Why do humans cry? In a sense the answer is easy. We cry because of a child’s accomplishments. Because of a friend’s death. Because of a news story. Because of a piece of music. We cry in joy, grief, anguish, sorrow, frustration. Yet the real question is not why we cry, but rather what purpose our tears serve.
One of the earliest scientific theories concerning the purpose of tears was offered by Charles Darwin, who believed that tears were merely the result of an accidental stimulation of the lacrimal (ortear-producing) glands that took place when the muscles around the eyes contracted during periods of strong emotion. Since then, other theories have been proposed, including the notion that tears are a form of communication (serving to attract attention and elict support) and that tears, which contain anti-bacterial properties and which drain into the nose when they don’t simply evaporate or roll down the cheeks, help protect the upper respiratory tract from infection.