Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A good cry? Not so fast

Today's Science Times reports on research challenging the notion that crying is always cathartic. Jonathan Rottenberg, psychologist, and his colleagues, observed that the well researched notion that most of us remember more of the good and less of the bad over time holds true for crying. The anger or shame experienced with the crying maybe forgotten, leaving only a memory of relief. Therapist Judith Kay Nelson contends that a pattern concerning the relationship to crying is laid down in childhood.
"Crying, for a child, is a way to beckon the caregiver, to maintain proximity and use the caregiver to regulate mood or negative arousal...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."
Both the details of the cry and the individual crier influence the effect. Poor Oedipus. It was all for nought. Forget the Greeks, next time you're feeling down, go for the Marx Brothers.

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