Death from laughter

"Die laughing" redirects here. For other uses, see Die laughing (disambiguation).
Chrysippus allegedly died of laughter.
Der Tod des Dichters Pietro Aretino by Anselm Feuerbach.

Death from laughter is a rare form of death, usually resulting from cardiac arrest or asphyxiation, caused by a fit of laughter. Instances of death by laughter have been recorded from the times of ancient Greece to the modern day.


Death may result from several pathologies that deviate from benign laughter. Infarction of the pons and medulla oblongata in the brain may cause pathological laughter.[1]

Laughter can cause atonia and collapse ("gelastic syncope"),[2][3][4][5] which in turn can cause trauma. See also laughter-induced syncope, cataplexy, and Bezold-Jarisch reflex. Gelastic seizures can be due to focal lesions to the hypothalamus.[6] Depending upon the size of the lesion, the emotional lability may be a sign of an acute condition, and not itself the cause of the fatality. Gelastic syncope has also been associated with the cerebellum.[7]

Historical deaths attributed to laughter

Fictional deaths attributed to laughter

See also


  1. Gondim FA, Parks BJ, Cruz-Flores S (December 2001). "'Fou rire prodromique' as the presentation of pontine ischaemia secondary to vertebrobasilar stenosis". J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 71 (6): 802–804. doi:10.1136/jnnp.71.6.802. PMC 1737630Freely accessible. PMID 11723208.
  2. Reiss AL, Hoeft F, Tenforde AS, Chen W, Mobbs D, Mignot EJ (2008). Greene E, ed. "Anomalous hypothalamic responses to humor in cataplexy". PLoS ONE. 3 (5): e2225. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002225. PMC 2377337Freely accessible. PMID 18493621.
  3. Nishida K, Hirota SK, Tokeshi J (2008). "Laugh syncope as a rare sub-type of the situational syncopes: a case report". J Med Case Reports. 2 (1): 197. doi:10.1186/1752-1947-2-197. PMC 2440757Freely accessible. PMID 18538031.
  4. Totah AR, Benbadis SR (January 2002). "Gelastic syncope mistaken for cataplexy". Sleep Med. 3 (1): 77–8. doi:10.1016/S1389-9457(01)00113-7. PMID 14592259.
  5. Lo R, Cohen TJ (November 2007). "Laughter-induced syncope: no laughing matter". Am. J. Med. 120 (11): e5. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2006.07.019. PMID 17976409.
  6. Cheung CS, Parrent AG, Burneo JG (December 2007). "Gelastic seizures: not always hypothalamic hamartoma". Epileptic Disord. 9 (4): 453–8. doi:10.1684/epd.2007.0139. PMID 18077234.
  7. Famularo G, Corsi FM, Minisola G, De Simone C, Nicotra GC (August 2007). "Cerebellar tumour presenting with pathological laughter and gelastic syncope". Eur. J. Neurol. 14 (8): 940–3. doi:10.1111/j.1468-1331.2007.01784.x. PMID 17662020.
  8. Bark, Julianna (2007–2008). "The Spectacular Self: Jean-Etienne Liotard's Self-Portrait Laughing".
  9. Laertius, Diogenes. Lives, Teachings and Sayings of the Eminent Philosophers, with an English translation by R.D. Hicks (1964-1965). Cambridge, Mass/London: Harvard UP/W. Heinemann Ltd.
  10. Morris, Paul N. (October 2000). "Patronage and Piety: Montserrat and the Royal House of Medieval Catalonia-Aragon" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-04.
  11. Waterfield, Gordon, ed. First Footsteps in East Africa, (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1966) pg. 59 footnote.
  12. Brown, Huntington (1968). Rabelais in English Literature. Routledge. p. 126. ISBN 0-7146-2051-3.
  13. The History of Scottish Poetry. Edmonston & Douglas. 1861. p. 539.
  14. "The Gentleman's Magazine". May 1799.
  15. "10 truly bizarre Victorian deaths". BBC News. 25 December 2013. Retrieved Apr 2, 2015.
  16. "The Last Laugh's on Him". Urban Legends Reference Pages. 2007-01-19. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
  17. Ross, Robert (2000). The Complete Goodies. London: B T Batsford.
  18. "Man Dies Laughing at The Goodies". Daily Mail. London. 29 March 1975.
  19. "A Goodies Way to Go — Laughing". Eastern Daily Press. Norwich. 29 March 1975.
  20. Staveacre, Tony (1987). Slapstick! The Illustrated Story of Knockabout Comedy. Angus & Robinson.
  21. Singh, Anita (21 Jun 2012). "Man who died laughing at Goodies had Long QT syndrome". The Telegraph. Retrieved Apr 2, 2015.
  22. Moyne, translated by Coleman Barks, with Reynold Nicholson, A.J. Arberry, John (2004). The essential Rumi (New expanded ed.). New York, NY: HarperOne. ISBN 0-06-250959-4.
  23. Lord Dunsany, The Three Infernal Jokes in Tales of Wonder (1916)
  24. "The Death of Pecos Bill: A New Mexico Tall Tale retold by S. E. Schlosser". August 2010. Retrieved Apr 2, 2015.
  25. Collodi, Carlo. The Adventures of Pinocchio, Chapter 20

External links

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