the defensive mimic theory

The defensive mimic theory offers an explanation for the striking similarities between crying and laughing.

It states that crying and laughing, as well as other emotional human expressions may originally stem from our defensive reflexes, which were and still are essential to our survival by protecting the body’s surface ((contracting the eyes, pulling the cheeks and upper lips up, lifting your shoulders, bending your knees, the head goes to the chest etc.) which all are characteristics that occur in both laughing and crying, especially as the expression intensifies) 

More precisely, they might stem from the act of exaggeratedly mimicking defensive reflexes in stressful situations, especially in situations of conflict.  

Throughout processes of evolution, crying and laughing may have proven to be useful social signals, effective for regulating ones and others emotions and thus regulating group dynamics by reducing aggression and evoking comfort. 

Its important to note that while mimicking defensive reflexes may be the starting stone of crying and laughing, they now have evolved, through evolution into something much more complex.

Most of my information stems of the article: “The origin of smiling, laughing, and crying: The defensive mimic theory”, which was researched and written by Michael S. A. Graziano (a scientist, author and professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University) in: “Evolutionary Human Sciences“, and was published online by “Cambridge University Press” on the 03 of March 2022:

Die Schreckposition, nachgestellt in der App Manikin. (Screenshot)



overwhelmed tears

The comic I made is about a claustrophobic fart that gets trapped in a small dark room. He breaks out into panic and sheds tears of overwhelm. This scene acts as a metaphor, of being put in a stressful situation, by outside forces, without having a choice, the claustrophobic feeling of overwhelm and helplessness. In the comic, by changing ones perspective about oneself – (the fart realizing that he is not even solid, and thus having many possibilities of escaping )- you can free yourself of this feeling.

While this might help some people, it is important to acknowledge that the happy end in the comic doesn’t translate to reality and that overwhelm can cause mental conditions like burnout and is to be taken seriously.