Forget what “they” say–go ahead and have a good cry

For a variety of reasons, some personal…some “otheral” , I have had more than usual occasions to cry this year. It has been really strange because, as you know, men aren’t supposed to. However, William Frey, a biochemist who does double duty as a researcher and a professor has spent a good deal of his time asking why people cry and he gave me a rationale. His fascination with this subject led him to write a book entitled “Crying: The Mystery of Tears.” In this book he wanted to answer some basic questions such as why men cry less than women, how humans relieve themselves of stress, and what tears can teach us. One thing he learned was that people generally feel better after crying which may suggest a release of chemicals that build up during stress. Further work turned up an interesting mix of chemicals in human tears. Manganese, enkephalins, and prolactins somehow work together to promote feeling better, but there is no explanation of why men and women cry differently. Apparently men don’t seem to feel any better nor do they cry as often as women do. In fact, most men (me included) are ashamed to be seen crying. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is the preponderance of tear ducts in the eyelids of women. Another may be societal pressures that are placed upon males in general to adopt and adhere to macho stereotypes. Whatever the reason, we must not, according to Frey, disallow this very important stress-reducing activity or minimize its effectiveness. I feel better already.(cf Go Ahead–Cry! by Micheal Ryan; William Frey, Crying: The Mystery of Tears, Winston Press, Texas, 1977. )


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