There is a tough problem with humor

The magazine for medical professionals

Everyone likes to laugh. But is it also appropriate to laugh in the general practice, where serious issues are often at stake? Absolutely. Because there is actually a lot of evidence that laughter is the best medicine.

Much better than a good will, a good pill works sometimes. This sentence by Wilhelm Busch has almost become a guideline in modern medicine. Gelotology tries to prove that it can also work without the risks and side effects associated with the pills. This is - no joke - the science of laughter. In medical terms, one speaks more of psychoneuroimmunology (see box).

Those who laugh and smile a lot are usually satisfied with themselves and those who are satisfied with themselves have more reason to laugh. And is socially more successful. People with a sense of humor often find the job easier, they spread a better mood in a group and are usually more successful at work as a result. Curmudgeons, on the other hand, have a hard time and are often less successful than happy people, even with objectively good qualifications. This positive cycle works even with serious illnesses: a supposedly hard fate is easier to endure if you don't hang your head and instead can laugh from time to time.


Psychoneuroimmunology is an interdisciplinary research area that deals with the interaction of the psyche, the nervous system and the immune system. The neighboring field of psychoneuroendocrinology also includes the interactions of the endocrine system. The basis is the knowledge that messenger substances of the nervous system act on the immune system and messenger substances of the immune system on the nervous system. The interfaces of the control circuits are the brain with the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands and the immune cells. Laughter and cheerfulness can have a direct influence on a person's health via these control loops.

Through research on the clown

These research results have led to the establishment of so-called clown doctors who, after consultation with the doctors, listen to the patients' problems and worries in clinics and then comment on them in a humorous way. The aim is to make patients laugh and thus contribute to their faster recovery. In Germany, Dr. Eckhart von Hirschhausen (The liver grows with its tasks) made this type of therapy popular with jokes; for example: If a doctor calls the patient and says: I have two bad news for you. The first: you only have two days to live. The second: I didn't get in touch with you yesterday.

Laughter can clear up difficult situations with patients, but it can also be very helpful within the practice team. Because laughter is the healthiest valve to let out pent-up aggression. Laughter reduces, among other things. the production of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Instead of folding up your colleague when something has gone wrong, a little joke often helps - and the general mood is much more relaxed. Incidentally, children laugh or smile much more often than adults, an average of 400 times a day, while adults seem to be more and more tired of laughing: they only laugh an average of 15 times a day.

So don't forget to laugh - especially in the doctor's office, where a lot of jokes are played. For example this one from Eckart von Hirschhausen: The patient says to the doctor: Doctor, I am always overlooked. Then the doctor: Next, please!

Action humor helps heal

For every doctor's rating submitted in the AOK's doctor's navigator and in the BARMER GEK's doctor's navigation system, until the end of the year, 1 Euro goes to the Foundation Humor helps heal by Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen. In this way, the users of the portals support other patients in their search for a suitable doctor through their ratings, give the doctors and practice teams feedback and help the Hirschhausen Foundation. For the evaluation go to: