I first came across this very useful term in the writings of William Fry, Jr., MD. The distinction he was aware of more than thirty years ago is now finding favor among contemporary theorists of laughter and humor. Some go so far as to conjecture that the physical act of laughter in the absence of the emotional state of mirth, i.e., faked or forced or chemically induced laughter, will not have the same associated positive physiology; will not have the same benefits.Hurely, et al, offer another useful concept in this regard, "...the chemical mismodulation of normal neural responses." (Inside Jokes,(MIT2011) p.128)
According to Wikipedia, in the mid-19th century, positive smiling, something akin to true-mirthful laughter, was first identified by French physician Guillaume Duchenne, while conducting research on the physiology of facial expressions, identified two distinct types of smiles. A Duchenne smile involves contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle (which raises the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi muscle (which raises the cheeks and forms crow's feet around the eyes). A non-Duchenne smile involves only the zygomatic major muscle. “Research with adults initially indicated that joy was indexed by generic smiling, any smiling involving the raising of the lip corners by the zygomatic major…. More recent research suggests that smiling in which the muscle around the eye contracts, raising the cheeks high (Duchenne smiling), is uniquely associated with positive emotion.
"Duchenne laughter" is the name given to stimulus-driven, emotionally valenced; spontaneous. In some research, Duchenne laughter was found to involve orbicularis oculi muscle action, related to self-reports of reduced anger and increased enjoyment, the dissociation of distress, better social relations, and positive responses from strangers, whereas non-Duchenne laughter did not.
Examples of laughter associated with pathology
- Pseudo-bulbar palsy
- Gelastic epilepsy
- Various brain-damage disorders
- Hebephrenic schizophrenia
- Psychotic hallucinations (auditory & visual)
- The “happy” drunk
- Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
- Cannabis- (marijuana) induced giggles
- Manganese poisoning
- It fails the “A.T. & T.” test (is not Appropriate, Timely & Tasteful).
- Uses ridicule, sarcasm, or taboo language.
- Makes unwanted jokes about serious subjects.
- Hostile teasing hides behind “just joking” excuse.