Not a Crying Shame

I confess to crying.  I (nearly) always feel (at least a little & sometimes alot) better afterwards.  I find it interesting too that, without thinking, I use the word “confess”, as if crying is something to be ashamed of.  Most of time it does seem like we adults can & do make a decision to not cry, depending on the context of our emotional or physical pain; according to the research, though, the human ability to cry is likely to be healthy, to reduce the negative physical consequences of emotional stress, & to contribute to human bonding.

As far as we know, humans are the only mammals who cry emotional tears.  It’s still kind of a mystery why, although there are theories & other sorts of research & informed commentary out there which link emotional crying with hormonal & endorphin release.  We women cry about four times as often as men (although that ratio seems low to me – maybe the guys cry alone & we don’t know about it?).  Women have 60% more of the hormone prolactin, which is indicated in lactation and ability/need of females to cry more often than males.  Females & males cry at about the same rate until we reach school age, and then again when we’re old, which supports the notion of hormonal influence.  Social pressure and responsiveness to crying also influences our tendency to let the tears fall as and when they may (…or not).

Recent research also indicates that tears can cause reduced male sexual arousal (no wonder the guys don’t want to go to those chick flicks with us).  Other recent research links increased levels of prolactin and reduced levels of testosterone with positive male nurturing behaviors.

No doubt, there’s alot to cry about out there – world affairs, being human, grief, anger, hurt & pain, joy even!  I permanently stopped wearing eye make-up & ended up with chronic sinusitis after our younger daughter died eight years ago & I left my job of 19 years.  Ergo, I’ve become very familiar with how my body feels when it needs the release of a good cry, and if circumstances allow (there’s that conscious decision-making process again), I do. Usually, I’m not ashamed of it.  You shouldn’t be either.

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5 Responses to Not a Crying Shame

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for giving this topic some factual background. Interesting how we can consciously stop crying. I wish we could consciously induce crying, since it is a good release.

  2. liveoaklinda says:

    The concept of “letting down” sometimes works for me…interesting that that also refers to when breast milk is released during nursing. Hmmm…

  3. Denise N says:

    Brilliant, had no idea that women have a hormone that actually facilitates them crying and releasing toxin. Great blog!

  4. liveoaklinda says:

    here’s a recent article about human tears: “I Cry, Therefore I Am” by Michael Trimble, NY Times 11/10/12:

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