Posted by Neharika Sabharwal on November 12, 2008

Aristotle theorized that crying ‘cleanses the mind’ of suppressed sentiments by a process called catharsis. It is the reduction of distress by releasing the pent up emotions.

There is scientific evidence that crying may be healthy for you. Tears produced by emotional crying may be a way the body disposes off toxic substances. As a result of this kind of information, psychologists are doing research to discover what the content and purpose of tears may be.

Dr William Frey, a biochemist, studying tears for many years talks about emotionally induced tears. Besides the sentimental reasons, there are a myriad of eye irritants from onions to ragweed to smoke that cause eyes to tear.

Comparing the two, he discovered that tears caused by emotional stimuli contained more protein, manganese, potassium and prolactin, than those resulting from irritants. Manganese is an essential nutrient. Too little of it can lead to slow blood clotting, skin problems and can lower cholesterol levels. Potassium helps in the working of nerves, muscle control and regulating blood pressure. Prolactin combats stress and is vital for the immune systemdefine. Asthma attacks, long thought to be largely psychosomatic, may cease as a result of crying.

According to him, induced tears contain high levels of cortisal, a hormone released during stressful situations. He believes that release of toxic elements from our bodies via tears supports our overall well being.

Having understood the healing power of tears, psychologists encourage people to let them flow freely, unobstructed by any sensors that may shut them off. The research on psychoactive substances in tears is under way. There is reason to believe that tears may be important in the maintenance of physical health and emotional balance.

Studies show that skin sensitivity increases during and after crying, and breathing deepens - both very healthy signs. The shedding of tears is letting go of that which has been too much for the body to sustain. The natural outpouring, a sign of distress, improves social support and reduces aggression.

Crying is the body’s innate healing mechanism for coping with stress and loss. Researchers of the University of South Florida declared, “It is possible that crying is both an arousing distress signal and a means to restore psychological and physiological balance.”

People report that a good cry makes them feel better and more at peace. Such a positive emotion is worth the red eyes and puffy nose. Statistics reveal that it improves the mood of 88.8 percent with only 8.4 percent feeling worse.

Several countries are involved in research on the therapeutic effects of crying. Psychologists of the University of Florida are using scans to locate the areas of brain involved in crying. The Tilberg University of Netherlands is studying the social impact of tears and the Bunka University of Japan is delving into its impact on health values.

William Frey, in his book ‘Crying the Mystery of Tears’ says “It is no accident that crying has survived evolutionary pressures. Humans are the only animals to evolve this ability to shed tears in response to emotional stress, and it is likely that crying survived the pressures of natural selection because it has some survival value.”

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