Monday, June 11, 2012

Can You Cry Without Tears?

Image found here. 

Here's a Monday morning question for y'all to ponder:

Does the inability to make tears, and thus cry, impact sjoggies' emotions?

What do you think? Here's how the authors of a recent study phrased their study focus:
The hampered ability to cry in patients with Sjögren's syndrome may affect their ways of dealing with emotions. The aim of this study was to examine differences in emotion processing and regulation between people with and without Sjögren's syndrome and correlations of emotion processing and regulation with mental well-being.
I'm going to let you think about that a bit before I tell you the results of their study and provide the link.

Here's my thoughts:

First of all, I understand that these study authors, whose area of expertise is mental health, would want to explore any and all factors that may give us clues to how our bodies regulate emotions. But......I seriously doubt that my emotions are dictated by the amount of oils and enzymes and water secreted by my lacrimal glands.

I think the researchers put the cart before the horse here. I don't doubt for a moment that it is my emotions that dictate whether or not my lacrimal glands would kick into production. I think perhaps these researchers should review their anatomy and physiology in respect to tear production. Remember, guys? There's three types of tears, and only one is related to emotion:
The third type of tears is emotional tears. It all starts in the cerebrum where sadness is registered. The endocrine system is then triggered to release hormones to the ocular area, which then causes tears to form. Emotional tears are common among people who see Bambi's mother die or who suffer personal losses.
People: CEREBRUM. Anatomy and physiology 101. Review.

Dang. I HATE the movie Bambi.....sob.

(Extra credit points for anyone who can identify the other two types of tears.)

Although I have to admit that the concept of this study is somewhat interesting, it didn't take long for me to come to my own conclusion. And, after thinking about it, the fact that the study actually was granted funding and conducted seems to me just another indication of the persistence of the archaic notion that some of the systemic symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome are "all in your head". Or that a sjoggie struggling with a life-altering disease is actually deficient in "emotion processing and regulation" of their mental health and well-being. Personally, I think the overwhelming majority of sjoggies deal with the major changes in their health and lives in an amazingly competent and normal manner; and they process and regulate their emotions just fine, given the circumstances, thank you very much.

.:Indignant sniff:.

Not surprisingly, here's the results of the study:
This study indicates that, except for selected patients, processing and regulation of emotions is not a key therapeutic issue for the majority of patients with Sjögren's syndrome.
Well, DUH.

I know...... I'm being all touchy and cranky about this subject, and have probably overreacted. Perhaps my processing and regulation of emotion is actually a key therapeutic issue for me after all.

 Go read it and decide for yourself:

Dealing with emotions when the ability to cry is hampered: emotion processing and regulation in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome.

Van Leeuwen N, Bossema ER, Van Middendorp H, Kruize AA, Bootsma H, Bijlsma JW, Geenen R.

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, & Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


AutoimmuneGal said...

I agree with your assessment here about the study. It seems that there is unfortunately still bias that there is a psychological component to autoimmune disease. I think that this is partially related to the fact that more women have autoimmune diseases. I would prefer research money to go to more worthwhile studies that really look for and test new treatments. Thanks sharing this one though it did get me a little revved up ;).

Anonymous said...

You also brought to light something us Sjoggies can be grateful see, I've always been the type to cry at the drop of a hat whenever my hormones are raging, or like you, when I think about Bambi's mother, but lately I've noticed that I'm not tearing up as much when I get a little "verklempt". So I'm hoping that means that I don't look like a blubbering idiot every time I watch some sappy coffee commercial or attend a wedding of someone I hardly more worrying about ruining the makeup! Thanks once again for giving us great information in such an entertaining way. I look forward to reading your blog just as much as I used to look forward to reading the Sunday comics when I was a little girl.

Gill said...

The study is fataly flawed in its area of study, it should be 'Does the world relate differently to a person who does not cry in circumstances when tears would be expected'. The world does relate differently, I think that the person/s who thought this one up perceived the Sjgren's person wrongly. Secondly, I may not flood buckets but when i feel emotion my eyes burn inwardly as though welling up with pressure, I wish i could still cry. Thirdly, the study was Dutch, they think differently, many preceive tears as a sign of weakness, one of the last occasions I could cry was at a funeral in Rotterdam, I rest my case. To the English the Dutch can sometimes be seen very cold and unemotional. Emotion and perception of emotion has different signifiers in different cultures and countries.

Amy Junod said...

Scream heard all the way from little ol' me in Texas...ARGH! Someone was paid grant money for this?!

Hope you're taking it easy and taking your timeouts like good Julia and not BICJ.

Julia Oleinik said...

Wow, great comments!

Oh, and Amy? BICJ thinks that Pinky should attend my son's wedding on Saturday. Needless to say, she's SO out of control....

Amy Junod said...

Pinky must feel so slighted.
He seems like the type to skip the ceremony and head straight to the reception. He'll probably make an appearance at some point. It's just his style.