On December 2, it was revealed that for the first time in 20 years, vast changes were made to the DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.” The reason this manual is important is because it defines what things are considered disorders, thus impacting what maladies insurance companies will cover and what drugs pharmaceutical companies will force down our throats to cure them.
The lame-stream media mostly focused on the elimination of Asperger’s Disorder and the retention of dyslexia, but some new definitions of disorders also made it into the updated manual. A new disorder has been introduced to explain away temper tantrums in children called “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder;” another widely unreported change has for the first time described a medical condition for a lack of a sense of humor called Dissociative Humor Disorder or “DHD.”
DHD was first uncovered by Dr. Howard Philips Lovecraft, a psychiatry professor from Miskatonic University in Arkham, MA.
“We first stumbled upon the presence of a medical condition relating to a lack of humor by observing subjects watching “The Late Show with David Letterman,” said Lovecraft. “About 7 in 10 subjects fell asleep or showed no visible signs of amusement, but 3 in 10 subjects laughed at things that weren’t remotely funny and showed decreased activity in the frontal lobe of their cerebral cortex.”
The disorder, which has been dubbed “Letterman’s Fallacy” by psychiatrists, ironically comes on the heels of Letterman being celebrated in Washington D.C. at the request of President Obama. Psychiatrists were originally planning to fold DHD into a more broad definition of a social disorder, but it became apparent that the symptoms were unique.
Overlapping with Asperger’s Syndrome
The introduction of DHD at first glance seems unrelated to the dropping of Asperger’s Disorder until you start looking at the some of the symptoms of Asperger’s: Fixated interests and repetitive behaviors including repetitive use of objects or phrases, stereotyped movements, and excessive attachment to routines, objects, or interests.
- Fixated Interests: David Letterman fans are so fixated on watching his atrocious show that they haven’t realized that not only is Conan O’Brien funnier, but ever since the explosion of the Daily Show and the Colbert Show, the funniest late night shows are on Comedy Central!
- Repetitive behaviors: What’s the only even remotely funny segment of Letterman? Exactly, the top ten list. Judging by my calculations, there have been at least 7,500 top ten list segments. The same thing night in and night out for 30 years, is that repetitive? Is that repetitive?
- Stereotyped movements: The odd facial gyrations made by Letterman - his smirks, jowly gymnastics and uncanny resemblance to a chipmunk are “part of what makes him funny,” said one noted Letterhead (Letterman fans are called “Letterheads”, not to be confused with “Ladderheads” which are people who have been hit in the head with ladders.) I believe Letterman is actually stereotyping comedians who aren’t funny by simulating the grimaces of the audience in advance. It’s called mirror neurons folks.
- Excessive attachment to routines, objects, or interests. This pretty much sums up the Top Ten list. I mean, his first segment ever was “The Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas.” His most recent was “Top Ten Other Procedures Performed By The Mustache Implant Doctor.” Same format, same routine, still not funny 30 years later.
Specific Symptoms of Acute DHD
Despite the obvious overlap with Asperger’s, psychiatrists note that the specific symptoms of DHD separate it from many other related disorders and many have a clinical interest in why some people find David Letterman amusing. Is it genetic? Is it a learned behavior? An offshoot of several other related-disorders, DHD is the first to truly isolate the exact medical condition of people with no sense of humor.
Other symptoms include:
- Believing falsehoods. For example, that David Letterman invented lists: One test subject actually speculated how anyone completed a trip to the grocery store without forgetting an item before Letterman invented lists.
- Falsely attributing character traits to individuals. For example, describing David Letterman as “innovative” despite the fact that his entire show is modeled after Johnny Carson’s and his Top Ten List was inspired by The Dick Clark Show.
- A strange aversion to funny comedians. Examples include Cosby, Pryor, Murphy and Carlin. Inversely, symptoms can also include a fondness for Gallagher, Carlos Mencia and ventriloquists.
- Linguistic misappropriations. For example thinking longevity and humor are synonyms. A common misappropriation suggests that because Letterman has been on TV for 30 years, he must be funny. Conversely, this implies that comedians such as David Chapelle are therefore not funny because they had relatively short-lived television careers.
- Delusions of grandeur. For example, considering oneself to be the preeminent expert on comedy despite the lack of a formal comedic education. Malcolm Gladwell defines an expert as someone who has put 10,000 hours into a craft. A “comedic expert” would therefore have to also satisfy this condition.
- Misplaced anger and defensive reactions. The mere questioning of the veracity of Letterman’s humor can inspire this reaction in the most severe cases of DHD. Common reactions include calling people “ignorant,” “brainless” or “in over their head.”
- False inspirational attribution. An example is implying that Letterman has inspired some of the biggest comedians of this generation and then using Jimmy Kimmel as an example. Let’s be honest, the patriarchal Man Show was funny while it lasted with its beer chugging and girls on trampolines, but Jimmy Kimmel is no bastion of comedy.
- Frequent engaging in a wild goose chase. An example is maniacally scouring Youtube for hours to come up with the perfect example of a funny Letterman segment, to no avail. When finding no ammunition to back up their claims of Letterman’s humor, many resort to the earlier “anger and defensive reaction” symptom.
Cures for DHD
While currently there are no known cures for “Letterman’s Fallacy,” there are several known remedies that may improve the individual’s condition. The first is watching Cool Runnings at least 4 times a week for a six-month period. Another is eating cuitlacoche and ingesting large amounts of distilled water. But the most important thing by far is to refrain from watching The Late Show with David Letterman.
If you don’t currently suffer from DHD and would like to see some of the biggest acts in comedy hit the stage live, check out the comedy tickets available on Ticket Liquidator.