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Humans are unique in shedding tears of sorrow. We do not just cry over our own problems: we seek out sad stories, go to film and the theatre to see Tragedies, and weep in response to music. What led humans to develop such a powerful social signal as tears, and to cultivate great forms of art which have the capacity to arouse us emotionally? Friedrich Nietzsche argued that Dionysian drives and music were essential to the development of Tragedy. Here, the neuropsychiatrist Michael Trimble, using insights from modern neuroscience and evolutionary biology, attempts to understand this fascinating and unique aspect of human nature--Book jacket.
Human beings are the only species to have evolved the trait of emotional crying. We weep at tragedies in our lives and in those of others - remarkably even when they are fictional characters in film, opera, music, novels, and theatre. Why have we developed art forms - most powerfully, music - which move us to sadness and tears? This question forms the backdrop to Michael Trimble's discussion of emotional crying, its physiology, and its evolutionary implications. His exploration examines the connections with other distinctively human features: the development of language, self-consciousness, religious practices, and empathy. Neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the brain have uncovered unique human characteristics; mirror neurones, for example, explain why we unconsciously imitate actions and behaviour. Whereas Nietzsche argued that artistic tragedy was born with the ancient Greeks, Trimble places its origins far earlier. His neurophysiological and evolutionary insights shed fascinating light onto this enigmatic part of our humanity.
Humans are unique in shedding tears of sorrow. We do not just cry over our own problems: we seek out sad stories, go to film and the theatre to see Tragedies, and weep in response to music. What led humans to develop such a powerful social signal as tears, and to cultivate great forms of art which have the capacity to arouse us emotionally? Friedrich Nietzsche argued that Dionysian drives and music were essential to the development of Tragedy. Here, the neuropsychiatrist Michael Trimble, using insights from modern neuroscience and evolutionary biology, attempts to understand this fascinating and unique aspect of human nature--Book jacket.
Crying has fascinated mankind for millenia. Since ancient times, we have known that emotional tears are a unique human characteristic. Unsurprisingly, over hundreds of years, scholars from different backgrounds have speculated about the origin and functions of human tears. According to Charles Darwin, tears fulfilled no adaptive function. And yet, this seems in sharp contrast to statements in the popular media about the significance of crying. Crying is thought to bring relief and is considered healthy - and withholding tears unhealthy. In addition, tears have been said to inhibit aggression in assaulters and to promote social bonding. Perhaps that could explain why tears have been so important in our evolution. Ad Vingerhoets is one of the few scientists in the world to have studied crying. He examines in Why only humans weep which claims about crying are scientifically tenable - which are fact and which are fiction? Though a psychologist, he doesn't just restrict himself to the current psychological literature, but also explores work in evolutionary biology, neurosciences, theology, art, history, and anthropology to provide an integrated perspective on this complex phenomenon. Written throughout in an academically accessible style, this book is groundbreaking in contributing to a modern scientific understanding of crying. It will have broad appeal to psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers, biologists, and anthropologists.
Describes research into the psychological and biochemical aspects of crying and examines the role of crying in emotional health
A natural and cultural history of crying probes this phenomenon from every angle, using the work of philosophers, poets, scholars, scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists to trace the changing meaning of tears throughout the years. Reprint.
Explores the latest beliefs about why people tell stories and what stories reveal about human nature, offering insights into such related topics as universal themes and what it means to have a storytelling brain.

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