It’s the first thing most of us do when we enter this world: cry. And yet by the time we reach toddlerhood, we’re socialized to learn that crying is undesirable behavior. Big boys and girls don’t cry.
Why does our society censor this reflexive expression of emotion? Surely something so instinctual must have an evolutionary purpose.
This is the sentiment echoed by entrepreneur and author Hiroki Terai, the Japanese creator of crying therapy sessions. Over the past few years, his Tokyo-based crying sessions have gained popularity as a self-care method offering supposed mood-enhancing effects.
According to Terai, many people are stressed but are unable to cry at work or in front of their families. His sessions are designed to be an outlet for people to experience emotional release.
During a crying therapy session, people gather together to watch sad movies or listen to sad stories, with the hope that it will help them cry. Yoshiko Nishikawa, who made the 200-mile journey from Nagoya to Tokyo to attend a session, praised the effects. “I feel very refreshed; I’m surprised. Now that I cried, I feel better,” Nishikawa says.
The groups are usually run by a facilitator who may provide some basic counseling to those who need it. But participants aren’t required to talk about the crying, or how they feel after the videos end. Terai emphasizes that the stress-relieving effects are mainly found in the simple act of crying. “It’s been said that one drop of tear has the effect of relieving stress for a week,” Terai says.
The first Tokyo-based crying therapy session organized by Terai was held in 2013. Since then, he has added an extra element to the classes, which he feels enhances their effectiveness. Terai now intentionally hires attractive men as class facilitators. Not only do they lead in the crying by shedding tears first, but they also assist participants in wiping away their tears. He feels having an attractive person lead the group adds to the emotional intensity of the session.
Looking at a group of adults participate in communal crying may raise some eyebrows. But is there some validity to…