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February 2, 1990

The Tears of the Physician

Author Affiliations

Dry Eye and Tear Research Center St Paul, Minn

Dry Eye and Tear Research Center St Paul, Minn

JAMA. 1990;263(5):661-662. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440050055028

To the Editor.—  Dr Krauser1 presents both a thoughtful and an emotionprovoking discourse on physicians' emotional tears and their occurrence in the physician-patient relationship. The ability to excrete emotional tears is one of the few physiological functions that distinguish humans from other animals. I have theorized that emotional tearing evolved in the human being as an adaptive response to emotional stress and that perhaps the reason we feel better after crying is that we may be removing in our tears chemicals that build up as a result of stress. I have also suggested that women may cry more easily and more frequently than men because of hormonal differences between the sexes and because of societal conditioning against crying in men.2It is unfortunate that tears are still viewed by some as a sign of weakness and loss of control. This view is certainly not held by all, however.