General Question

Tennis5tar's avatar

Why is crying an automatic respose to being upset?

Asked by Tennis5tar (1255 points ) June 19th, 2007

What is it that actually causes the tear-ducts to activate?

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8 Answers

figbash's avatar

I think there are multiple thoughts on this, but what I've heard is that that "emotional" tears actually contain hormones and proteins. During periods of emotional stress, your body triggers crying to to lower hormone levels in the body and fight off an inbalance that would result in depression.

girlfriday's avatar

huh. i haven't heard anything about hormones or proteins, but i have heard that emotional expressions are a vital form of social communication and social bonding. they help tell us how to behave toward one another and how to be safe. some emotions, like sadness, encourage sympathy from others and encourage approach by others, some emotions like disgust, encourage avoidance. the reactions themselves are probably triggered in the brain stem, resulting in things like tears. our attempt to control our emotions is likely mediated through the cortex.

Tennis5tar's avatar

Thank you!

lifeflame's avatar

You know, I have this distinct memory when I was young (i must have been 5 or so) and watching my father trip and fall. I distinctly remember wondering why he didn’t cry, and realising that when one falls, one doesn’t have to cry automatically. Bizarre, eh?

Tennis5tar's avatar

I was talking about being emotionally upset, rather than hurt physically.

lifeflame's avatar

Sure, but what is interesting for me (I don’t know whether this is the case for you) is the relationship between reflex and response; body and emotion.

Why do people cry automatically? Do they have to cry automatically? Do some people learn not to cry automatically? Do others cry automatically because they are reinforced to do so (attention, sympathy, etc)?
.. these are great questions which your question provoked for me.

Tennis5tar's avatar

That is very interesting to think about. I shall have to ponder over those… Thank you.

emeraldisles's avatar

Because it hurts so bad!

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