Brief History of Therapeutic Laughter

Norman Cousins, editor of the New York Evening Post and the Saturday Review, helped launch the laughter therapy movement in the United States with the publication in 1976 in the New England Journal of Medicine describing a self-healing experience that happened to him back in 1964, which he attributes to laughter and high does of vitamin C. In 1979, he later published a book Anatomy of an illness: as perceived by the patient. His account reportedly piqued interest and led to subsequent scientific studies into the health benefits of laughter.

Dr. William Fry, a psychiatrist and professor emeritus from the Stanford University School of Medicine. He is a pioneer in the field of humor research and is connected to the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor

Dr. Lee Berk, a professor and researcher at Loma Linda University has proven a lot of the scientifically proven benefits of laughter such as the release of endorphins and the boosting of the immune system. 

Hunter "Patch" Adams, M.D. is a physician, activist and clown. He founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1972 and is famous for bringing humor, laughter and interpersonal connection to western medicine. Each year he organizes a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries where they dress as clowns in an effort to bring humor to orphans, patients and other people. He was made famous by the 1998 film about his life starring Robin Williams.

Dr. Madan Kataria, medical doctor and the founder of Laughter Yoga International began the laughter yoga movement in 1995, after researching to write and article about the cliche that 'laughter is the best medicine'. After looking at the research he decided it was true and started a Laughter Club in his local park in India. It has now become a global movement for health and world peace.


Steve Wilson, a psychologist and the founder of World Laughter Tour promotes the benefits of laughter and humor around the country with his Laughter Leader training and Laughter Clubs. He even helped bring Dr. Kataria to the United States.