Why Do We Laugh When Someone Dies?

Seeing people laugh after hearing the news someone has died is not common, but neither so rare occurrence. “Why?”, is the question many would answer with words like a psychopath, sociopath, evil man or with some other similar term. However, psychological researches prove that sometimes the cause for such reactions can be completely opposite.

Creating Distance From Harsh Reality

One of the reasons people will smile or have a burst of laugh after hearing that someone has died is the consequence of their subconscious programmed to amortize strong impacts that come from the outside. Anxiety is one of the causes for this to happen and it is very present when it comes to funerals.

The Laughing Brain: A Hierarchy of Humor by Mental and Neural Levels

Why People Laugh During Funerals?

You have probably heard, witnessed, or, against all effort invested to prevent your-self from laughing, been the person that tittered while participating in the final farewell with the deceased. Mass judgment is what ensues as many people, despite sometimes having the same urges, harshly criticize the one to manifest such a behavior. Yet the real state of things deserves no judgment. The ones that laugh are usually those that have the lowest capability of coping with the mare concept of death. Witnessing the scene of the casket being lowered into the hole and covered by dirt invokes the strong feeling of anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling of worry, nervousness or unease regarding inevitable or highly uncertain outcomes. Explained in a shorter manner, anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. To some degree, this phenomenon is completely normal. However, when exceeding the limits it can lead to strong disorders. One of them is known as social anxiety.

Social Anxiety

By formal definition, social anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that causes extreme fear in social settings. Social gatherings are vast challenges for those suffering from this condition and the possible scrutiny they may encounter is their greatest fear. It is exactly this that explains why do people laugh when participating in funerals.

Is Social Anxiety Responsible For People Laughing During Funerals?

Only to some degree. We all have a certain degree of anxieties which can’t be called conditions as they are not constantly present. However, sometimes, we may encounter their symptoms like it is the case with funerals. People are forced to cope with the manifest of death which is the inevitable outcome of life. We are all going to die someday and there is hardly anything we can do about it. In the case of some individuals, during the confrontation with the finality of our nature, fears emerge. Those apprehensions may be so strong that our subconscious deepest psychological defense mechanisms are invoked to protect us. They do it by triggering parts of our brain responsible for the creation of the feelings exactly the opposite from ones that are overflowing us. It is why laughter takes place. Now, the sparkles of social anxiety take their part. The fear of being judged and rejected emerges and as we attempt to force ourselves to remain calm and stop laughing, the defense mechanisms, confronted with the intrusion of another enemy (a symptom of social anxiety) continue with the production of laughter.

Mysteries of Psychology

There are many brain mysteries regarding laughing and causes that trigger it. It is important to understand that it is one of the instinctive behavioral patterns which comes spontaneously. Spontaneousness can’t be controlled while behaviors featured by it can have many both known and unknown triggers.

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