Speaking Programs

Humor's Role in Tragedy



Humor's Role in Tragedy

Patt Schwab, Ph.D., CSP


In times of tragedy, laughter can heal. . . or hurt.

It can bring people together. . .
or split them into opposing factions.

It facilitates memory in a crises, and when used correctly, it can be a critical survival tool. We are only just beginning to understand the role humor plays in times of tragedy and disaster-and how the level of recovery from a crises is reflected in the humor we use. Indeed, she or he who laughs. . . lasts!

The purpose of this presentation is to acknowledge the special role humor can play in coping with and resolving a tragedy, and how it can be a useful tool for the emergency professional, care giver, or supportive friend to use in monitoring the situation.

Dr. Schwab identifies the four stages of post traumatic humor:

Morbid Humor

Distractive Humor

Power Humor

Connective Humor

She elaborates on the strengths of each and gives hints on how to use them to reach closure on the event.

Note: This presentation emphatically does NOT say that joke
telling is the way to resolve a tragedy. It looks at the use of
situation appropriate humor as one of many indicators of emotional
recovery. Since humor is a skill best developed long before being
thrust into a tragedy, Dr. Schwab emphasizes several ways participants
can increase the humor in their personal and professional lives.


Meeting Planner Notes: This program is an excellent keynote or 90 minute workshop. As a KEYNOTE is can be tailored to include references to your conference program and/or suggestions to promote interactions between conferees. A section discussing a variety of ways to increase the humor in your life without becoming a clown can be used as a BREAKOUT SESSION after a keynote.

This presentation is particularly useful for:
Emergency Management Teams, EMTs, Hospital Emergency Staffs, Neighborhood Preparedness Groups, and patients or survivors of traumatic events or diseases.

Copyright © 2003 Patt Schwab. All rights reserved.