Faint laughter – a new study

A new medical study called Recurrent Laughter-induced Syncope documents the existence of a paradoxical malady. Prior to reading the report, physicians might assume the phenomenon to be nothing more than a joke. A joke, they will learn, is just the beginning of the problem.

The two authors, Drs Athanasios Gaitatzis and Axel Petzold [pictured here], describe their case in simple, albeit technical, prose: “A healthy 42-year-old male patient presented to the neurology clinic with a long history of faints triggered by spontaneous laughter, especially after funny jokes … There was no evidence to suggest cardiogenic causes, epilepsy, or cataplexy and a diagnosis of laughing syncope was made.”

A paper by Gaitatzis, based at the SEIN-Epilepsy Institute in Heemstede, the Netherlands, and Petzold, of the UCL Institute of Neurology in London, appears in the journal Neurology….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

BONUS: the Monty Python sketch with which the new research resonates:

BONUS: A sample of George Costanza, part of the body of work referred to in one of the studies mentioned in one of the studies:

BONUS: In the newspaper piece, I thanked Dr. Erwin Kompanje, the person who told me about the new faint-laughter study. But I mangled the spelling of his name. I emailed him an apologie, and received this reply:

Ala, my name is pronounced and written in many different ways!

Van Kompanje

But Kompanije is new! Thanks Marc (for bringing this to our attention) (-:

dr Erwin J.O. Kompanje
Senior researcher societal and ethical consequences of critical illness
Department of Intensive Care
Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam