Why Do People Cry?

If you have ever wondered “Why do people cry?” then maybe the question came to mind as sad things were happening to you. Emotional tears are one of three types of tears that human tear ducts can produce. Such tears from the lacrimal apparatus flow as a response to sorrow, physical pain, or distress.

Emotional tears apparently contain more manganese, which is an element that affects temperament. Releasing this element through one’s emotional tears is believed to decrease tension by equalizing stress levels in the body and preventing a buildup of chemicals, which makes the person crying feel better afterward.

The minor physiological benefit of emotional tears is outweighed by the use of emotional tears as a means of communication, which is another answer to “Why do people cry?” Babies, for instance, can only express their fear, frustration, need, or pain through crying. They usually have three different types of crying that are differentiated by the sounds they make: (1) basic cry, (2) anger cry, and (3) pain cry. Most parents with babies can distinguish their own baby’s cries from those of another child, and adults can generally tell whether a baby’s cries mean anger or pain.

On the other hand, adults can use crying to bond with others, as expressing sadness can instigate comfort and support from their peers. Having different languages is a barrier to spoken communication, but emotion is universal. You may have seen this on occasions where crying is culturally acceptable, like weddings and funerals.

Psychological theories that try to answer the question “Why do people cry?” have emphasized how tears may be related to people’s perceived helplessness. With this psychological perspective, some have deduced that an underlying experience of helplessness can make people cry. Tears of joy when receiving surprisingly happy news could possibly be due to a person’s feelings of powerlessness or inability to influence what is going on.

But if they are not at a wedding or funeral or they are not feeling particularly emotional, why do people cry then? Reflex tears are another type of tears that can be an explanation for why people cry. When a person’s ocular structures are irritated, reflex tears flush out the eye. The medical term lacrimation, also spelled lachrymation, is used to mean both emotional and non-emotional shedding of tears.

A few medical disorders are related to crying. Bell’s palsy may be a cause of crying while eating. Some people may suffer from pathological crying and/or laughing, which causes episodes of uncontrollable crying, laughing, or both.

Posted at June 24th, 2011.

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