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National Smile Week (March 6-11) gained support in high places last night as several members of the faculty lined up behind the idea. The consensus was that the mere act of smiling may actually make a person feel happy.
Professor Donald C. Williams, chairman of the Philosophy Department, cited the William James theory of emotion, which holds that emotions are simply sensations and feelings originating in the body. Therefore, he said, "by smiling you may actually feel better."
Edwin B. Newman, associate director of the Psychological Laboratories, agreed that the James theory has "limited application" in the case of National Smile Week. Newman stated that the act of smiling was "like a grain of aspirin--it won't hurt anybody, and might even help." He added, "I don't think it's going to aid anyone with any serious problems."
The benefits of smiling were also recognized by Edward S. Castle '25, associate professor of Physiology. "I try to make every week Smile Week," he said. He also commented, "I'm like the man on the street, who smiles when he wants to and laughs when he wants to."
Professor Earnest A. Hooton, chairman of the Anthropology Department and Curator of Somatology, had no opinion on the subject at all. "I have no opinion on this subject at all," he said.
Joe E. Brown, speaking as a non-member of the Harvard faculty, stood wholeheartedly behind the therapeutic value of National Smile Week. He stated that "laughter is a recognized therapy--a real medicine for illness." Professor Arlie V. Bock, Oliver Professor of Hygiene, could not be reached to comment on Brown's statement.
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