Updated date:

Laughing at a Funeral: Pseudobulbar Affect and Inappropriate Laughter

My husband and I were sitting in the front row at the funeral for his elderly father. I was fine until the singing started.

LMAO, But What's So Funny?

Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA) involves a mismatch between one's inward experience of feelings and his or her outward emotional expression.

Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA) involves a mismatch between one's inward experience of feelings and his or her outward emotional expression.

Giggles at A Funeral: Just Tell Me It's Not True

Most people would say that it takes a dark, twisted heart to get a case of the giggles at someone's funeral. But I did it. And the last time I checked, my heart wasn't dark at all.

My husband and I were sitting in the front row at the funeral for his elderly father. It was a small service of about 40 people. His father had survived a massive stroke 36 years prior, and against all odds, he had learned to walk and talk again—only to have died as a result of a hip fracture.

And there I was about to bust a gut at the funeral of this long-suffering man. I had no good explanation for it. I wish it were not true.

I was fine until the singing started.

My husband's uncle (a priest) delivered the eulogy, then an aunt (a nun) joined him in singing a hymn. However, instead of singing in unison, the two siblings sounded deadpan awful. Both were tone deaf and oblivious. And they sang with gusto, as if my father-in-law's entrance to Heaven's gates depended on it.

PBA: Laughing Your Head Off In the Wrong Situation

When you have PBA, you never know when the fits of inappropriate laughing or crying will strike.  Sometimes, it's terribly inconvenient and potentially embarrassing.

When you have PBA, you never know when the fits of inappropriate laughing or crying will strike. Sometimes, it's terribly inconvenient and potentially embarrassing.

Reader Experience Poll

As they belted out their celebration of our loved one's recent entry into Heaven, I felt an irrepressible urge to laugh. Each time they sang the line, "Oh, Death, you have no power!" it was like holding back a sneeze.

As I bit my lip, I instinctively pressed my chin to my chest, trying to conceal any facial expression with my long hair. My shoulders shook. I squeezed my husband's hand hard, and he squeezed back knowingly.

Luckily, the song ended and I pulled myself together before I bellowed aloud.

It wasn't the first time this had happened.

Uncontrollable Fits of Laughter

PBA affects about 10% of people with neurological disorders such as stroke, MS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, traumatic brain injury, and ALS.

PBA affects about 10% of people with neurological disorders such as stroke, MS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, traumatic brain injury, and ALS.

Laughing at a Sad Movie: "What Is Wrong With You?"

I vividly recall the first time I was overcome by a case of inappropriate laughter. I was in a crowded theater watching a tear-jerker movie, My Life.

The 1993 movie, starring Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman, is about a man with terminal kidney cancer who is about to become a first-time father. The man makes videos of life lessons so that his son will someday know his father, even if it's only through video.

Now, I'm not hard-hearted. I was just as sad as everyone else about the storyline. But you'd never know that from what happened next.

There was a man in the row ahead of me who had been crying, and just as Michael Keaton's dying character embraced his newborn child, my muse in the audience loudly inhaled—no, he gasped for air in what sounded like a snort.

Somehow, this struck me as hilarious. I cannot explain it.

I burst out laughing. I didn't just chuckle. I guffawed, and I couldn't stop. There were people in the crowd who shushed me. My husband elbowed me and asked, "What is wrong with you?" My inappropriate cackling continued for about 10 minutes.

I was mortified and could not account for myself. Ten years later, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a condition that often coexists with pseudobulbar affect (PBA).

Reader Poll:

When you have PBA, medicine and/or behavioral coping mechanisms can help you control the inappropriate laughter or other emotional displays.

When you have PBA, medicine and/or behavioral coping mechanisms can help you control the inappropriate laughter or other emotional displays.

What Is Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)?

Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a neurological disorder involving unpredictable and uncontrollable emotional displays of laughing, crying, or both.1 Less commonly, PBA may be referred to as emotional lability, pathological laughing and crying, or emotional incontinence.2

PBA entails difficulty with emotional expression and regulation due to problems with a person's neurotransmitter systems. An individual with PBA experiences emotional eruptions that are disconnected from their inner feelings of happiness or sadness.

Although sometimes the emotional displays may be prompted by something funny or sad (e.g., off-key singing), the fits of laughter or tears may be particularly intense and last an inappropriately long time.

Emotional Incontinence: Crying Jags for No Reason

Someone with PBA may not know why they are crying.  Their emotional displays may be mistaken as depression.

Someone with PBA may not know why they are crying. Their emotional displays may be mistaken as depression.

Who Gets PBA?

The condition is a separate neurological disorder which accompanies existing neurological damage.3 PBA affects as many as 7 million people who have neurodegenerative diseases and neurological conditions such as the following:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Alzheimer's disease/other types of dementia.4

A conservative estimate is that 10% of people with the preceding medical conditions also experience pseudobulbar affect.5

People who experience PBA often experience frustration, embarrassment, worry, and confusion about their inappropriate displays of emotion. The condition may interfere with relationships, social activities, and employment. Symptoms can range from mild and occasional (like mine) to debilitating and constant.

Men have greater prevalence rates of inappropriate laughing, while women tend to suffer more from episodes of inappropriate crying. The type of emotional expression is also related to the location of a patient's brain lesions. Onlookers may sometimes confuse PBA sufferers' emotional outbursts as mental illness, particularly because patients cannot explain their behavior.

The condition is not widely recognized and thus is underdiagnosed, although there is now medical treatment available for it.

In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug Nuedexta for the treatment of PBA. The medication can control as much as 80% of the inappropriate displays of emotion.

If you know someone with one of the above neurological conditions, and you notice inappropriate emotional displays, encourage them to talk to their doctor.

Tips: How to Deal With the Uncontrollable Emotional Outbursts of PBA

If you (or a loved one) experiences PBA, here are some techniques that may help when inappropriate outbursts crop up:6

  • Get distracted. Have someone knead or rub your shoulders or arm to help relax and distract you. For example, at my father-in-law's funeral, I found it helpful to squeeze my husband's hand and have him squeeze mine back. This allowed me to maintain just enough control to avoid bellowing out loud.
  • Leave the room. Remove yourself from the situation. Go to a quiet place and play some calm music if you can.
  • Practice 7-7-7 relaxation breathing. Close your eyes. Then inhale deeply, slowly counting to 7. Hold your breath, slowly counting to 7. Slowly breathe out as you once again count to 7. Repeat as necessary. This simple technique is effective at inducing calm in a variety of situations.
  • Mood incongruence. If dealing with laughter, for example, think of something mood-incongruent—angry thoughts, something disgusting, etc.
  • Educate others. If you have PBA, let those around you know before any uncomfortable incidents. A little advance education is better than hard feelings and profuse apologies later.

A Great Explanation of Pseudobulbar Affect

Notes

1. National Stroke Association. (n.d.). Pseudobulbar Affect – PBA. Retrieved from https://www.stroke.org/we-can-help/survivors/stroke-recovery/post-stroke-conditions/emotional/pseudobulbar-affect-pba/.

2. Minden, Sarah. "Pseudobulbar Affect (Uncontrollable Laughing and/or Crying)." National MS Society: National MS Society. Last modified 2012. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/NationalMSSociety/media/MSNationalFiles/Transcripts/transcript-Uncontrollable-Laughing-and-Crying.pdf.

3. Allen, Jane E. "Involuntary Laughing, Crying Disorder Pseudobulbar Affect." ABC News. Last modified November 4, 2010. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/DepressionTreatment/involuntary-laughing-crying-disorder/story?id=12028237.

4. Work, S S., J. A. Colamonico, W. G. Bradley, and R. E. Kaye. "Pseudobulbar affect: an under-recognized and undertreated neurological condition." National Center for Biotechnology Information. Last modified June 6, 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21660634.

5. King, R R., and J. P. Reiss. "The epidemiology and pathophysiology of pseudobulbar affect and its association with neurodegeneration." Dove Medical Press. Last modified May 2013. http://www.dovepress.com/the-epidemiology-and-pathophysiology-of-pseudobulbar-affect-and-its-as-peer-reviewed-article-DNND-recommendation1.

6. Larkin, Carole. "Alzheimer’s or Pseudobulbar Affect." Alzheimer's Speaks Blog. Last modified July 29, 2013. http://alzheimersspeaks.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/alzheimers-or-pseudobulbar-affect/.

Sometimes, You Just Have to Go With It

Sometimes you cannot help but laugh.  Just go with it.  If it's a little inappropriate, people will either understand or they won't.  Don't let it keep you from living.

Sometimes you cannot help but laugh. Just go with it. If it's a little inappropriate, people will either understand or they won't. Don't let it keep you from living.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: How can you tell if someone has Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA) or they're just laughing because they are rude, childish or insensitive?

Answer: Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA) is characterized by sudden, frequent, uncontrollable fits of laughter or crying. These bouts don't match the emotion one feels (e.g., uncontrollable crying but not sad or uncontrollable laughing but only slightly amused). Bouts of crying are more common and may turn into bouts of laughter, or vice versa, and these episodes last minutes.

People who have PBA have an underlying brain condition or neurological injuries, including stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. Since neurological diseases are NOT always a visible disability known to others (for example -- you couldn't tell I have MS from looking at me) you may not be able to discern why someone is behaving so outrageously. This may cause onlookers to jump to conclusions that someone is mentally ill, immature, or rude. The bottom line is there's no real way to tell. A person has to be diagnosed by a doctor with it. Understand, however, that PBA is NOT a common condition on the whole.

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 30, 2018:

Sulig - Thank you for your vivid description so that people can hopefully understand a little better what it's like being an unwilling passenger on this rollercoaster.

Sulig on March 30, 2018:

Had this laughing spell like 3 or 4 times before. The last one I remember is coming out of the hospital with a day in ICU and doctor that gave me a medication that hit me in my brain whereever makes you have spasms because these spasms was making my blood pressure hit 220 . Not my normal ones.(10 plus lesions on brain.) E.R doctor said there was never a reaction to that with the medication. Well went home 3 days later and stepped out to get mail. There was a piece of mail that was about funeral and what the thought was I don't even remember but only to start laughing my behind off like no other. Then to get a grip on myself and my son looking puzzling at me and chuckle a little and still not getting it. Sometimes these things can carry on over a few days only for the kids saying there she goes again. Actually sometimes getting upset with me. Why would they be upset over something so funny. Right? It can go away. The most recent is going through the worse crying spell two different times. Whoa! I would rather be laughing. My poor husband couldn't figure why except he was doing something wrong.. Best thing out of that was he started giving me more special attention now, We were fine in our relationship. More hugs and kisses now. I'll take it. I do not want to go through this.Never know when it is going to hit. Anyways laughter is better for your soul. Right?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 23, 2018:

Leland - You probably have the type of humor I do (even without the uncontrollable laughing fits). People are amazed that someone with a Ph.D. can have a slapstick sense of humor, but I generally enjoy movies like Dumb and Dumber, Borat, and Identity Thief. People can take themselves and the world too seriously, and it's good to howl out loud if you want to.

Sometimes it's being silly and other times it's PBA. Unfortunately, just today my mom was describing a knee operation she will have to undergo and I had to hang up quickly because something about her very vivid description struck me as hilarious. I cackled for about 10 minutes. Terrible.

Leland Johnson from Midland MI on March 23, 2018:

Great article with lots of good information. I never heard of this prior to reading your hub. I have to tell you, the scenes you described were so well told that they made me laugh too. I don't have PBA do I ??? I remember one occasion I had a laughing fit at the movie Dumb and Dumber. I finally got control of myself only to look over at my wife's expression of disbelief and I was instantly sent into another outburst. Thanks for the excellent work you did on this topic.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 07, 2017:

DJE777 - I'm sorry this happens to you.

Talk to your family doctor or neurologist about the number of times it has happened, the severity, and the interruption to you life. S/he can best decide a plan for you moving forward.

Information on the drug can be found here:

https://www.drugs.com/nuedexta.html.

DJE777 on May 07, 2017:

Hi, this happened to me recently at a funeral and I am so embarrassed, it hurts every time I think of it. I am wondering about the medication, because I do not want to take another pill.

What are the side effects?

This has happened in the past but not at a funeral and I have been able to control it in the past

Thanks

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 03, 2017:

Mona - Thank you for your kindness. I appreciate you.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on April 03, 2017:

I am terribly sorry that you have MS. I'm adding you to our prayer list for healing, daily comfort, and courage. This article is so interesting and highly informative. Never knew this condition existed until you wrote about it. Hugs,

Mona

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 27, 2017:

IRIS - See a doctor. I started laughing inappropriately years before being diagnosed with MS -- not that you have MS or any other brain damage. Any medical symptoms that are interfering with daily life, however, should be reported to a doctor for review. Take care of yourself.

IRIS on January 26, 2017:

I START CRYING FOR NO REASON AND LAUGH IN TRAGIC MOMENTS I GET IMBERASSED AND I HAVE NEVER HAD ANY SORT OF MEDICAL PROBLEM I OFTEN HAVE THIS PROBLEM IN SCHOOL CAN I GET HELP ?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 20, 2017:

Kobe - Thanks for sharing your situation. Sorry it happened for you. It may not be PBA, but imagine that happening frequently and you know the effects. Again, I appreciate your comment.

Kobe Jones on January 19, 2017:

today i had a presentation with 2 other people and one of the people in my group was bad at reading so when he started he couldn't say anything right and he couldnt sound out anything i new it was rude to lugh but it was hilarious I tried to hold it in but it just came out not really loud but everyone could hear it

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 13, 2016:

ldc - Laughing uncontrollably (and the uncontrollable part is the emphasis) at a funeral or other serious, inappropriate situation can be embarrassing and very socially inappropriate. (Weeping uncontrollably in inappropriate situations can happen, too.)

I agree with you that behavioral modification should always the first choice, thus tips are highlighted in the sidebar. However, for people with very bothersome cases, it's good to know there's a medicine that could help. Imagine being a priest or counselor, an executive, a judge or health care provider with PBA. Someone tells you a serious medical, legal, or spiritual confidence and instead of responding with empathy, information or a decision you bust out laughing for 10 minutes straight. You are right to raise the question though, so thank you!

ldc on September 12, 2016:

Maybe u just have a different sense of humor than others, based on what u said i would have laughed too! There are ways to control your behavior w/o medications. This medication is good for extreme cases,but keep in mind there serious side effects and consequenses when taking medications that literally change your brain chemicals!!

It sounds easy to just take a pill and it will fix everything?right? But remember to read the fine print of ALL meds.

And always try to modify things yourself before taking meds. There are so many other things u can try first.just My opinion...

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 20, 2016:

Nadine - Who knows why he was laughing (he may not have even known). When it happens with me, it comes out of nowhere and is irrepressible. I'm glad you found this informative. Thank you for your words of support.

Nadine May on July 20, 2016:

Thanks for that very informative post. I learned a great deal and now look back and wonder if my first husband was having these symptoms. He would laugh at me when I was truly very hurt or sad. From now on I will be less judgmental when someone laughs inappropriately.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 06, 2016:

Shyron - It's quite an unpredictable condition. I can't imagine being in certain lines of work and suddenly breaking out in inappropriate emotional displays. Grief counselor, preacher, surgeon, etc. Thanks for stopping by!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 06, 2016:

Flo, I am glad you were able to hide and suppress your laughter at your father-in-laws funeral. I try not to question someone's emotional reaction in any situation. "We all cry at weddings" don't we?

Thank you for sharing this personal problem with your readers and followers.

Blessings and hugs dear friend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 12, 2016:

Linda - Hopefully your dad would have approved, even if your aunt did not!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on January 12, 2016:

This article brings back memories...My sister and I who were 20 and 24 years old, burst out laughing at our dad's funeral. I cannot remember what made us do this, but I do remember being reprimanded by an aunt, our dad's sister. We were bad girls.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 12, 2016:

pinto2011 - Thank you. I'm glad I could help explain it for those who don't have it but can empathize.

Subhas from New Delhi, India on January 12, 2016:

Being in the medical field, this terms really drew my attention to read it. You have very well elaborated it.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 13, 2015:

thelostone - If you find that Pseudobulbar Affect seriously impacts your life, talk to your neurologist (or other physician/healthcare provider). There is an oral medication called Nuedexta that can be prescribed. I talked to my neurologist but decided that my symptoms were not bothersome enough at this time at least to require medication. Good luck to you both, and thank you for asking. It is a serious medical concern.

thelostone on April 12, 2015:

Thank you for your insight. My son and i havr that issue. I noticed that in serious syressful situations we laugh... Its not that we don't care, we just cannot control ourselves. Literally. What kind of assistance can we get to better manage this behavior?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 28, 2014:

Suzanne - That video is what it feels like! Thanks for finding it and sharing. Have a terrific day.

justmesuzanne from Texas on January 27, 2014:

Very interesting, well-researched and well presented information, which immediately made me think of Mary Richards at Chuckles the Clown's funeral:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmBK5GslDaQ

A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants!

Voted up, useful and interesting! :D

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 12, 2014:

Better Yourself - Just the other day, someone was telling me about a story involving a school principal tripping down a flight of stairs in front of a bunch of middle schooler). Not funny, but I heehawed throughout their account, barely managing to stop in order to eek out questions about if the poor principal was ok. So glad I was not there to see the incident first hand. Most people can identify with a little inapprpropriate emotion.

Better Yourself from North Carolina on January 12, 2014:

Really great hub! To be honest I was not familiar with PBA, you did an excellent job of breaking the info down and I'm sure this will be extremely helpful to many who are confused by their unpredictable emotions. I got tickled by your stories, although I'm sure in the moment for you it was more stressful. I like how you approach it towards the end - Sometimes you just have to go with it - laughing and crying are both great releases for your body and mind. I have not experienced unpredictable emotions to the extreme you mention, but I always find myself laughing harder and longer than anyone else, and sometimes I will be the only one laughing (but it hasn't been in a situation like a funeral, it's usually because I think of something funny and I'm laughing so hard at myself I can't stop long enough to tell anyone why I'm laughing). Well done, Voted Up!!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 02, 2014:

Frank - Thanks for stopping by. I promise I have never laughed at anything you've written. (Too chilling and imaginative, especially lately!) Have a great 2014.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on January 01, 2014:

maybe if I get nervous ill chuckle.. but what an interesting hub Flourish oh and Happy new year!!!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 10, 2013:

ologsinquito - Thanks for stopping by and for pinning. Have a great day.

ologsinquito from USA on December 10, 2013:

I'm pinning this to my "Things You Really Need to Know" board.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 21, 2013:

ologsinquito - Things are always funnier when you're sitting in the first pew and when more people are watching!

ologsinquito from USA on November 20, 2013:

I've never heard of this. But I do remember my cousin and I, when we were about 10 and 11, laughing uncontrollably at church. We were sitting in the first row, of course.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 18, 2013:

rohanfelex - Thank you for the compliment. I have also had to pinch myself sometimes when it comes to very angry people. They can be so animated and out of control.

Rohan Rinaldo Felix from Chennai, India on November 18, 2013:

Wonderful progression through the article... Indicates the class of the writer... As far as uncontrollable laughter at inappropriate times is concerned, I've done it... I've found funerals and even terribly angry people funny! Voted up and awesome!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 16, 2013:

Rebecca - I can imagine that; working on little sleep your defenses are down. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Rebecca Furtado from Anderson, Indiana on November 15, 2013:

Awesome hub. I have laughed inappropiately and uncontrollably when I have not had enough sleep. Voted up!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 28, 2013:

Suhail - No need to apologize as it is quite odd laughing at inappropriate times. Sometimes a contagion effect starts and others start laughing for no reason because I'm laughing supposedly for no reason. It can be a bit surreal. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on October 28, 2013:

I never heard of this disorder. I think that I generally laugh to the fullest just because life has been good to me and I find small opportunities to let that laughter come out to let me celebrate it. I hope it is just because of that and is not a harbinger of any disorder that comes later.

Oh yes, I found something to laugh reading your misery and I apologize for that. Needless to mention, this article is also informative and educational for me.

Regards,

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 09, 2013:

stuff4kids - I'm so sorry about your mother and your experience with family members not understanding. It was probably all the stress. Things can come out all wrong and we're only human. A big hug to you...

Amanda Littlejohn on October 09, 2013:

Oh goodness, I'm so glad I read this.

My mother died some years ago and when I was told about it, the first thing I did was laugh. I laughed right out loud. It wasn't at all that I thought it was funny - on the contrary it was devastating news. It was - think now - a stress response that kind of came out wrong.

At the time, however, it really shocked the rest of my family who thought I was being incredibly insensitive or had simply gone mad.

I guess, I've always had a bit of residual guilt about it - even though I know that inside I felt nothing but grief. This hub has really helped me understand that experience and put it in perspective.

Bless you. :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 23, 2013:

Rosemay50 - I'm sorry about your sister's stroke. I certainly hope with all the other challenges she must be experiencing that the expression of inappropriate laughing or crying isn't just one more thing she must deal with. If it is, however, at least you'll know what's going on and why. I'm glad I made you laugh.

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on September 23, 2013:

I had never heard of this condition before rteading this so thank you for making us aware through sharing your own experiences.

I am like Faith I tend to laugh when I am nervous. as does my son who once had a whole waiting room at the doctors in fits of laughter, it was one of those 'infectious' laughs.

It is good to know about this though as my sister has recently had a stroke and the more we learn the more we are prepared to deal with it.

Thank you for such an interesting and informative article, and yes you made me laugh too

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 12, 2013:

SandCastles - Good information. Thanks for reading and commenting. We are all so imperfect, and it's good to know that others have similar experiences, whatever the causes.

SandCastles on September 12, 2013:

People with Asperger's do this to sometimes and sometimes a person just gets embarrassed and shocked by information and they end up laughing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 12, 2013:

CrisSp - Thanks for reading. It's a real adventure! I never know when the giggles are going to come. At least it's not the crying type. That would be tough.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on September 12, 2013:

Oh my, this is very interesting! I never knew such condition exists. Thank you for sharing your personal experience. Now, I'm more knowledgeable about it. Great tips!

Voting up, useful and passing this along.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 11, 2013:

DDE - Thanks for reading and commenting. It can make for some awkward moments, especially for those who are with you. My husband is a real trooper!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 11, 2013:

Leann2800 - That had to be a terribly embarrassing experience, but at least you found a way to hide it! Mom really would've been beside herself if you had laughed out loud. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

leann2800 on September 11, 2013:

I did laugh at a funeral once. I didn't want to but couldn't stop it. My head was in my lap the whole time. The shaking of my shoulders had others think I was crying. Only my mom knew. She was so ill with me.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 11, 2013:

Laughing at a Funeral: Pseudobulbar Affect and Inappropriate Laughing and Crying something I haven't heard of but know of people who behave in such a manner. I didn't know until now. Voted up. useful and interesting.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 10, 2013:

Rajan - Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing. Sometimes it seems like the more a situation demands that folks not laugh, the harder it is for us to control a chuckle (even for those without the condition).

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 10, 2013:

Vey interesting information, a very useful read of a medical condition I was not aware of. Though I do not suffer from any of these conditions some serious situations like off key singing in a serious environment does lead me to uncontrollable laughter.

Voted up, interesting and useful. Sharing this.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 09, 2013:

Oh, Crafty, my warped and wayward kindred spirit - This is awful, but reading your account is making me laugh! Watching medical and especially surgical documentaries on tv (and I actually LIKE them) makes the wheels come completely off the bus for me. I can empathize with what you were experiencing as onlookers wondered whether you were dealing with a full deck. Been there! I laughed AND cried like a mad woman when my mother's colonoscopy prep didn't quite empty her out and she pooped all over the hospital restroom floor. I was also gagging at the time. I wrote about it in a hub called, "Holy Crap! Batman's Secret's For A Better Colonoscopy." Thanks so much for sharing your story. Loved it.

CraftytotheCore on September 09, 2013:

Wow! This was so interesting! I never knew it had a name. The first time it happened to me was when I was walking down the sidewalk to a small mall. I was heading toward a grocery store. An elderly gentleman (bless his heart), fell off a curb and broke his ankle. I stood there laughing hysterically at the poor man while onlookers must of thought I was nuts!

I couldn't help it. I felt terrible. I couldn't stop doing it though. I had to leave the area.

The second time it happened to me was when I witnessed a car accidentally drive through the front end of a retail store and almost mow several people down. I squatted down in the front seat of a car and laughed until I had tears streaming down my face. I couldn't stop laughing and had to leave once again.

I'm not dark hearted either. But it's a terrible thing to laugh when it's totally inappropriate and no one understands. :D

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 09, 2013:

bac2basics - Thanks for commenting and reading. I'm thankful that my husband wasn't offended. He tends to roll with things pretty well at this point. Bellowing at the movie was embarrassing but at least it was in the dark!

Anne from Spain on September 09, 2013:

Hi Flourish.

I think many people are inclined to giggle inappropriately when nervous, and I suspect there were more people than you knew trying to control themselves at the funeral, I would probably have been one of them but it must have been very embarrassing all the same. I have never heard of this condition though and you did a great job in explaining it.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 08, 2013:

Yep, Deeda, we all have some degree of weirdness. This one is MS-related, but many of my other eccentricities are probably just that -- being gloriously off-kilter. If you can't change it, embrace it!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 08, 2013:

epbooks - Once the giggles start, it is impossible to stop so you have to either disguise it, remove yourself from the situation, try stress reduction, or just go with it until it passes. I can only imagine how your boss took your laughing (yikes!), and I hope that you were able to somehow disguise your reaction at your friend's funeral. It can't always be helped! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Deeda on September 08, 2013:

Holy Crap Flourish, I never knew this. Batman might disown you! Makes sense though, and gives insight to other normalities of life I have observed first hand.

Interesting and Voted up++++

Deeda

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on September 08, 2013:

Oh goodness- I am one of these people who laugh at the most inopportune times, one was for a friend's funeral and the other was for a superior at work. Mind you, I loved them both, but something triggered me to laugh and when I start, I can't stop. Same goes for movies, Church, libraries or any place it's required that I be quiet. My nerves take over and it ends up with me laughing. Thank you for posting this. I think I might have that affect as well!!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 08, 2013:

Bill - Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing. If you friend has brain lesions associated with one of those conditions and they're having fits of uncontrollable laughing, crying or (OMG) both in the same episode, the culprit may indeed be PBA. There are brief on line screening tests for PBA to help your friend decide whether they should talk to their neurologist about it.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 08, 2013:

Hi FA. I have never heard of the Pseudobulbar Affect. How interesting. Now that I think about this I think I know someone who may have this? I'll have to mention it to them. Very interesting, voted up, shared, etc...

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 08, 2013:

bravewarrior - Thankfully I don't have a bad case of it. I do tend to laugh at medical/surgical documentaries. Thank God I am not in the medical field, huh? It's never interfered with work but I dodged a bullet at that funeral.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 08, 2013:

Faith Reaper - Glad I made you laugh. It's really hard not to. I am just glad I don't have a tendency to weep inconsolably for no reason!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 08, 2013:

Bless your heart. I don't know anyone who has PBA, but I can see how disturbing it can be to all concerned. Thanx for the information, Flourish. I've known people who giggle when they're nervous, but I was unaware of this disorder.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 07, 2013:

Oh, my goodness ... I am afraid I may have a bit of a touch of this "Affect" for when I get nervous, I will laugh just a little bit, when there is nothing to laugh about. Thankfully, it is not as extreme as you have described here. Now, you did make me laugh here ...LOL

This is an extremely interesting hub here. I never really heard of this in particular, but I knew that sometimes for whatever reason, usually when one is nervous, in my case, people will laugh and not meaning to be rude or anything.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

Awesome write! Have a great rest of the weekend.

Faith Reaper

Related Articles