Laugh Your Way To Good Health
Some 400 clowns and doctors skilled at clowning took part in
an international conference in Buenos Aires to present scientific
evidence, backed by their own experience, to show why laughter
The third International Congress of Hospital Clowns, which was
held Nov 7-8 in the Argentine capital, brought together artists
and health professionals from around the world who combine humour
with health care, the Spanish news agency EFE reported.
"All over the world there are doctors who work with the
art. Some put on clown noses and some don't. But in almost all
regions, in Europe, the United States and Latin America, there
are hospital clowns at work," said Argentina's Jose Pellucchi,
artistic director of Payamedicos (Doctor-Clowns).
The organization has some 500 members, mostly doctors, specially
trained in how to clown around with hospitalized patients to help
them get better.
In European countries and the US, for example, there is a growing
trend in medical centres to hire professionals with this comedic-therapeutic
According to Pellucchi, using the clown's art in health care
goes back to ancient Greece, where people with manic episodes
were taken to see theatrical dramas, while those suffering depression
were treated to comedies.
"There are pictures from the beginning of the 20th century
that show the presence of clowns in hospitals. But the technique
got a big boost from the movie "Patch Adams", the doctor
In the 1998 film Robin Williams plays Patch Adams, a US doctor
who promoted "laugh therapy" and was responsible for
making the technique a part of modern medicine.
Among other positive effects, Pellucchi said that his organization
has studies showing that, after doctor-clown treatment, patients'
blood pressure drops by 13 percent.
Among the lecturers at the congress was Argentina's Alejandro
Gruber, who for years has worked in Israel where he founded a
company of hospital clowns as part of a project that also encourages
integration, since Palestinian and Israeli patients who are admitted
share the same rooms.
Also taking part in the Buenos Aires meeting was the group of
"Clowns No Perecederos" (Non-perishable Clowns), made
up of 50 artists, an organization founded during Argentina's severe
economic crisis of 2001-2002.
"People felt guilty about laughing and also, because of
the severity of the crisis, they couldn't go to shows because
they had no money. That's when we decided to put on shows where
the price of a ticket would be some non-perishable food item that
would be donated to children's dining rooms. That way people could
laugh guilt-free," Cristina Marti, founder of Non-perishable
Clowns, told EFE.
The artist, who trains clowns, said that "getting laughs,
causing pleasure is very healthy", but added that there are
significant differences between ordinary clowns and hospital clowns.
"There are a lot of things a hospital clown cannot say or
do, while an ordinary clown is allowed to do whatever he comes
up with. He doesn't have so many things to be careful about as
he would in front of a patient in a precarious state of health,"
Reference Source 202
November 10, 2009