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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Exposing FUSH: A Dark and Humorous Secret

I am writing this today to call attention to a malady that afflicts a percentage of the population, but is seldom discussed seriously. I have suffered this affliction for most of my life and for a good part of it was unaware.

For years I just thought that I was "different", that something was wrong with me. Sometimes when I said something that I thought was funny, or laughed at some situation that I thought was funny, some person would say, "That's not funny!" It would sting and I would withdraw to figure out why this person would say such a thing to me, especially when it happened in front of people. Why would a person elect to take such a lofty position to berate me and embarrass me?

After years of suffering in silence, I learned that I was not alone. There were other people out there who suffered from a Fucked Up Sense of Humor (FUSH), and they too were suffering. Sometimes I would hear a FUSH sufferer say something in public and listen as they were lambasted by some indignant person. In a show of solidarity I started smiling and giving my fellow FUSH sufferer a nod and a smile; then later, when my confidence grew, I would laugh out loud to show them that I too suffer from FUSH and they didn't have to be alone.

A sense of humor is something that is involuntary, if you try to stifle your laughter you could possibly cause significant damage to your body. You may rupture an internal seal and start to leak, or snort loudly. Trying to block laughter is not a healthy option. Besides, laughter itself has its benefits.

In an abstract authored by the Department of Social and Environmental Medicine, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan and published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, they discuss the effects that humor can have on the human physiology. In particular, on people who suffer from an inordinate amount of stress and anxiety.

"We investigated the effect of laughter on salivary endocrinological stress marker chromogranin A (CgA). In saliva samples collected from 11 healthy males before and after watching a comic film or a non-humorous control film, salivary CgA levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Samples taken after watching the comic film showed increased levels of CgA. This tendency was more pronounced in individuals with lower initial levels of stress. The control samples showed no significant change in CgA levels. Stress score, subjectively evaluated using a visual analog scale, decreased significantly after watching the comic film. These findings suggest that, in addition to a stress relief effect, laughter can bring about feeling uplifted or fulfilled."

Growing older can have many negative effects on the body. In another abstract published by NCBI, it is explained that, "With aging, the detrimental effects of stress can impair a person's ability to learn and sustain memory. Humor and its associated mirthful laughter can reduce stress by decreasing the hormone cortisol. Chronic release of cortisol can damage hippocampal neurons, leading to impairment of learning and memory."

Further, Meghan O'Flynn who has a blog site devoted to psychology explains the need for dark humor and inappropriate jokes. She says that "Dark humor may be a type of cognitive behavioral strategy" serving the dual purpose of "exposing individuals to the topics they fear the most along with those super bodily calming effects."

Being a person who is prone to stress and extreme anxiety, I guess my FUSH became a way for me to deal with my discomfort and social anxiety issues. So, we employ an unconscious and involuntary device into conversation in the hopes that other people will also find humor in the things being discussed and join us in laughing, We ease our own discomfort caused by stress and anxiety to a more manageable level. Imagine then, to be blindsided by someone who deflects your humor into a more serious issue that is something that they, themselves want to call attention to, and calls you out for being inappropriate and tells you that you shouldn't find humor in a certain situation, to be shamed and vilified for having FUSH. This only serves to amplify the neurological effects that your stresses and discomfort inflict on you. So, like an addict looking for a stronger drug, you have to find more inappropriate things to engage your FUSH.

A person's need to take over of a situation and bring focus on themselves is something that Joseph Burgo, the author and owner of explains in his article, "Narcissistic Behavior and the Lost Art of Conversation", he explains the need for narcissistic people to subvert a conversation to redirect attention to themselves. For those individuals, their families were so deficient and the expected kind of parental attention so lacking that there’s an unquenchable need to have other people listen and make them feel significant."

In a sad revelation, I fear that FUSH may be hereditary, I think I have passed FUSH to my daughter. But, I will not acquiesce any longer, and I incite my fellow FUSHers to unite and take up arms against the people of the world who would silence you or try to force you to stop reacting to humorous situations wherever you find them. FUSHers unite!

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