A smile or a laugh can really brighten our day; smiles tend to warm us through and through. That is why the Comedy Channel and many sitcoms on television are so successful. They help the general populous to deal with life as it comes. But at what expense are the rest of us entertained and do parents need to be on the lookout if their child is constantly goofing off and joking about life?
What psychologists have known for quite a while is now rearing its ugly face all over the news lines today after comedian/actor Robin Williams took his own life on Monday, August 11th. One statement that has been publicized is that ‘High levels of psychotic personality traits are behind the ‘sad clown’ façade of comedians like Robin Williams.’
Experts realized quite long ago that painters and playwrights that have such unique talents also have extreme mental illness. Experts have also linked the ability to create laughter with such personality traits as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and manic-depression. What researchers from Oxford University and Bershire Healthcar NHS Foundation Trust have discovered is that ‘manic thinking helps join together ridiculous ideas that spark humor.’
Where the comedians and stand-up artists today are what Americans crave, the poor souls delivering the humor have greater levels of extraversion (impulsiveness) but are more depressed and unsociable even while delivering the humor.
A Case that was presented this morning in the Sage Journals – Journals of Adolescent Research is that humor is used as a coping skill. Many times adolescents will mask emotional issues that they are having with a joke or antic that tends to draw people to them because they want to laugh more. But what is this doing to the deliverer?
It seems as though the people tested all show the same or similar signs and symptoms of depression – and the signs and symptoms may come out as early as youth. During the study presented in the Sage Journals, this testimonial was given: ‘Assessment of humor included measures of humor appreciation, humor creativity, and humor coping. Professional comedians rated humor creativity. Depression was assessed with self-report measures of depressed mood, self-esteem, and hopelessness. Results indicated that humor can be measured reliably and that humor and depression are related. Specifically, using humor to cope with emotional difficulties was related to depression more than was the ability to appreciate or create humorous material. Although the adolescent inpatients reported more emotional distress than did the high school participants, the two groups did not differ on the humor measures.’
If your child displays everything as a joke, you may want to get them the required help that they need. This type of depression is beyond the scope of sitting down with your child, having ice cream and asking them what is wrong or how you can help.
If the funny men and women, like Robin Williams, could have been extended the courtesy of outside help when they were younger, we may still have this great performer with us today. Although it is difficult to imagine your child living in the wake of this type of devastation, they may just be. Don’t you want to prevent the worst from happening?
It’s okay to laugh at the joke, but help the jokester to unlock their hidden emotions so as to ease their pain.