Death from laughter

Death from laughter is a rare form of death, usually resulting from cardiac arrest or asphyxiation, caused by a fit of laughter. Instances of death by laughter have been recorded from the times of ancient Greece to the modern day.

Chrysippus of Soli
Chrysippus allegedly died of laughter after witnessing a donkey eating his figs.[1]
La muerte de Pietro Aretino, por Anselm Feuerbach
Der Tod des Dichters Pietro Aretino by Anselm Feuerbach.

Pathophysiology

Death may result from several pathologies that deviate from benign laughter. Infarction of the pons and medulla oblongata in the brain may cause pathological laughter.[2]

Laughter can cause atonia and collapse ("gelastic syncope"),[3][4][5][6] which in turn can cause trauma. See also laughter-induced syncope, cataplexy, and Bezold-Jarisch reflex. Gelastic seizures can be due to focal lesions to the hypothalamus.[7] Depending upon the size of the lesion, the emotional lability may be a sign of an acute condition, and not itself the cause of the fatality. Gelastic syncope has also been associated with the cerebellum.[8]

In popular culture

  • According to Greek mythology, the seer Calchas died after another seer's prediction about his death seemed to turn out incorrect, thus fulfilling the prediction.
  • In the video game Fallout, a gangster named Victor may die from laughter after speaking to a player character whose intelligence statistic is too low.
  • In "The Deadly Experiments of Dr. Eeek", from the Give Yourself Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine, it is possible to get an ending where chimpanzees tickle the protagonist's feet until death of laughter.
  • Ana in the play The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl.
  • Jerry's friend, Fulton, in the Seinfeld episode entitled "The Stand In".
  • In the Batman franchise, famed villain The Joker often kills his victims using a poison that causes uncontrollable and quickly fatal fits of manic laughter – the victim's corpse is often left with a huge ghastly smile reminiscent of the Joker's own. In the 1989 film, a news broadcast reporting a scheme involving this toxin (named "Smilex" in this film) is cut short when one of the reporters begins laughing hysterically, before collapsing dead with the characteristic rictus.
  • At the end of the film Mary Poppins, Mr. Dawes, Sr. is said to have died laughing after being told a joke. Unlike most examples, this is presented as a positive, his son stating that he "had never look so happy in all his life."
  • In the musical and film Little Shop of Horrors, a character asphyxiates on laughing gas and his last words are "I've laughed myself to death".
  • In Episode 12 of Season 1 of 1000 Ways to Die, a man dies after laughing continuously for 36 hours at an unknown joke.
  • In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the heroes cross a "Chasm of Death" filled with gas fumes that induce uncontrollable laughter, frequently killing those who try to cross the chasm.
  • In the Monty Python sketch The Funniest Joke in the World, the British win the Second World War by translating a lethally funny joke into German and transmitting it to German troops and two Gestapo officers.
  • In Coleman Barks' translation of Jelaluddin Rumi's poem "Dying, Laughing", from his collection of poems The Essential Rumi: "He opened like a rose that drops to the ground and died laughing."[9]
  • Twenty-two men in a London club, and all the people in a courtroom, in The Three Infernal Jokes by Lord Dunsany. The joke-teller was immune.[10]
  • Pecos Bill died of laughter upon seeing a "city-slicker" try to swagger into a bar.[11]
  • Shi Eun died from laughter while watching a comedy movie in a theatre in the Korean TV series drama named God's Quiz in its episode 8 of season 1.
  • The Serpent in Carlo Collodi's classical book The Adventures of Pinocchio died of laughter after seeing Pinocchio stuck in the mud.[12]
  • The third installment in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novel series, Life, The Universe and Everything, featured a character named Prak who had been exposed to an extraordinary dose of truth serum, and as a result had recited "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" over an extended period. When he meets Arthur Dent he goes into fits of laughter so severe that they kill him over the course of the next several days.
  • In the 1932 film The Mummy, a young Egyptologist ignores the warning of a curse written on a casket and opens it, within which he finds and transcribes the Scroll of Thoth. After reading it, he restores to life the mummy of Imhotep. The curse upon him, he begins laughing uncontrollably, and is later mentioned to have died laughing "in a straightjacket".
  • In the 2014 film Até que a Sbórnia nos Separe, the man laughing uncontrollably and dies in heart failure during votation of Caos Building.
  • In The Sims 4, if a Sim is "Hysterical" for too long, death is a serious possibility.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Toon Patrol has died from laughing except for Smart Ass (whom Eddie Valiant kicks in the crotch, sending him into the reservoir of Judge Doom's Dip).
  • In Daffy Duck's Quackbusters, J.P. Cubish "died laughing" and left his entire fortune to Daffy Duck.

See also

References

  1. ^ Dilouambaka, Ethel. "This Greek Philosopher Died Laughing at His Own Joke". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  2. ^ Gondim FA, Parks BJ, Cruz-Flores S (December 2001). "'Fou rire prodromique' as the presentation of pontine ischaemia secondary to vertebrobasilar stenosis". J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 71 (6): 802–804. doi:10.1136/jnnp.71.6.802. PMC 1737630. PMID 11723208.
  3. ^ Reiss AL, Hoeft F, Tenforde AS, Chen W, Mobbs D, Mignot EJ (2008). Greene E (ed.). "Anomalous hypothalamic responses to humor in cataplexy". PLoS ONE. 3 (5): e2225. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002225. PMC 2377337. PMID 18493621.
  4. ^ Nishida K, Hirota SK, Tokeshi J (2008). "Laugh syncope as a rare sub-type of the situational syncopes: a case report". J Med Case Reports. 2 (1): 197. doi:10.1186/1752-1947-2-197. PMC 2440757. PMID 18538031.
  5. ^ Totah AR, Benbadis SR (January 2002). "Gelastic syncope mistaken for cataplexy". Sleep Med. 3 (1): 77–8. doi:10.1016/S1389-9457(01)00113-7. PMID 14592259.
  6. ^ Lo R, Cohen TJ (November 2007). "Laughter-induced syncope: no laughing matter". Am. J. Med. 120 (11): e5. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2006.07.019. PMID 17976409.
  7. ^ Cheung CS, Parrent AG, Burneo JG (December 2007). "Gelastic seizures: not always hypothalamic hamartoma". Epileptic Disord. 9 (4): 453–8. doi:10.1684/epd.2007.0139. PMID 18077234.
  8. ^ Famularo G, Corsi FM, Minisola G, De Simone C, Nicotra GC (August 2007). "Cerebellar tumour presenting with pathological laughter and gelastic syncope". Eur. J. Neurol. 14 (8): 940–3. doi:10.1111/j.1468-1331.2007.01784.x. PMID 17662020.
  9. ^ Moyne, translated by Coleman Barks, with Reynold Nicholson, A.J. Arberry, John (2004). The essential Rumi (New expanded ed.). New York, NY: HarperOne. ISBN 0-06-250959-4.
  10. ^ Lord Dunsany, The Three Infernal Jokes in Tales of Wonder (1916)
  11. ^ "The Death of Pecos Bill: A New Mexico Tall Tale retold by S. E. Schlosser". Americanfolklore.net. August 2010. Retrieved Apr 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Collodi, Carlo. The Adventures of Pinocchio, Chapter 20

External links

Algor mortis

Algor mortis (Latin: algor—coldness; mortis—of death), the second stage of death, is the change in body temperature post mortem, until the ambient temperature is matched. This is generally a steady decline, although if the ambient temperature is above the body temperature (such as in a hot desert), the change in temperature will be positive, as the (relatively) cooler body acclimates to the warmer environment. External factors can have a significant influence.

The term was first used by Dowler in 1849. The first published measurements of the intervals of temperature after death were done by Dr John Davey in 1839.

Dead on arrival

Dead on arrival (DOA), also dead in the field and brought in dead (BID), indicates that a patient was found to be already clinically dead upon the arrival of professional medical assistance, often in the form of first responders such as emergency medical technicians, paramedics, or police.

In some jurisdictions, first responders must consult verbally with a physician before officially pronouncing a patient deceased, but once cardiopulmonary resuscitation is initiated, it must be continued until a physician can pronounce the patient dead.

Death messenger

Death messengers, in former times, were those who were dispatched to spread the news that an inhabitant of their city or village had died. They were to wear unadorned black and go door to door with the message, "You are asked to attend the funeral of the departed __________ at (time, date, and place)." This was all they were allowed to say, and were to move on to the next house immediately after uttering the announcement. This tradition persisted in some areas to as late as the mid-19th century.

Death rattle

Terminal respiratory secretions (or simply terminal secretions), known colloquially as a death rattle, are sounds often produced by someone who is near death as a result of fluids such as saliva and bronchial secretions accumulating in the throat and upper chest. Those who are dying may lose their ability to swallow and may have increased production of bronchial secretions, resulting in such an accumulation. Usually, two or three days earlier, the symptoms of approaching death can be observed as saliva accumulates in the throat, making it very difficult to take even a spoonful of water. Related symptoms can include shortness of breath and rapid chest movement. While death rattle is a strong indication that someone is near death, it can also be produced by other problems that cause interference with the swallowing reflex, such as brain injuries.It is sometimes misinterpreted as the sound of the person choking to death, or alternatively, that they are gargling.

Dignified death

Dignified death is a somewhat elusive concept often related to suicide. One factor that has been cited as a core component of dignified death is maintaining a sense of control. Another view is that a truly dignified death is an extension of a dignified life. There is some concern that assisted suicide does not guarantee a dignified death, since some patients may experience complications such as nausea and vomiting. There is some concern that age discrimination denies the elderly a dignified death.

Dysthanasia

In medicine, dysthanasia means "bad death" and is considered a common fault of modern medicine.Dysthanasia occurs when a person who is dying has their biological life extended through technological means without regard to the person's quality of life. Technologies such as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, artificial ventilation, ventricular assist devices, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation can extend the dying process.

Dysthanasia is a term generally used when a person is seen to be kept alive artificially in a condition where, otherwise, they cannot survive; sometimes for some sort of ulterior motive. The term was used frequently in the investigation into the death of Formula One driver Ayrton Senna in 1994.

Fan death

Fan death is a well-known superstition in Korean culture, where it is thought that running an electric fan in a closed room with unopened or no windows will prove fatal. Despite no concrete evidence to support the concept, belief in fan death persists to this day in Korea, and also to a lesser extent in Japan.

Funeral director

A funeral director, also known as an undertaker (British English) or mortician (American English), is a professional involved in the business of funeral rites. These tasks often entail the embalming and burial or cremation of the dead, as well as the arrangements for the funeral ceremony (although not the directing and conducting of the funeral itself unless clergy are not present). Funeral directors may at times be asked to perform tasks such as dressing (in garments usually suitable for daily wear), casketing (placing the human body in the coffin), and cossetting (applying any sort of cosmetic or substance to the best viewable areas of the corpse for the purpose of enhancing its appearance). A funeral director may work at a funeral home or be an independent employee.

Hysteria

Hysteria colloquially means ungovernable emotional excess. Generally, modern medical professionals have abandoned using the term "hysteria" to denote a diagnostic category, replacing it with more precisely defined categories, such as somatization disorder. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association officially changed the diagnosis of "hysterical neurosis, conversion type" to "conversion disorder".

Lazarus sign

The Lazarus sign or Lazarus reflex is a reflex movement in brain-dead or brainstem failure patients, which causes them to briefly raise their arms and drop them crossed on their chests (in a position similar to some Egyptian mummies). The phenomenon is named after the Biblical figure Lazarus of Bethany, whom Jesus raised from the dead in the Gospel of John.

Megadeath

Megadeath (or megacorpse) is one million human deaths, usually caused by a nuclear explosion. The term was used by scientists and thinkers who strategized likely outcomes of all-out nuclear warfare.

Necronym

A necronym (from the Greek words νεκρός, nekros, "dead" and ὄνομα ónoma, "name") is a reference to, or name of, a person who has died. Many cultures have taboos and traditions associated with referring to such a person. These vary from the extreme of never again speaking the person's real name, often using some circumlocution instead, to the opposite extreme of commemorating it incessantly by naming other things or people after the deceased.

For instance, in some cultures it is common for a newborn child to receive the name (a necronym) of a relative who has recently died, while in others to reuse such a name would be considered extremely inappropriate or even forbidden. While this varies from culture to culture, the use of necronyms is quite common.

Necrophobia

Necrophobia is a specific phobia which is the irrational fear of dead things (e.g., corpses) as well as things associated with death (e.g., coffins, tombstones, funerals, cemeteries). With all types of emotions, obsession with death becomes evident in both fascination and objectification. In a cultural sense, necrophobia may also be used to mean a fear of the dead by a cultural group, e.g., a belief that the spirits of the dead will return to haunt the living.Symptoms include: shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, dry mouth and shaking, feeling sick and uneasy, psychological instability, and an altogether feeling of dread and trepidation. The sufferer may feel this phobia all the time. The sufferer may also experience this sensation when something triggers the fear, like a close encounter with a dead animal or the funeral of a loved one or friend. The fear may have developed when a person witnessed a death, or was forced to attend a funeral as a child. Some people experience this after viewing frightening media.The fear can manifest itself as a serious condition. Treatment options include medication and therapy.The word necrophobia is derived from the Greek nekros (νεκρός) for "corpse" and the Greek phobos (φόβος) for "fear".

Obituary

An obituary (obit for short) is a news article that reports the recent death of a person, typically along with an account of the person's life and information about the upcoming funeral. In large cities and larger newspapers, obituaries are written only for people considered significant. In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.

Two types of paid advertisements are related to obituaries. One, known as a death notice, omits most biographical details and may be a legally required public notice under some circumstances. The other type, a paid memorial advertisement, is usually written by family members or friends, perhaps with assistance from a funeral home. Both types of paid advertisements are usually run as classified advertisements.

Pallor mortis

Pallor mortis (Latin: pallor "paleness", mortis "of death"), the first stage of death, is an after-death paleness that occurs in those with light/white skin.

Paradoxical laughter

Paradoxical laughter is an exaggerated expression of humour which is unwarranted by external events. It may be uncontrollable laughter which may be recognised as inappropriate by the person involved. It is associated with altered mental states or mental illness, such as mania, hypomania or schizophrenia, and can have other causes.Paradoxical laughter is indicative of an unstable mood, often caused by the pseudobulbar affect, which can quickly change to anger and back again, on minor external cues.

This type of laughter can also occur at times when the fight-or-flight response may otherwise be evoked.

Post-mortem interval

Post-mortem interval (PMI) is the time that has elapsed since a person has died. If the time in question is not known, a number of medical/scientific techniques are used to determine it. This also can refer to the stage of decomposition of the body.

Rigor mortis

Rigor mortis (Latin: rigor "stiffness", mortis "of death"), or postmortem rigidity, is the third stage of death. It is one of the recognizable signs of death, characterized by stiffening of the limbs of the corpse caused by chemical changes in the muscles postmortem. In humans, rigor mortis can occur as soon as four hours after death.

Skeletonization

Skeletonization refers to the final stage of decomposition, during which the last vestiges of the soft tissues of a corpse or carcass have decayed or dried to the point that the skeleton is exposed. By the end of the skeletonization process, all soft tissue will have been eliminated, leaving only disarticulated bones. In a temperate climate, it usually requires three weeks to several years for a body to completely decompose into a skeleton, depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, presence of insects, and submergence in a substrate such as water. In tropical climates, skeletonization can occur in weeks, while in tundra areas, skeletonization may take years or may never occur, if subzero temperatures persist. Natural embalming processes in peat bogs or salt deserts can delay the process indefinitely, sometimes resulting in natural mummification.The rate of skeletonization and the present condition of a corpse or carcass can be used to determine the time of death.After skeletonization, if scavenging animals do not destroy or remove the bones, acids in many fertile soils take about 20 years to completely dissolve the skeleton of mid- to large-size mammals, such as humans, leaving no trace of the organism. In neutral-pH soil or sand, the skeleton can persist for hundreds of years before it finally disintegrates. Alternately, especially in very fine, dry, salty, anoxic, or mildly alkaline soils, bones may undergo fossilization, converting into minerals that may persist indefinitely.

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