Wednesday, February 4, 2009

N.Y. Times: Crying

The Muddled Tracks of All Those Tears
Crying as Catharsis Isn't Always the Case
(NY Times, 2/4)
This passage caught my eye...
People who are confused about the sources of their own emotions — a condition that in the extreme is called alexithymia — also tend to report little benefit from a burst of tears, studies have found. This makes some sense. One purpose of crying may be to block thinking, to effectively seal off the flood of unanswerable questions that come after any major loss, the better to clarify those that are most important or most practical. If this psychological system is already clunky, a fire shower of tears is not likely to improve it.
Alexithymia is a very common ailment!

I was also intrigued by this...
“Crying, for a child, is a way to beckon the caregiver, to maintain proximity and use the caregiver to regulate mood or negative arousal,” Dr. Nelson said in a phone interview. Those who grow up unsure of when or whether that soothing is available can, as adults, get stuck in what she calls protest crying — the child’s helpless squall for someone to fix the problem, undo the loss.

“You can’t work through grief if you’re stuck in protest crying, which is all about fixing it, fixing the loss,” Dr. Nelson said. “And in therapy — as in close relationships — protest crying is very hard to soothe, because you can’t do anything right, you can’t undo the loss. On the other hand, sad crying that is an appeal for comfort from a loved one is a path to closeness and healing.

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