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( music playing )
Joss: David, can you just tell us your name so we have that in?
David: David Phillips.
And, David, how often do you cry?
- Um... - It depends on the week.
Um, actually, on my way here I cried.
Sometimes when you're in
your most vulnerable situations
and Adele hits, she really hits.
So you know in "Guardians of the Galaxy"
when Groot makes a tree ball around his friends
and Rocket's like, "Groot, no!"
The episode where Ben and Leslie get married.
And I picked up the phone
and I realized she's not there anymore.
I probably cry once every six months, if it's a bad six months.
In 2016, when I received a video message of a moment
that I probably shouldn't have missed.
I remember these things because for three years I kept a record
of every time that I cried.
This is your spreadsheet.
( music playing )
( sniffling )
So you guys all read my spreadsheet.
I've crunched the data a little bit.
So, the majority of these were reactions to media,
TV shows, movies, podcasts, some articles,
and about 37% were things that were actually happening in my personal life.
So, as I've been looking into this,
one of the most interesting facts I've come across is
that a lot of people consider tears to be the only bodily fluid
that doesn't gross us out.
Snot, earwax, spit.
- All the other ones... - All the other ones.
...all gross.
- All gross, but we-- - Yeah.
We don't have that reaction to tears.
Why'd you make the spreadsheet?
Um, when I cry, it feels like I've become a different person.
Because in my normal life, I'm very calm and collected.
I feel like I'm in control.
And I think most of us take for granted
that crying is something that humans do.
But I've never felt like I had a good grasp on why we do it.
I would weirdly find
that crying during swim practice was really therapeutic.
So, I just cry a little bit in my goggles
and then I rest on the wall during the interval,
and then I just literally would empty out the tears,
put on my cap and just keep swimming.
Joss: I have enlisted the help of Taili Wu,
a master stop motion animator,
to help us explain the anatomy of the lacrimal system,
which is what makes us cry.
- It's alive! - ( laughs )
We're gonna bring Alex in and show him how it all works.
All right.
- Are you ready? - Yeah.
Jose: Okay, so the main lacrimal gland is here on the upper
outer part of the eye socket.
That gland releases tears that travel across the eye
washing any irritants away.
And then when we blink, liquid gets pushed
into two tiny holes near the corner of the eye.
And if you look really close, you can see them.
Okay. Can you see it?
- Yes, I can now. - You do?
- It's tiny. Right there. - Yay!
- Can you show me the other one? - Yeah.
- Can you see it? - Yeah.
- You can see the hole. - I actually can see it.
Oh, my God.
So our tears drain into our nose,
and that's why the nose starts running when you cry.
When the lacrimal gland is producing so many tears,
that they can't drain fast enough,
they spill over onto your cheeks.
- And that's crying? - That's crying.
Wow. So it's just, like, this overflow of excess tears.
- Exactly. - Wow.
And we share this anatomy
with a lot of other land animals.
It evolved way before humans did.
And I found a clip on YouTube that I really want to show you.
- ( cat meows ) - Woman: Oh, Buddy.
Man: Oh, Buddy.
Did those onions get to you?
Aww, Buddy.
So this is what happens if you cut onions by a cat,
which is not a particularly nice thing to do.
But what's unique about us is that humans are the only animal
that cries tears of emotion.
- Really? - Yeah.
So there's some point in our evolution
that our lacrimal glands became connected to our emotions,
and I really wanted to know how that happened.
So I called up a Dutch psychologist named Ad Vingerhoets.
- Great name. - Who is-- yes.
Who is considered the world's leading expert in crying.
( crying )
And would that be why we have tears when we yawn as well?
Yeah, yeah.
Okay, so the idea is that
the babies would've been screaming to get care,
that vocal signal,
and then it would've come along with that,
- these tears. - Yes.
( baby crying )
I see. So, maybe there was a survival advantage
to a child who produced more tears
- as opposed to more vocal crying. - Yeah.
Hmm.
So what I'm getting from this is, like,
over time, crying became a way for us to reach out for help.
Now you're saying that tears are essentially
a more subdued way of expressing those same things.
Exactly.
Humans go through this really long childhood
where our brains still have to develop,
because we've got these giant brains.
They take 20, 25 years to finish forming,
and I think that's why this crying persists into adulthood for humans,
because we're vulnerable for longer than other species.
- Hmm. - I mean, kids are in their parents' house
for 18 years at least.
- Um, being-- - Or 25.
Or 25. Whatever, no judgment.
Joss: It was the sad, helpless screams of infants
that likely linked emotions to tears in our ancestors.
As adults, our emotions are more complex,
but they still trigger the same signal.
Um, I was walking to get groceries one day
and, um, I got a call from my grandfather.
He's sort of like another parent to me.
I lived in his house for a while growing up,
and I started crying.
I didn't really let on,
but I was like, "Oh, wow. I really miss--
I really miss you.
I'm really touched
that you're thinking of me and calling me,
even if there's not much for us to say."
One of the things we hear a lot
is that people feel better after they cry
and that crying is cathartic.
I've looked at some of the research on this,
and it seems like even though a lot of people
report that crying makes them feel better,
they haven't been able to find any sort
of physiological mechanism that would explain that.
So, I am on my way to meet with Dr. Meena Dasari.
She is a clinical psychologist.
And I sent her my spreadsheet in advance,
and I'm curious to see what her analysis of it is.
Thank you.
All right.
Do you think crying is healthy?
I think crying is healthy when done in moderation--
when it's used as form of emotional expression,
but in conjunction with other coping strategies.
Crying as a release of emotion, as a way of self-soothing,
and then moving on to different forms,
I do think can be healthy.
- He is so cute. - He's the sweetest.
And they're constantly wearing tie-dye, which is their thing.
- All the time? Look at them. - Yeah.
My nephew was born in 2014
and my niece was born in 2016.
- And you can see those in my spreadsheet, - Absolutely.
feeling like I was really missing some of those key moments--
their births, some of their birthdays.
And then my sister would send me videos of them.
Woman: Say "Happy birthday, Auntie Jossy."
Happy birthday, Auntie Jossy.
All: ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪
And those moments were just like-- oof!
You know, like, I should be there.
- Dasari: You longed for that connection. - I did.
Well, I think that's what I was struck by
when reading your entries
is the big theme to me seemed human connectedness.
And there was sort of two experiences.
One was the expression of that human connectedness,
either love or affection, um, but also the loss.
My mother died when I was 13 years old
and my father didn't quite understand me,
and-- and I didn't understand him.
And so, I cried a lot of sad--
there was a lot of sadness in my life.
"Oh, Father" by Madonna.
♪ You didn't mean to be cruel ♪
I'm thinking of my mother
basically through the whole song.
That last day that I saw my mother alive was Mother's Day.
You know, my inner child's mind, I just feel like...
wounded, and it's always that part
that makes me feel...
like she's wounded, too.
Woman: What happened?
He's sad.
He's sad?
Yeah.
Oh, no.
That made me sad.
He wants his mama.
Oh.
Girl: Say "mama."
So I showed that clip
to the Dutch psychologist Ad Vingerhoets,
and he said that it's actually pretty rare
for a child that young to feel empathy to the point of tears.
But as we get older, it becomes more common to cry
not just for ourselves, but because we see others in pain.
And especially for women.
Across the board, women and girls score higher
on tests of empathy than men and boys.
And that might partly explain why women cry more than men.
In a survey of 37 countries around the world,
women consistently reported crying more often than men.
And for me, crying can feel almost contagious.
Each of these clips is from my spreadsheet,
and they show that there was a consistent trigger
that made me start to tear up.
70% of the time, it was when I saw another person crying.
And I just remember, like, crossing the finish line
and being so emotionally vulnerable
and so emotionally dead, and then the plan was
everyone's just gonna meet me back in my apartment.
And so as I was walking,
one of my-- one of my best friends,
he came and-- and found me.
And again, I started crying as soon as I saw him,
because I was just-- I was just so glad that he was there
and I was so glad, like, somehow he knew that I needed him.
You got me.
It's like if you cry, I'm gonna cry.
That's amazing.
I think the most mysterious tears are the ones
that come when something positive is happening.
So I wanted to see if the team had the same reaction that I did
to wholesome videos from my spreadsheet.
Joss is having us watch some videos that she sent to us.
- Are you about to make me cry? - That depends on you.
So, here's the file. It's a Dropbox link.
I don't really know what to expect.
I think she wants me to cry.
I'm not going to cry.
I'm really scared.
Okay.
( cheering)
Oh, my God.
That's only the second one? That's crazy.
I have goosebumps. Look.
( gasps )
What is it? Singapore or Thailand?
That is too much water for that plant.
Joss: The Thai commercial
where the guy is going around
doing kind things for everyone in his community,
it's funny that that was on my spreadsheet,
because when I started researching this
it turns out that it's a clip
that psychologists use to study
the emotion of being moved.
There's a study that asked
people to track when they started crying
while they were watching that video.
And you can see that around the two minute mark
there's this big jump when people started crying.
- Oh, I know what that is. - What do you think it was?
It's the little girl in her uniform.
- It's gotta be the little girl. - It's gotta be the little girl.
- Yeah, that's the moment. - That's the moment!
That's when the character realizes
that the girl he's been donating money to...
...has begun to go to school.
( music playing )
And this finding comes from a research group
that studies an emotion that they call "kama muta,"
which is a Sanskrit word for "moved by love."
So, if you've ever seen something
that made you sort of reflexively put your hand on your chest
or get chills or goosebumps
or tears, they say those are all symptoms
of this distinct emotion of being moved by love.
So, their findings suggest
that you're likely to experience this emotion
when there's a sudden intensification
of a communal relationship,
when people feel themselves suddenly closer to each other.
And I think of it as kind of like surprise intimacy.
So we think that surprise
is really important aspect of that emotion,
because if you just have this relationship
and there's this really tiny change,
which is just happening over several days, for example,
maybe you would feel a bit happier,
but it wouldn't be this intense feeling
that you would have just in the moment.
What?
Are you serious?
Are you serious?
- Woman: What does that say, babe? - ( crying )
- What is that? - ( crying ) Oh, God.
When people say positive tears, tears of joy,
that always seemed a little bit not right to me.
It just seems like there's something more going on there
than just joy or happiness.
Yeah, we agree that it often
is occurring together with sadness,
and that's basically also the beauty of it, I guess,
because you often have this contrast.
So, imagine, the typical situation
would be if you reunite unexpectedly with--
with a loved one you haven't seen for many years.
So there had to be this kind of loss,
this background that it would occur against.
( screaming ) Oh, my God!
Would you consider yourself someone who cries less often than most people?
I wouldn't know.
Like, I'm not sure how frequently people cry.
- But I would say-- - I could tell you that.
Okay, please do.
So, studies suggest that in Western countries
women cry on average two to four times a month.
- Wow. - And men cry about once every couple of months.
Yeah, I would cry about three times a year.
- Oh, wow. Okay. - Yeah.
- But they're-- they're good ones. - They're good ones.
Well, the good news is that there is a study about non-criers.
And it found that non-criers don't differ
from criers in their well-being.
They don't seem to have more depression or anxiety.
So this notion that crying is necessary for mental health,
that it's a necessary release, that doesn't seem to be true.
The director of the debate team
I was on in college passed away.
And all the alums came back for a funeral,
and everybody was crying and I noticed that I was not.
And it was the first funeral I'd been to,
and I realized that that was different.
And I felt like I had to take measures
to signal to others that I was still affected by it
because I wasn't showing the most obvious marker.
( music playing )
Joss: There was this survey back in the late '90s
that asked a bunch of countries around the world
how often the people there cry.
And what they expected to find was that
the countries that had lower standard of living,
the countries where they rated themselves with lower well-being
and the countries with higher depression rates
would be the ones that cried more.
But that's not what they found.
The dark blue countries are the countries
that reported crying the most frequently.
And the light green are the ones that reported crying the least.
So you see here, we have three countries in Africa.
We have Nepal.
These are countries where the researchers would've assumed
that the people there would have objectively
more reasons for crying.
But what they found was that it was the happier,
wealthier countries that cried more.
And the variables that correlated with crying frequency
were things like the level of civil rights,
the level of democracy, extroversion, and individualism.
And so what the studies suggest is that crying,
at least on the international level,
isn't about how much distress a population feels.
Rather it's about how much that population feels
they have the freedom of emotional expression.
I think there's a special comfort in crying publicly.
It's nice to be around other people
and know crying is a part of your day
just like your commute or your lunch break.
It's just, oh, it's cry time.
It's cry o'clock.
( music playing )
Crying evolved as a signal to others
that we need their help in order to survive.
But for adults, crying can be a message to ourselves,
if we pay attention.
I think about him a lot these days.
He's getting older, I'm getting older,
and, you know, time is not stopping for anybody.
It's a matter of going through life's atrocities for me
and-- and yet I came out on the bright side.
Your tears are a signal that you're seeing something important to you,
and the memories and values
that start pouring out of your eyes?
They can be surprising.
There are a lot of things that push my buttons.
But what's actually coming out
could've been building up for years.
Dr. Vingerhoets had a neat way of putting it.
He said, "Apparently..."
( music playing )
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Why Do We Cry? - Glad You Asked S1

51 Folder Collection
呂嘉濠 published on January 19, 2020
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