Is crying a sign of weakness?
The waterworks in the human body has been a mysterious science for ages. What triggers the downpour of tears when we are happy or sad? Why are women more at ease with the art of crying and of course better at it than men? Why do we cry at all? These and many questions have riddled the human mind and have been the topic of many a discussion. Regardless there is more to it than meets the eye. To know more about the science of crying read on…
The science of shedding tears
Big boys don’t cry. Really? Well for generations tears have been synonymous with being feminine and touchy. While some cultures encourage an open display of the waterworks, there are cultures which frown down upon a public display of sadness and definitely tears.
Regardless, did you know that every one of us, whether young or old, man or woman cries every second of our life? No, this is not philosophy but a fact of science. The lacrimal gland located in the outer part of the upper eye secretes an antibacterial fluid. This fluid is the infamous “tear”. Regardless, tears serve the important function of lubricating the eye surface every time we blink.
There is a lot of differing opinions about the need to cry in humans. While some people attribute it to the need to release of emotions, others feel that crying is a tool of social interaction, it positively influences humans to bond with each other and is thus a vital tool to the mother of all sciences: The art of survival.
Crying is a trigger for gathering social support. As such it may help in improving your social cohesion with others. No wonder the drama queens of the family and in the classroom are so popular.
With children, of course, the intention is different. Infants cry because that is the only means of communication they know. They do this to get the attention of their parents and have their needs met.
Why do women cry more than men?
Now, this is one fact that might not put the firebrand feminist at ease. But the fact is that women do cry more than women. An average woman may cry up to 5times more than her male counterpart.
There is a scientific reason behind this. The hormone prolactin is the agent responsible for promoting those tears. Science says that the hormone is found to be at a higher level in women. On the other hand testosterone present in men is supposed to dampen the crying act.
The types of tears
Did you know that there are different types of tears and that they differ in their composition? No, I didn’t mean the glycerin induced, the soap opera induced and the ones meant to impress your boyfriend. Those need some extra research. As of now, we know that tears are of 3 types: basal tears, reflex tears and emotional tears.
Basal Tears: These are always present in the eye and serve the important function of lubricating the eye. Lysozyme, an anti-bacterial agent present in tears protects the eye from bacterial infection as the eye is a moist environment. The absence of this could possibly lead to blindness due to persistent bacterial infection.
Reflex tears: These protect the eyes from irritants like smoke, duct, onions, wind etc.
Emotional tears: These contain a natural painkiller which works to produce a calming effect on the individual. Hormones prolactin, adrenocorticotropic and leucine enkephalin all act as painkillers and are produced when the body is under stress.
Why cry at all?
Are you one of those who feels better after you bawl your heart out. Well, then you are not alone. Scientists believe that crying helps to flush out negative toxins from the body.
Crying helps to reduce stress, as the action releases our natural painkillers. As such these help to relieve the body from stress-related diseases such as heart attacks, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, etc.
No More Tears …
More likely than not, this adage could work only on a baby shampoo ad. Tears are vital to our well-being and emotional health. Regardless of culture, age and gender tears could be that one stress relief mechanism which your body wants you to use to get through the drudgery that life slaps on you.
Of course, too much of tears will not get you anywhere. Needless to say, people tend to dissociate with a person who chooses every occasion available to display her emotions in public. As they say: Let tears be the water to growth.