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Greenacre, P. (1966). Summary of Discussion Remarks on Dr Löfgren's Paper. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:381-383.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:381-383

Summary of Discussion Remarks on Dr Löfgren's Paper

Phyllis Greenacre

Dr Löfgren's paper gives a condensed and comprehensive introductory presentation of the general subject of weeping, with special emphasis on its relation to aggression. His central thesis is that weeping is an act whereby aggressive energy is dissipated by secretory behaviour.

I raise the question whether the very activity of secretory tears by itself dissipates the aggression, or is it the whole weeping behaviour accompanying the tears—a more general muscle relaxation and diffused hostility which presents a less formidable expression of the aggresion than was the direct hostile response which frequently precedes the tearfulness? Is the hostile aggression negated by the tears, or is there rather a scattering and diffusion by a displacement from a definite object to multiple minor objects. Is the secretory process itself the active initiator of the change or part of an expression of an inner shift of emotional attitude which precedes the tears. It seems to me that weeping and relaxation may first express and then substantiate such a change.

Let us look at weeping from a biological angle. Simple lacrimation, i.e. secretion of tears at a purely physiological level, occurs in animals; but weeping as an expression of affective distress is limited to human beings and is generally associated with considerable muscle activity of the entire body and face, as well as with disturbed respiratory and vocal responses. The total body involvement is greatest in infancy and diminishes as better body control and more economical ways of communicating are established.

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