Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, 2001 - Psychology - 352 pages
This provocative and indispensable book provides a natural and cultural history of our most mysterious and complex human function: our ability to shed tears. All humans, and only humans, weep. Tears are sometimes considered pleasurable, sometimes dangerous, mysterious, deceptive, or profound. Tears of happiness, tears of joy, the proud tears of a parent, tears of mourning, tears of laughter, tears of defeat --what do they have in common? Why is it that at times of victory, success, love, reunion, and celebration the outward signs of our emotions are identical to those of our most profound experiences of loss? Why We Cry looks at the many different ways people have understood weeping, from the earliest known representation of tears in the fourteenth century B.C. through the latest neurophysiological research. Despite our most common romantic assumptions, what this brilliant book tells us is that tears are never pure, they are never simple.
 

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User Review  - RajivC - LibraryThing

I picked up this book from the library, and approached it with a lot of hope. However, while I enjoyed the many examples of tears that have littered the books of history, there was not too much about ... Read full review

Crying: the natural and cultural history of tears

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Crying from emotion is perhaps the only activity that is uniquely human, yet its meaning is complex, sometimes signifying weakness and deceit and other times sincerity and strength. Lutz (English ... Read full review

Contents

List of Illustrations
13
Why Tears?
17
Tears of Pleasure Tears of Grace and the Weeping Hero
31
The Crying Body
67
The Psychology of Tears
115
Men and Women Infants and Children
151
Cultures of Mourning
193
Tears of Revenge Seduction Escape and Empathy
225
Fictional Tears
251
The End of Tears
287
References
305
Index
339
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About the author (2001)

Tom Lutz lives in Los Angeles and Iowa City, where he teaches at the University of Iowa. He is the author of American Nervousness, 1903: A History of Nervous Illness at the Turn of the Century.

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