logo

02 August 2017

Scientists say there’s a physical reason

Let those tears flow.

PRINCE Harry was talking about his mum recently in a documentary that aired on Channel 7, when he made a startling admission.

He had only shed tears about his mother’s death twice in the twenty years since her passing.

“The first time I cried was at the funeral and only since then maybe once.

“People deal with grief in different ways, and my way of dealing with it was by just basically shutting it out, locking it out,” Harry said.

Prince Harry’s admission begs the wider question: Why DO men cry less than women?

Professor Ad Vingerhoets conducted some research in Holland to better understand human tears. In this study he touched on the ratio of male to female tears.

His findings were that women cry between 30 and 64 times a year, and men only cry between six and 17 times each year (which is still a lot more than Harry).

Psychologist Georgia Ray explains there are some very clear sociological and physiological reasons for men shedding less tears than women.

“Men cry less than women because of reasons linked to both nature and nurture,” she says.

“Men have significantly lower levels of prolactin (a hormone found in emotional tears) compared with women.”

So, the physiological explanation is hormone related. But there’s an obvious cultural reason too.

“Societal stereotypes and expectations discourage men from displaying emotional tears,” Ray says.

In short, men have LESS of the hormone that enables humans to cry emotional tears, and when they do, society judges them for it.

Don’t judge a man for his tears. He overcame a lot to get them.

Don’t judge a man for his tears. He overcame a lot to get them.Source:istock

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF CRYING?

Human tears come from a myriad of reasons — sadness, anger, guilt, happiness, relief, remorse, gratitude. They’re complex and often, they spontaneously combust.

But while we know what brings on tears, scientists have been puzzling for centuries about why crying is a useful human phenomenon. Apart from giving your eyes a good old wash out, what’s the point?

Charles Darwin decided in 1872 that tears actually serve no purpose.

“We must look at weeping as an incidental result, as purposeless as the secretion of tears from a blow outside the eye.” he said.

A dozen decades later Professor Vingerhoets strongly disputed this theory. He says Darwin is “wrong” but is yet to expand his small study to provide alternative evidence.

A commonly known theory comes from Dr William Frey who says that crying is part the body’s natural release of toxins. Frey suggests emotional tears “carry more protein” than non emotional tears and this instigates a healing process for humans.

Vingerhoets has tried to replicate Fey’s studies a couple of times and failed — so he believes this reasoning is invalid.

Dr Nick Knight in London has a PhD in human performance and believes there is a simple explanation for emotional tears. He claims your emotional response to events originates in your limbic system which is hard wired to your nervous system. When you feel like crying, your emotions alert your nervous system which instructs your tears to flow.

So there you have it, we know that men definitely cry less than women but we don’t know exactly why we all cry in the first place.

It’s a bit of a mystery — in the interim, I suggest on with the tissues and just let it all out.

Please follow and like us:

Share
#

Write a comment

8+5 = ?