Why Only Humans Weep: Unravelling the Mysteries of Tears

Author(s): Ad Vingerhoets


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.


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Dr. Ad Vingerhoets is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands. He published over 300 articles on stress, emotions, and quality of life in scientific journals and co-authored/ edited 17 books. His work on phenomena as crying, homesickness, sentiments, and 'leisure sickness' aroused much interest in the (inter)national popular media.

1. Why Only Humans Weep: Introduction to the theme ; 2. The Human Nature of Crying ; 3. Crying and Adaptation: The hardware ; 4. Crying over the Lifespan ; 5. The Antecedents and Context of Crying ; 6. The Intra-individual Effects of Crying ; 7. The Social Effects of Tears ; 8. Culture and Crying ; 9. Why Some People Cry More Often than Others ; 10. Male and Female Tears ; 11. Crying and Health ; 12. Too many tears... ; 13. A Cultural Historical Perspective of Tears ; 14. Epilogue

General Fields

  • : 9780198570240
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : January 2013
  • : 247mm X 187mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : February 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Ad Vingerhoets
  • : Hardback
  • : 152.4
  • : 304