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HUMOR

International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Kuipers, Giselinde / Ford, Thomas E.


IMPACT FACTOR 2015: 0.467
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1613-3722
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The laughter of the 1962 Tanganyika ‘laughter epidemic’

Citation Information: Humor – International Journal of Humor Research. Volume 20, Issue 1, Pages 49–71, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: 10.1515/HUMOR.2007.003, March 2007

Publication History

Published Online:
2007-03-12

Abstract

The present article discusses the role of laughter in the much cited ‘laughter epidemic’ that occurred in Tanganyika in 1962. Despite its extraordinary nature, the veracity of the event is confirmed, crucially on the basis of similar reports. But most current representations are flawed by their exaggeration and misinterpretation of the role of laughter in the event, relating it to a humorous stimulus, a virus or environmental contaminant, or identifying it as contagious laughter. It is argued that the event is a motor-variant case of mass psychogenic illness of which laughter is one common symptom. Therefore it cannot serve as support for other arguments in humor research.

Keywords: Africa; Laughter; laughter epidemic; mass hysteria; mass psychogenic illness; Tanganyika

Citing Articles

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[1]
Yann Auxéméry
Annales Médico-psychologiques, revue psychiatrique, 2012, Volume 170, Number 8, Page 527

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