If you read this blog and get worked up--either about my subjects or my rant style--and need to cool your adrenals, here's something a little different.
Those of us who wonder whether "alternative" modalities will eventually integrate with mainstream medicine need wonder no more after reading the below, from the current issue of the new-age magazine PARADIGM!
Two years ago, James Dancing Rainbow would not have held his current job. In fact, hardly anyone would even have imagined its existence. Rainbow shows funnyvideotapes to hospitalized patients to make them laugh—which is to say help them heal.
Many hospitals now accept the notion, first popularized by former Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins, that laughter is an invaluable healing tool. Rainbow's hospital, St. Vitus General in
, founded its Humor Therapy Department in 1989. It stocked its library with tapes of the Marx Brothers, Candid Camera, Woody Allen, and Dan Quayle, and hired James Dancing Rainbow--formerly James T. Limpet--as its Senior Humor Technician. Mill Valley, California
“I guess I like it,” concedes Rainbow, pushing VCR buttons for a patient. “What the heck, it's a job.”
The patient, a man blooming with tubes like a modern Medusa, watches the Three Stooges on his screen. They make silly faces, throw pies, take pratfalls. The patient remains stone-faced.
“I'm coming back in an hour to get the machine,” Rainbow advises. “That tape's on for you to laugh at,
, so don't make me feel like I wasted my time, y'hear?” And James Dancing Rainbow moves on to his next patient. Turkey
Wide acceptance of humor therapy has brought additional “new-age” techniques into mainstream medical practice. At another bedside in the same hospital, Transition Counselor Summerfall Winterspring notices on her clipboard that her patient is terminal.
“So tell me, Ms. Dwuff,” she asks, “have you gone through the bargaining stage yet, or are you still in denial? No use burying your head in the sand about dying, you know.”
Ms. Dwuff, a crusty critter despite her years, springs upright. “Dying?! I'm not dying any more than you are, you impudent whelp! I'm just lying here!”
“Aha!” responds Ms. Winterspring confidently, tapping her pencil on her lower lip. “You're in the anger stage. I'll send you our Anger Specialist, Ms. Clearlight.”
Exhausted, the patient drops back onto her pillow. She moans, “I’m too tired to argue. Just bring me that Dan Quayle video, will you? All I really need is a laugh.”
In the cafeteria three floors below, Certified Caring Technician Rhonda Crystalwater is taking her coffee-and-cigarette break. “Rough day today,” she explains, blowing smoke pyramids. “Twenty-eight biorhythms and three more aura readings to do, one reiki, two fleiki, and Christ, the elevator's kaput.” She indicates her copious belly. “Can't climb stairs. Chemical imbalance.”
These innovative healing methods have so won over St. Vitus General’s patients that all its departments have found some new-age approach. The obstetrical ward was converted into a home-style delivery suite, complete with kerosene lighting and underwater deliveries in the department’s hot tub, all to an endless-loop tape of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. The Surgery Department replaced its antiquated green gowns with bright tie-dyes. Through the public address system comes not the standard metallic voice paging doctors, but that of Shirley MacLaine reading the Course in Miracles. In-house psychiatrists now channel Freud and Jung. And St. Vitus General bubbled to the top of the new-age column when it recently introduced play therapy into its Intensive Care Unit, renamed the “Peekaboo I.C.U.”
The hospital even tried to change its name to “St. Vitus Holistic,” but snagged on a lawsuit brought by the McDonald's Corporation, which patented the word “holistic” in 1975. According to a leak from the hospital's Board of Directors, a second choice may be “St. Vitus Biodegradable.”