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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 533

The Use of Cynical Humor by Medical Staff: Implications for Professionalism and the Development of Humanistic Qualities in Medicine

The University of British Columbia, University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Correspondence Address:
S Dharamsi
300-5950 University Boulevard, Vancouver, V6T 1Z3
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 21290366

Humor and laughter in medicine has received much attention in the medical literature. The use of humor by medical students, residents and medical personnel is not uncommon. Laughter can be therapeutic, for patients and practitioners alike. However, when inappropriately directed towards patients humor can be seen as unprofessional, disrespectful and dehumanizing. How physicians interpret their day-to-day professional experiences, and when and how they use humor is influenced by the perspective that is taken, the social distance from the event, culture and context. Some argue that social and physical distance makes it more acceptable to laugh and joke about patients, but not everyone agrees. To laugh with and not at others is the appropriate use of humor in medicine. To cry against the suffering of others and the injustice behind that suffering and not with them in their agony and frustration is the appropriate response to tragedy.

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