There is a proverb that read, “A merry heart is like good medicine.” The idea is that laughter can actually help a person feel better about their circumstances and helps lighten a depressed mood. They also say a smile is better shared, and many reports indicate that laughter is, in fact, helpful to your overall physical health. However, there are those who find laughter to be a circumstance they find fearful. The fear is known as Geliophobia.
The simply act of laughter that some find beneficial to their health and well-being can incite fear in others who negatively respond to the laughter for a variety of reasons.
What Causes Geliophobia?
Perhaps one of the biggest causes for the fear of laughter is that laughter is an audible reminder of a painful memory of ridicule; wear pants that are too short and the laughter would come, have a name that can be twisted to poke fun and the laughter would come, have a physical flaw that is noticed and the laughter would come.
Many who fear laughter can only view the laughing as a reminder of personal flaws. To many geliophobes laughter is synonymous with ridicule. Even laughter at another table when dining out can be construed to mean that others in the restaurant are laughing at some real or imagined deficit in character or personality.
This fear can also be the result of observing it in a trusted loved one or friend. Whenever we see fear played out in the lives of someone we trust it becomes much easier for us to accept that holding fear tightly is normal. We might even come to believe it is healthy and appropriate.
What are the Symptoms of Geliophobia?
One of the key symptoms of Geliophobia is an emotional response to the act of laughter in another. Life becomes intensely serious and laughter is always equated with a personal attack. The phobic personality can become angry if a close friend laughs because they believe it may jeopardize their friendship. These individuals may struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem.
Other symptoms may also include…
- Elevated heart rate
- Air hunger
- Panic attacks
- Social anxiety
Exposing emotions in public can be hard for anyone, but this is especially true for the geliophobe. They will not be eager to engage in social outings and they will not likely be overly interested in humorous books or movies with a comic theme.
How to Overcome Geliophobia
One of the keys to overcoming this fear is to learn what laughter is and what it is not. It can be easy to assume that all laughter can be equated with negative commentary, but laughter can be a simple expression of joy. Understanding the difference can be helpful in knowing that not all laughter is create equal.
By visiting with a therapist you can learn what issues contribute to your fear of ridicule in the form of laughter. There may be other reasons for why you fear laughter, but this is one of the primary reasons for the fear. Learning why you fear can help you learn how to respond.
The fear of laughter is also referred to as:
- Laughing fear