Skrattet Darwin

utdrag ur Charles Darwins The expressions of the emotions in man and animals. London 1872

A man in high spirits, though he may not actually smile, commonly exhibits some tendency to the retraction of the corners of his mouth. From the excitement of pleasure, the circulation becomes more rapid; the eyes are bright, and the colour of the face rises. The brain, being stimulated by the increased flow of blood, reacts on the mental powers; lively ideas pass still more rapidly through the mind, and the affections are warmed.

Laughter is frequently employed in a forced manner to conceal or mask some other state of mind, even anger. We often see persons laughing in order to conceal their shame or shyness.

The sound of laughter is produced by a deep inspiration followed by short, interrupted, spasmodic contractions of the chest, and especially of the diaphragm. Hence we hear of “laughter holding both his sides.” From the shaking of the body, the head nods to and fro. The lower jaw often quivers up and down, as is likewise the case with some species of baboons, when they are much pleased.

A bright and sparkling eye is as characteristic of a pleased or amused state of mind, as is the retraction of the corners of the mouth and upper lip with the wrinkles thus produced. Even the eyes of microcephalous idiots, who are so degraded that they never learn to speak, brighten slightly when they are pleased.

With imbeciles rather higher in the scale, personal vanity seems to be the commonest cause of laughter, and next to this, pleasure arising from the approbation of their conduct.

I was anxious to know whether tears are freely shed during excessive laughter by most of the races of men, and I hear from my correspondents that this is the case. One instance was observed with the Hindoos, and they themselves said that it often occured. So it is with the Chinese. The women of a wild tribe of Malays sometime shed tears when they laugh heartily, though this seldom occurs.