by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
While confronting our fears, discerning our angers and resentments, or unloading on friends or a therapist may be helpful, there is another school of mental health thought emphasizing distraction and humor. Carol Tavris says one of the best antidotes to the kind of anger that sticks in one’s craw is to see a funny movie–explained in further detail in her bestseller Anger. Norman Cousins, when confronting an incapacitating illness, retreated to a hotel room where he watched 8 millimeter movies including Laurel and Hardy. (He did this before there were videos, DVDs, or Netflix.) The Boston Globe gives us a list of 50 of the funniest movies of all time. Here are ten of them, in random order:
1. Vacation (1983): a family trip gone haywire.
2. Old School (2003): frat leaders who are middle-aged indulge in sophomoric behaviors
3. Nutty Professor (1963): Jerry Lewis classic.
4. 40-year-old Virgin (2005): “I respect women! I love women! I respect them so much I completely stay away from them!”
5. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997): Mike Myers and his wonderful one-liners.
6. Billy Madison (1998): “Of course I peed my pants–everyone my age peed their pants. It’s the coolest!”
7. Ground Hog Day (1993): Over and over again…
8. Adam’s Rib (1949): Hepburn and Tracy
9. M*A*S*H* (1970): “This isn’t a hospital. It’s an insane asylum. And it’s your fault!”
10. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987): Steve Martin and John Candy go cross-country.
If you need a temporary distraction, one of these movies might give you a needed uplift.