Pretty much any negative event can set me off - sad music, an SPCA commercial, a stubbed toe, square bicycle tires.
But I also cry when I'm happy, and really excited, and when the sun is excessively bright. So what gives? And why are there (truly oddball) people out there who never cry at all?
I decided to try to find out. And after extensive research (i.e. Googling the word "crying"), I now know the following facts about weeping:
- There are three kinds of tears: basal, reflex and emotional. Basal tears make up the liquid that is always in our eyes and keeps them from drying out. Reflex tears protect the eye from irritants such as smoke, onions and blowing dust. Emotional tears correlate with strong emotions, both negative and positive.
- Humans are the only beings on the planet that shed emotional tears. Some say that elephants and gorillas do too, but that has yet to be proven.
- Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that inhibits the ability to produce tears.
- One theory on tears of sadness is that when our ancestors cremated their loved ones, they were overcome by emotions, as well as the smoke that got in their eyes. Death and tears were then forever connected in our psyches.
- There are chemicals in emotional tears that aren't found in other tears. This suggests that crying can be a means of releasing excess toxins from the body that build up in times of stress, but research on this theory is limited.
- It’s easier to prevent a bout of crying than to stop it once it's under way. Crying causes more crying.
- Women cry roughly four times as often as men.
And what about you? Are you a crier, or a stoic? What sets you off? Let me know in the comments.