User:Nk.sheridan/Sandbox/Crying

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A child crying.

Crying (pronounced [ˈkraɪɪŋ]; from Middle English crien or Old French crier [1]) is the act of shedding tears as a response to an emotional state in humans. The act of crying has been defined as "a complex secretomotor phenomenon characterized by the shedding of tears from the lacrimal apparatus, without any irritation of the ocular structures".[2]

According to a study of over 300 adults, on average men cry once every month, and women cry at least five times per month[3], especially before and during the menstrual cycle when crying can increase up to 5 times the normal rate, often without obvious reason such as depression or sadness.[4]

Physiology[edit]

Tears produced during emotional crying have a chemical composition which differs from other types of tear. They contain significantly greater quantities of hormones prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, Leu-enkephalin[5] and elements potassium and manganese.[6]

Evolution[edit]

A neuronal connection between the lacrimal gland and the areas of the human brain involved with emotion was established during human evolution facilitating the act of crying in response to emotion. No other animals are thought to produce tears in response to emotional states[7], although this is disputed by some scientists.[8]

Psychology[edit]

See also Learned helplessness.

A unitary psychological cause is thought to be perceived helplessness.[9]

Function[edit]

Although very few theories exist it is thought that crying serves two functions in adults. These can be catergorised as intrapersonal or interpersonal.[10]

Intrapersonal functions thought to be served by crying include maintenance of psychological and physiological homeostasis whilst interpersonal functions include the influencing of others to communicate distress and elicit support.[11]

Intrapersonal functions[edit]

Flushing of stress chemicals[edit]

Due to the chemical composition of emotional tears, some scientists have hypothesized that a function of crying is to rid the body of stress hormones. William H. Frey II, a biochemist at the University of Minnesota, proposed in his publication "Crying; The Mystery of Tears" that people feel better after crying due to the elimination of hormones associated with stress[12], specifically adrenocorticotropic hormone.

Interpersonal functions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
  2. ^ V. Patel, Crying behavior and psychiatric disorder in adults: a review, Compr. Psych. 34 (1993) 206– 211. Quoted by Michelle C.P. Hendriks, A.J.J.M. Vingerhoets in Crying: is it beneficial for one’s well-being?
  3. ^ Why do we Cry,Walter, Chip,Source:Scientific American Mind; Dec2006, Vol. 17 Issue 6, p44, 8p,ISSN 1555-2284
  4. ^ Fischer, Agneta. Gender and Emotion: Social Psychological Perspectives.
  5. ^ Skorucak A. "The Science of Tears." ScienceIQ.com.
  6. ^ Why do we Cry,Walter, Chip,Source:Scientific American Mind; Dec2006, Vol. 17 Issue 6, p44, 8p,ISSN 1555-2284
  7. ^ Why do we Cry,Walter, Chip,Source:Scientific American Mind; Dec2006, Vol. 17 Issue 6, p44, 8p,ISSN 1555-2284
  8. ^ Frey, WH. Crying: the Mystery of Tears. Chapter 14: Do Animals Shed Emotional Tears?pp. 135-139
  9. ^ Crying: discussing its basic reasons and uses Maria Miceli*, Cristiano Castelfranchi
  10. ^ Crying: is it beneficial for one’s well-being? Michelle C.P. Hendriks *, A.J.J.M. Vingerhoets
  11. ^ Crying: is it beneficial for one’s well-being? Michelle C.P. Hendriks *, A.J.J.M. Vingerhoets
  12. ^ http://www.alzheimersinfo.org/index.php?page=grief-and-loss-2 personal page of Frey WH with quote from his book

Further reading[edit]

  • William H. Frey, Muriel Langseth (1985), Crying: The Mystery of Tears . Minneapolis. Winston Press.
  • Lutz, Tom (1999) Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears. New York. W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04756-3.
  • Walter, Chip "Why do we cry?" in Scientific American Mind, Dec 2006, Vol. 17 Issue 6; p. 44.