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Real Men Cry

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:47pm
Do real men cry? Before you shed a tear or two, read this.

Tom Lutz, Ph.D., an associate professor of English at the University of Iowa and author of Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears, said that crying in public was pretty normal, even for men. He said that “through most of history, tearlessness has not been the standard of manliness.”

Lutz wrote that heroic epics from Greek times through the Middle Ages are soggy with weeping of all sorts. When Roland, the most famous warrior of medieval France died, 20,000 other knights wept so profusely they fainted and fell from their horses. Long before that, the Greek warrior Odysseus cries in almost every chapter of Homer's Iliad while St. Francis of Assisi was said to have been blinded by weeping.

For those who look to religion and the Bible for guidance, a wonderful role model for a man unafraid to cry is Jesus. It was written that when Jesus heard of the death of his friend Lazarus, he wept with sorrow. Even with his faith that his friend could be reborn, Christ felt able to share in the suffering of others and cry openly.

Until the Industrial Revolution in the late 18 th and early 19 th centuries came. According to Lutz, the industrial age needed diligent, not emotional, workers. Crying was then delegated to privacy, behind closed doors. Children learned that weeping itself was the problem and not the result of a problem. People everywhere became more uncomfortable with public tears.

Since then social stigma were attached to crying in public. It is considered a sign of weakness, vulnerability, desperation, or worse for men, a sign of femininity.

Types and Benefits of Tears

There are three types of tears: continuous tears, which stop our eyes drying up; reflex tears, caused by irritants such as smoke; and emotional tears (or "psychogenic lachrymations", the medical term). The emotion need not be sadness; people shed emotional tears out of frustration, anger, relief, sometimes even in an aesthetic experience such as the birth of a child or receiving an unexpected gift.

What most people are not aware of is that new scientific studies actually prove that tears caused from 'emotional crying' carry toxins not normally found in the tear created to simply moisten the eye, like in cutting onions. William FreyII, Ph.D., biochemist and tear expert of the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota and author of “ Crying: The Mystery of Tears”, compared the normal moisturizing tear with the tear caused by emotion and found that stressful tears contained ACTH or adrenocorticotrophic hormone. ACTH is a hormone associated with high blood pressure, heart problems, peptic ulsers and other physical conditions closely related to stress.

Tears are secreted through a duct, a process much like urination or exhalation. Frey believes that like these other processes, shedding emotional tears may be involved in removing waste products or toxic substances from the body. Perhaps that is why so many people report feeling better after crying.

Research has proven that emotions help create illness in the body and perhaps the tears help remove the poisons that make us sick. Crying is a natural, healthy way to help deal with emotions and may be healthy. But don’t overdo it too, because crying over everything that happens in life may indicate a lack coping skills and can even indicate a medical problem.

So guys, cry if you have to, whether you do it in public or in the comfort of your private space.

Emo cartoons taken from the Internet.

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