It is Katies birthday today, her first since we have been married. Ater handing her the sack loads of cards and handing over her birthday gifts, she tootled off to work…
The closeness between us made me reflect on our time together and for some strange reason, I just kept thinking back to all the times I nearly cried or have cried with her… I mean, I even blogged about me blubbing in front of the TV coverage of the paralympics, so inspired and in awe I was.
I cried while we practiced our wedding vows… When we’ve watched films… Even in front of TV shows that are so cheesy, I know I shouldn’t… Blimey, my Dad and Granddad would think I was very soppy, my football pals would likely pull my leg, my favourite song by The Cure was ‘Boys Don’t Cry‘ … What is it all about? Do you cry much? Do you allow yourself to? Let me go into this in some more depth…
Lets be honest, nearly all of us cry sometimes…I have clients that hold it in… But when they let it out… Boy do they ever let it out… What is it that actually makes us cry? How often we do it? How often is healthy or how often is just wrong? I guess these answers vary from person to person… I also guess that how crying makes us feel surely varies massively from person to person.
I searched for research on and about crying and there is surprisingly little, though there is a recent piece just cited here at science direct website. Considering we have such attitudes and responses to the subject of crying, we are prone to it and all are capable of it, it really is an under-researched aspect of human behaviour.
The team conducting the piece of research mentioned asked 196 adult Dutch women (aged between 17 and 84 years) to answer questions about their personalities, their mental health, their propensity for crying and how crying made them feel:
Consistent with past research, people who reported being more neurotic, extravert and/or empathic tended to cry more often and more easily. The research was correlational, so it’s not clear if having these personality types leads to more crying, or if crying more contributes to these personality types. Perhaps surprisingly, mental health, in terms of reported depression, anxiety and so forth, was not associated with how often or easily people said they cried.
When it came to the effects of crying, the pattern was the other way round. Aspects of personality were not associated with how the participants said crying made them feel, but mental health was. While the majority of the participants (88.8 per cent) said that crying brought them relief, a minority, especially those with depression, anxiety, anhedonia (a loss of the ability to experience pleasure), and/or alexithymia (a difficulty expressing or processing emotions), said that crying left them feeling worse or just the same.
The researchers said more work was needed to find out why crying brings relief to some people but not others. “Currently there is only anecdotal evidence that learning how to cry and how to derive positive effects from it could help people who are having difficulty expressing sadness or crying,” they wrote.
As someone who cries more often and more eaisly than most, I’ll put myself down as extravert and/or empathic rather than neurotic — for the public record! … Maybe I am making up for those years when I firmly believed that it was just not something a man did…