tape. The video was of a woman skiing with a dog on a leash (running along side her). Inevitably, she wiped out and began dragging the pooch along with her, laughing heartily the entire time she was falling. Niether herself of the dog were in any grave danger, but the dog rolled quite a few time and was clearly not in control of its fall for a fairly long mooment. I was wondering, does the dog illicit any type of behavior similar to laughing to reassure itself in strange situations? Do any other animals besides humans “laugh” at the hilarity of their escapades? BTW, my roommate completely disagrees with my take on laughter, so please correct me if I’m wrong in my assumptions. LOL

Well the long and the short answer to your question is ‘YES’ laughter an be a significant defense mechanism. However, be very careful with what situation you espouse to it. If you are say the dumpee from a relation ship and you laugh it off, that can be very detrimental to you. But if you are watching real TV and see a guy on Rollerblades, smack his crotch on a railing whislt trying a rail-slide and then you laugh…that is probably not too bad.

I do not have a lot of time, but laughter as a defense mechanism, can be ok, but must be slightly scrutinized, depending on the situation…

Of course cats can’t laugh (even though Abraham Lincoln is credited with making one do so), but when a cat makes an ass of itself it stops whatever it’s doing and grooms.

Grooming or laughter, it seems that the reaction is to organize the stressfull situation into a context that we can deal with.

There’s also a cultural factor. In Paul Theroux’s travel books, whenever he asks a Chinese person a question that puts them on the spot, they just laugh at him.

Yeah my boyfriend laughs every time I get really angry with him. Drives me nuts but I think it is a subconscious response to “Oh crap - this is going to be ugly”

Laughter evolves from pretty ancient behaviors. There is a decent article in the April Discover, not yet online, on laughter (and tickling) and its possible origins, and similarities in the animal world.

Chimpanzees definitely laugh.

Re: mipiace’s comment: That’s where laughing-for-defense can be harmful-- when it confuses your emotional interaction with other people. It might not be so bad when you’re watching TV, but laughing in someone’s face when they say something serious can really kill a relationship. Or can be the cause of someone’s ‘bad luck’ with staying in relationships. :rolleyes:

I thought it was a means of taking detrimental activities or attributes, and making them unserious. Laughing at people who threaten the status quo prevents anything detrimental to the status quo from being taken seriously.

If that were true, then continuing to act abnormally and coming across as an equal would eventually lead to rage, which it sometimes does.

So perhaps laughter is just the first line of defense, anger is the second.

And occaisionally can immediately proceed castration…:stuck_out_tongue: