Humanities at the Bedside

Humor - Session C

“Gallows Humor in Medicine” by Katie Watson



This  Hastings Center Report Opinion Piece presents an interesting analyzation of gallows humor, a particular type of humor that’s not uncommon to the Emergency Department. Consider the points for analysis that Dr. Watson puts forward. Do you agree? Are there particular points that you hadn’t considered which ring true? Where do you disagree or question her argument? Do you feel that there are additional points missing? Do you feel there’s a role for gallows humor and there are moments when it’s acceptable? Is it ok if attendings engage in gallows humor but not residents or students? Do you have a similar story from your professional experience?

Exercise: Read articles of your choosing at and choose one for this exercise. Using the criteria in from the Watson article, make the case as to why the chosen piece is acceptable or unacceptable. Explain what makes it funny to you.



Back to Module

[ Feedback → ]