Does the topic of suicide make you laugh uncontrollably?

Over the last few days I have watched two comedians introduce the word or act of suicide into their material….one minute I was hysterically laughing and then in mid-laughter my smile turned sour and I quickly turned the comedian off. The comedian I thought was such a hoot a few seconds before was now an evil entity that stole my short-lived joy in that one single breath.  I ask, “Would these very same people find cancer a funny enough subject to insert into their act?” “Are there not enough subjects in the world that they could make fun of beside the serious disease of depression and mental illness?”

A few weeks ago I decided to make a list of all the movies I knew about that was about suicide or makes mention of it in some way or another….the list was so long, I got tired of writing. I have learned that Hollywood will use suicide for that dramatic element …for shock value…or just because. I recently watched the Showtime series,”The Tudors” (Henry VIII’s reign) …they put in two suicides even though it was inaccurate according to history. Shock at whatever cost is Hollywood’s motto. There are no boundaries and there are no standards…everything is free game.

My son, Brandon, was an avid movie fan. He always wanted to be a scriptwriter and make films. He made his own short films with our video camera. His talents were many. He had a keen sense of humor…a dark kind of humor that not many understood except his close friends. In fact, at the memorial, one of his close childhood friends made mention of their dark humor that most people “did not get.”  In my possession are countless “comics” and stories that illustrate his uniqueness. I want so much to share some of them but at the same time am cautious of an audience that might critique and over analyze. I have been prone to do this myself, but then I can because I am his mother. Below is one of my favorite drawings by Brandon from about 15 yrs ago and a collage that I created of him doing what he loved best …to create and write. Image  Image

Below is an article I recently came across about the psychosis of some comedians. I believe they are on to something but I can hardly laugh about it. “There but for the grace of God go I”…or my son.

Comedians likely to have psychotic personality traits

Published January 16, 2014

Having an unusual personality structure could be the secret to making other people laugh, scientists said on Thursday after research showed that comedians have high levels of psychotic personality traits.

In a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers analyzed comedians from Australia, Britain and the United States and found they scored significantly higher on four types of psychotic characteristics compared to a control group of people who had non-creative jobs.

The traits included a tendency towards impulsive or anti-social behavior, and a tendency to avoid intimacy.

“The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis – both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” said Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford’s department of experimental psychology, who led the study.

Although the traits in question are known as “psychotic”, Claridge said, they can also represent healthy equivalents of features such as moodiness, social introversion and the tendency to lateral thinking.

“Although schizophrenic psychosis itself can be detrimental to humor, in its lesser form it can increase people’s ability to associate odd or unusual things or to think ‘outside the box’,” he said.

“Equally, manic thinking – which is common in people with bipolar disorder – may help people combine ideas to form new, original and humorous connections.”

The researchers recruited 523 comedians – 404 men and 119 women – and asked them to complete an online questionnaire designed to measure psychotic traits in healthy people.

The traits scored were “unusual experiences”, such as belief in telepathy and paranormal events, “cognitive disorganization” such as difficulty in focusing thoughts, “introvertive anhedonia” – reduced ability to feel social and physical pleasure, and “impulsive non-conformity”, or tendency towards impulsive, antisocial behavior.

The same questionnaire was also completed by 364 actors – who are also used to performing in front of an audience – as a control group, and the comedians’ and actors’ results were compared to each other as well as a general group of 831 people who had non-creative jobs.

The researchers found that comedians scored significantly higher on all four types of psychotic personality traits compared to the general group. Most striking were their high scores for impulsive non-conformity and introverted personality traits, the researchers said.

The actors scored higher than the general group on three types – but did not display high levels of introverted personality traits.


9 thoughts on “Does the topic of suicide make you laugh uncontrollably?

  1. Movies and tv are attempting manipulating our thoughts – and the SHOCK factor has been used so much that these WRONGS have become RIGHT in some individuals minds. So sad what it us doing to our children…

    I can’t even imagine how any suicide situation could in any way be a part of a comedy routine. How insensitive..

    I understand your feeling of vulnerability about sharing Brandon’s creativity. Not to worry Dale – he was quite gifted and I know you are proud of his talent. As his mom, carry that with you and rejoice in it – even if it means opening up a bit and sharing!

    • Thank you, Terri. Somehow the act of suicide can tempt those who are so very vulnerable, thus that brings on what they call “copy cat suicides.” I do believe there are too many negatives that influence in all the wrong ways, especially in the minds of children whose brains are not completed to maturity, yet.

      I know I will share more of Brandon’s art as time wears on. xoxo dale

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