Anxiety is allergic to humor

14 Jul

Use of humor

When I was growing up, I didn’t know about anyone who had a peanut allergy, but now if you ask most children they can tell you about someone who has one kind of allergy or another. For reasons that are not completely understood, allergies seem to have become more prevalent. Well, it turns out, as Michael White, a therapist who really developed the idea of personifying worries and other problems, has stated, anxiety has allergies too. Anxiety is allergic to humor. It wants everything to be taken very seriously. So in dealing with anxiety, we can take a cue from Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban

where in their class on the defense against the dark arts, Professor Lupin instructs the class on dealing with boggarts.


“ ‘So, the first question we must ask ourselves is, what is a boggart?’

    Hermione put up her hand.

  ‘It’s a shape-shifter,’ she said. ‘It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most.’”

Professor Lupin goes on to explain:

“‘The charm that repels a boggart is simple, yet it requires force of mind. You see, the thing that really finishes a boggart is laughter. What you need to do is force it to assume a shape that you find amusing’” (p 133-134 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling).


A similar point about the power of laughter in dealing with worries came up in the movie Monsters, Inc. where the monsters power their city by capturing children’s nighttime screams. However, a little girl becomes friends with a good monster and toward the end of the movie when a bad monster tries to scare her, she laughs at him, and in an instant all of his power is taken away.


Of course we never want to laugh or belittle the child for his fears, for that would truly make matters worse. However, we do want to engage your child in trying to transform the worry into something less dangerous, and hopefully disarm it. So we might want your child to draw the worry and change it or turn into something silly, perhaps giving it a diaper or a pink tutu. If we can get your child laughing, we are on our way to taming this worry.
Copyright@Edward H. Plimpton

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