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I'm Laughing, But It's Not Funny - PBA

Updated on December 9, 2017

It's really not funny

We’ve all been there; laughing at something that isn’t funny. Stop and think if ever you have found yourself laugh when someone has fallen or hurt themselves before asking if they were okay. You think that your laughter is not appropriate for the situation and you quickly attempt to “pull yourself together” long enough to sincerely ask them if they are okay?

I'm sorry, I can't help it

When I was a kid, I annoyed many friends as I found myself unable to control my unnecessary laughter. I remember watching one of my dear friends lose control of her mountain bike in gravel and fall to the ground; all the while I’m crouched behind her trying to conceal my uncontrollable laughter. I immediately try to take a deep breath and quickly squeak out “You okay?”, but the strained sound of my voice is only more damaging when she realizes that I am desperately trying to hold back the laughter. That particular wipe-out didn’t result in any major or life-threatening injuries; just simply a scuffed up knee which was scabbing nicely by the following day. As her knee was nicely healing she expressed to me that her parents were not thrilled about the idea of her being friends with me. Completely caught off guard I inquired why and she said because I “laugh when she gets hurt”.

Sure, I laugh, but I laugh all the time; I’m a funny person and I have a great sense of humor. I guess there are times that laughing might seem inappropriate, but it is certainly not meant to be offensive. I have also found myself laughing when being reprimanded by my parent or questioned by a teacher, not all out hysterical laughter, just an inside giggle, but the kind that you try to stop because you know it will only worsen the situation. I have found myself laughing when I was actually fearing something, laughing when I was sad; thinking to myself, “Why am I even laughing”. Do you know how many times I have had to say, “I know I’m laughing, but I don’t think it’s funny”?

Unexplained laughing or crying

I thought that this uncontrollable laughter of mine was relatively normal, slightly inappropriate but relatively normal. That is until I heard a commercial blaring from the other room that immediately caught my attention; “…don’t call it crazy…episodes of uncontrollable laughing or crying…call it by its real name…PBA”. I happened to be sitting at the computer as the commercial played and immediately opened a new tab and typed in PBA. PBA is pseudobulbar affect and is characterized by unexplained, often unwarranted laughing or crying. I said to myself, “Gee, not only to I laugh in inappropriate situations, but now that I think about it I cry for what seems like “no reason” quite frequently too”. Maybe I have this PBA, so I read more.

PBA – PseudoBulbar Affect

PBA affects almost 2 million Americans and is the result of a neurological condition or brain injury. PBA affects the part of the brain that controls normal emotion responses and is explained to have something of a “short circuit” causing these temporary episodes of laughing or crying. Common conditions that lead that may lead to PBA are Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Traumatic brain injury.

Why am I laughing?

Do I think I have PBA? No. After researching more about the condition I’m pretty sure that I can rule it out. There are many other medical related explanations for unexplained such as social anxiety, Tourette syndrome, Tic disorders, just to name a few. I don’t think that I need to talk with my doctor about my laughing or crying because I think I can self-diagnose myself as just simply immature, but for those who really question themselves; it may not hurt to talk to your doctor or research online.


PBA Commercial


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    • profile image

      kassidi43 3 years ago

      Cool beans

    • profile image

      Johnd465 3 years ago

      An interesting dialogue is worth comment. I feel that you must write more on this topic, it won't be a taboo subject but typically people are not sufficient to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers fdkcfdeadegf

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Very interesting. I remember once laughing with great hilarity when I arrived at my mom's house just as she was slicing something (always improperly) and she sliced open her thumb. I thought it was funny (knowing it wasn't serious) because every time I turned around she was cutting herself because she refused to slice things properly and safely. I turned out to do the same thing when I entered the food service business. She wasn't offended it at all, and joined in with me.

      There are people who are known to laugh at funerals or some other situation where laughing is not the accepted or expected behavior. I think it is a psychological defense or something that causes us to laugh at the wrong time.

      And I think sometimes, we just need to be taken tot he woodshed and straightened out.

      When my sister got married I stood up with her. She broke wind and pretty soon she and I were laughing hard with every restraint possible. My uncle told us later he could see our shoulders shaking and thought we were crying.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York


      I'm glad you laughed at Jeff because I'm laughing too! Ha ha... laughing doesn't mean we don't care, I personally think it's just how our body sometimes chooses to respond. I had gotten in a car accident with my mother in law a couple of years ago. My head smashed off the passenger window as she accidentally 'blew through an intersection'... luckily she wasn't hurt and while I still can't figure out what I found funny, as she was standing outside of the car, looking at the damage, and me, holding my head... and discovering my new lovely hematoma... I started laughing. Once I got thinking how horrible it would be if she caught me laughing, I tried so hard to stop that I began laughing harder. I'm thinking 'Dang it girl, get a hold of yourself!' Of course... I couldn't... by the time she got back to the car, I was biting the insides of my cheek (I think until they bled) ha ha.

      The Jeff thing though... ah, that is funny and I have a tendency to laugh at my kids all the time (when no serious injuries are involved of course). Just last summer we went for a walk in our village down toward our gorge and the shoulder of the road was all chewed up and there was quite a discrepancy between the road and the ground. My son's such a klutz anyway... well, he caught his foot, teetering on the edge... did a little wobble chop thing and tumbled over... like a scene out of Dumb and Dumber, I swear. He sat on the roadside, holding his leg and there I am, bent over, laughing hysterically. Some neighbor woman caught on apparently, as she yelled from her front porch 'You okay honey?' .... I imagined her to be thinking 'Since your mother doesn't seem to care!'... ha ha ha... I did all I could to hold my laughter in long enough to say "Thank you!", then we scurried out of there as quick as we could because I knew I couldn't contain the laughter much longer and I was a little embarrassed. I should've yelled to the woman 'That's okay, I always laugh, they're used to it!' lol.... Thanks a lot for coming by... it's so good to see you!


    • wildove5 profile image

      wildove5 4 years ago from Cumberland, R.I.

      Oh cat,,, I didn't realize how much I missed you until I read this piece. You and I would get along splendidly!! I too am inflicted with what I refer to as " Giggle syndrome," Although I have never had a friends parents not allowing their daughter to hang out with me. However, I have gotten that side ways glance a time or two, you know the one, the slight head tilt, brows almost touching as if to say, " really, I'm bleeding and you have tears running down your legs from laughing so hard!!! To which I choke out while trying to catch my breath a squeaky,,,I'm sorry, giggle giggle, are you ok! The funniest I can recall was when I was a foster mother. Don't get me wrong, I loved ALL my kids dearly, but this for some reason really made me giggle, and of course I felt bad but couldn't control my outburst. Anyway's,,,Jeff my nine year old had a habit of sitting with his arms tucked inside his shirt with his arm folded across his chest, as if hugging himself. Well one day he was sitting outside on our porch in a whicker rocking chair. Apparently he was sitting indian style as well. All of a sudden he came running into the house screaming and crying. I took one look at him and it was obvious that he fell. He had a nice scrape running up the bridge of his nose and his chin and forehead were quite pink. I knew he had been sitting on the porch the last time I checked so I was really confused as to how he had gotten hurt. As he was telling me what happened I tried everything to stifle myself, then suddenly it happened the first slightest giggle escaped. I fought so hard to control it that my face hurt. Apparently Jeff went to stand up from his indian position and his foot caught in the hem of his pants and he tipped forward, with his arms tucked neatly inside his shirt he had no way to brace his fall, he went down like a tree in the forest. As I type this now I swear I'm giggling!!! Oh what a horrible mom I am!!!! At first I think his ego hurt more than the scrapes he incurred and I of course apologized for days!!! It has been years since this happened and thankfully Jeff is still in our lives and has been kind enough to forgive me. I guess it was a combination of things that made me laugh that day, one I knew he wasn't hurt badly, and two, the vision of him going down the way he did was just plain funny! And three, because life is just to dam short to take everything so seriously, especially yourself! Great Hub! Loved it!!

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York

      Well Colin, you are a gift in my life... you really are! :-)

      I really appreciate you sharing the Langley Schools Music Project with me. I've already listened to over a dozen of the songs... I keep saying "okay, just one more..." I was quite intrigued and impressed and I've been reading a little about their background and watched some interviews. I have to say... those songs evoke many emotions. The boppy ones make me want to tap my feet but there are others that have such an innocent, deep feel... it almost makes me want to cry. Then even switching back over to a "happy" song, an awkward sadness takes over... very powerful, very beautiful. I've saved the whole project in my favorites... but I too would like to own a copy. Thank you for that.

      Tonight my daughter had to share the stage with others... but her class sang "Splish Splash", "I Won't Grow" Up (Mary Martin as Peter Pan) and "Give My Regards to Broadway"... quite an interesting compilation... it was so stinkin' cute!

      You enjoy that night off of yours! Funny, it's raining overhear too! Yes, you must keep those kittens dry ;-) and relaxing to your very eclectic taste in music, another thing I love about you! Thinking of you in these last moments I'm awake and I'll be taking you with me when I hit the sack tonight too!

      Big fat wet goodnight smooch from your Cat

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      1. Thank you for your TLC , Cat - it truly is a gift in my life.

      2. I am all excited about your beloved daughter's concert tonight and I certainly would love to be there so you must tell me all about it. A little homework assignment for you: Google or you tube - The Langley Schools Music Project and their awesome cd - Innocence and despair, I own a copy and you will love it.

      Have a safe, happy, and fun evening and I will talk to you soon my dear friend - pussycats are in with me right now because it's raining here as I listen to Greek bouzouki music and they're both happy and dry because there's nothing worse than a wet pussy(cat) lol

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York

      Dearest Colin,

      My heart and thoughts are with you today even more than usuall... which I admit is quite near impossible. I just want you to know, as I've said before, I think the world of you and if ever you need anything, even an ear... I have two of them and one has your name on it :-)

      With that said; Thanks! See what happens over a bowl of some Fruit Loops and a little late night TV? Do you ever find yourself just writing about any ol' weird thing on a whim? Your story... too funny. Every time I picture you as a boy, laughing beyond control, I can't help but laugh out loud to myself... why do I picture you as a little tyrant?

      Gee, "cultural anthropologist"? You're too kind, but I think I will get it printed on a shirt! :-) You know, even though I've gotten to fear people and avoid human contact... I am a lover of people and unlike many others, I try to see the good in everyone rather than the bad. Sometimes you have to understand why, to understand a person... I'm always trying to analyze people, not criticize.

      I'm so glad you and your kitties have the night off... enjoy yourself Colin... you deserve it!!! I couldn't love ya anymore than I do!!! (I'm afraid I'll be missing the game again tonight... but it couldn't be for a better reason... my daughter's 2nd grade class is having a Spring concert and they are singing the Oldies tonight!)

      I'll mentally take you with me and you can cheer and yell at the TV screen for me!

      A big huuuuge hug and smooch from the other side of the lake, where you're always welcome!

      Your Cat

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      I always love to surprise my hub colleagues and friends by going back and unearthing some of their buried treasure. I remember once my friend Peter and I were in a classy book store (much like your Barnes and Noble) and we saw a brand new coffee table size dictionary featuring new words. There were two entire pages devoted to 'variations' on the 'F' word - we never giggled and then laughed so hard in our lives - the security even came over to check us naughty boys out - lol -

      I always love your 'take' on life Cat - it's so unique and refreshing and witty but it always explores the truth and exploits the many peculiar sides of our human nature. You are what I call a cultural anthropologist and you certainly have the intrepid mind of a world class investigative journalist. Thank you for just being yourself and in the process letting us look at ourselves too and learn and laugh and share in this thing we call life.

      Sending you warm wishes from Colin and his cats who think they own the neighborhood right now but no one else is around to contradict them and one more night off to watch the Leaf/Bruin playoff game on my lap top while the cats guard the front deck from unwanted intruders, lol.

      lake erie time ontario canada 3:18pm and I put my feet in the lake yesterday after thinking about you and the water sizzled....


      Colin Hot foot James Brown


    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York


      My very first Psychology class in college began with a disclaimer: self diagnosis is extremely dangerous. I remembered thinking, "Well, gee, who would want to diagnose themselves with Psychological disorders?" Before I was through with my first class I had myself or family members suffering from over a dozen illnesses! PBA... maybe, maybe not but it really makes you wonder. Some situations just seem quite inappropriate for laughter and personally, I feel like it shows my "immaturity" when I cannot compose myself. When in those situations, it's almost like the harder I try to make it stop the closer I am to an all out hysterical laugh, thinking, "What the heck is the matter with you?", "Pull yourself together for God's sake"!

      I couldn't help but laugh out loudat your statement (perhaps a sign of PBA?)

      Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences with me; makes me feel a little more normal ;-)

    • profile image

      Lesleysherwood 5 years ago

      Wow. This answers a lot of personal questions our family have lived with all our lives. When my grandmother was a young woman one of her sisters lost her teenage boy in the second world war. This poor boy's body was in pieces and came home in a metal box. My grandmother along with another one of their sisters went to the house to obviously comfort their older sibling and found that they couldn't walk up the garden path as they were hysterically giggling. This pattern has stayed with us all. We laugh at funerals, people falling, even retarded people. How on earth can we be so BAD. But I feel we might have the old tourette syndrome-tic disorders, in the genes as we have family members with epilepsy and tic disorders. Fantastic hub, voted UP and awesome and shared.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York

      While I don't think my uncontrolled laughter is related to medical issues, especially since I have been like this my entire life; I wonder if I would be harder to detect in someone like myself who has laughing fits in normal health?

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 5 years ago from Norfolk

      I don't think this is unusual at all, probably caused by nerves or stress but as with everything which troubles one unduly, well worth seeking some professional advice.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York


      Thanks...and I'm sure that much of my laughing in inappropriate situations is the result of nerves. Sometimes I laugh when I'm nervous, it starts as a little almost non-existent chuckle, then because I feel like a moron and try so hard to calm myself, it escalates and I feel pathetic; a grown adult and I can't control my laughter. Obviously I'm looking on the humorous side of the conversation and pointing out my own flaws, but this could be a serious issue for some people. An issue that I wasn't aware of and I wondered how many others weren't either.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 5 years ago from Norfolk

      Hello Cantuhearmescream, Interesting Hub, think we have all done this at one time or other. I thought it might be from nerves or stress from a particular situation, bit like opening your mouth before you think. Voted up, thanks for sharing.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks, I generally look at laughter as a good thing. Yes, I have also laughed and cried at the same time, generally when you find humor in hurting yourself. I've laughed until tears and I've laughed until stomach cramps. I'm sure I can recall times that I laughed until I ... you know.

      I never really associated laughing with any kind of medical issues before, but I'll look a little harder the next time I see someone laughing.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      interesting hub. Laughing has many aspects in human. Sometimes, i could shed tears while laughing too. Voted up


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