Why Humans Like to Cry: Tragedy, Evolution, and the Brain

Paperback | August 8, 2014

byMichael Trimble

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Human beings are the only species to have evolved the trait of emotional crying. We weep at tragedies in our lives and in those of others - remarkably even when they are fictional characters in film, opera, music, novels, and theatre. Why have we developed art forms - most powerfully, music -which move us to sadness and tears? This question forms the backdrop to Michael Trimble's discussion of emotional crying, its physiology, and its evolutionary implications. His exploration examines the connections with other distinctively human features: the development of language, self-consciousness, religious practices, and empathy. Neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the brain have uncovered unique human characteristics; mirror neurones, for example, explain why weunconsciously imitate actions and behaviour. Whereas Nietzsche argued that artistic tragedy was born with the ancient Greeks, Trimble places its origins far earlier. His neurophysiological and evolutionary insights shed fascinating light onto this enigmatic part of our humanity.

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Human beings are the only species to have evolved the trait of emotional crying. We weep at tragedies in our lives and in those of others - remarkably even when they are fictional characters in film, opera, music, novels, and theatre. Why have we developed art forms - most powerfully, music -which move us to sadness and tears? This que...

Michael Trimble is emeritus professor of Behavioural Neurology at the Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London. His research for many years has been on the behavioural consequences of neurological disorders, especially epilepsy and movement disorders. He has a lifelong research interest in neuroanatomy, hence his ability to explor...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.01 inPublished:August 8, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198713495

ISBN - 13:9780198713494

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Crying3. The Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology of Crying4. Evolution5. Tragedy and Tears6. Tearful Logic7. Why Do We Get Pleasure from Crying at the Theatre?Appendix 1: NeuroanatomyAppendix 2: Glossary of termsNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Fascinating volume ... an insightful account ... offers a profound glimpse into the human heart as well as deep insight into the role of art in our lives." --Guardian