Tears are one of our expressions of emotions. Not only do tears relieve emotions, they also reduce stress. Crying to draw public attention is a common phenomenon. During shower weeping one weeps inordinately, shedding floods of tears. During the stream weeping quiet streams trickle down the cheek. Tears often signal vulnerability. Tears signal submission and promotion of trust. It promotes a feeling of sympathy and unity in associates. Besides helplessness and loss, the factors that promote crying include personal conflict, anger, rejection, feeling of inadequacy, self-pity, joy, and the emotions produced by music and films. It is a process like exhaling, urinating, defecating and sweating.
Tears have healthy as well as pathological implications. Tears release potentially toxic substances from the body. They act as a safety valve by releasing excess stress hormones. Stress often precedes a good cry. The sense of calm is often felt afterward, due to hormonal release. Our traumatic memories need to be flushed out of the psyche. Crying is one way of getting rid of such memories. Tears also have hysterical symptoms. Confusion and sleeplessness may result in bouts of tears that may last for hours. There is a view that says that weeping serves no purpose other than to get rid of 'increased cerebral excitation’, and to allow the excitation to 'flow away’.
Emotional tears differ from onion tears. The 'crocodile tears' don't have the biochemical or psychic weight of the deep emotional ones. Researchers have found, in the majority of cases, improvements in the mood followed a bout of crying. Without a context, tears mean nothing, believed Charles Darwin. Tears assume meaning only when they have a particular mental, social and narrative context. Darwin listed three reasons for the secretion of tears. “The primary function of the secretion of tears, with some mucus, is to lubricate the surface of the eye, and a secondary one, as some believe, is to keep the nostrils damp, so that the inhaled air may be moist, and likewise to favour the power of smelling. But another and at least equally important function of tears is to wash out particles of dust or other minute objects which may get into the eyes.”
Tears have a history as old as human history. “We came out of the ocean more than 400 million years ago, but we never completely left the sea water behind. We still find it in our blood, sweat and tears,” is how Fritzoff Capra sums up human history.