The Best Medicine Edward Hospital's Own Patch Adams Uses 'Humor Therapy' to Treat Patients

By Labunski, Carla | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 6, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Best Medicine Edward Hospital's Own Patch Adams Uses 'Humor Therapy' to Treat Patients


Labunski, Carla, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Carla Labunski Daily Herald Staff Writer

Dave McElligott had to go see "Patch Adams" because he knew everyone was going to ask him what he thought of it.

After all, the pulmonary specialist is Edward Hospital's very own version of Robin Williams.

He doesn't wear red rubber balls on his nose or dunk patients in giant bowls of spaghetti, but McElligott is responsible for making people laugh every day. He's the founder of the Naperville hospital's Ellen McElligott Humor Therapy Program, which provides funny movies, books and games to seriously ill patients.

"Humor therapy per se is a form of alternative medicine," McElligott said.

The idea has been around for decades, but it's a hot topic now because of the Robin Williams movie, which has grossed almost $120 million in six weeks.

Unlike Patch Adams, McElligott says, the health-care providers who work with the program at Edward are grounded in traditional medical treatments. Laughter doesn't replace medicine in the program - it complements it.

And research suggests laughter may have a very real complementary role in healing.

"Research has mostly been done on healthy subjects, measuring hormonal and stress effects," McElligott said.

Laughter lowers stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and researchers now think laughter increases the number of "natural killer cells," the cells that fight infection and destroy abnormal cells that can be precursors of diseases such as cancer.

"I do think the data is there to say that people who laugh, who are able to maintain a sense of humor in the face of illness, will have less pain and require less pain medication," McElligott said. "Although the data is still soft, we think they may heal a little more quickly. And we like to believe, although the proof is not there, that humor has some curative powers."

Serious research to determine whether laughter really is the best medicine began after the 1979 publication of "Anatomy of an Illness" by Norman Cousins, a magazine editor who became critically ill after returning home from a trip to Russia.

In intense pain, with lethally high blood sedimentation rates, Cousins gave up on traditional attempts to treat his puzzling illness and began treating himself with massive doses of vitamins.

Cousins also spent his hours in bed watching old comedy movies, and after weeks of meticulous self-monitoring, realized that 10 minutes of hearty laughter gave him about an hour without pain.

Although Cousins had no background in medicine, he became "quite well-versed in the science of laughter," McElligott said.

After the publication of the book, medical practitioners and researchers started to look more closely at the relationship between humor and healing. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Best Medicine Edward Hospital's Own Patch Adams Uses 'Humor Therapy' to Treat Patients
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.