Crying And Traumatic Experiences

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“What cannot be said will be wept.”
– Sappho

There is a lot of truth to Sappho’s statement from the neurological point of view. It’s something with which most therapists that work with clients who have suffered through traumatic experiences will agree. Some of the most potent moments of our lives, good and bad, can’t be put into words.

This is probably because these potent moments are emotional. The limbic system is the part of the brain that deals with emotions. It’s Broca’s area and Wernike’s area that are thought to be responsible for language and communication.

Our point? Sometimes healing comes not from trying to logically explain past traumatic experiences but from letting catharsis occur through allowing the proper emotions tied to these experiences to be openly expressed. It’s funny to realize that for many people opening up emotionally constitutes the greatest risk, communicating emotions is scarier than communicating thoughts.

The cognitive behavioral explanation for why people are afraid to let themselves fully experience their authentic emotions is that they are engaged in faulty thinking patterns like catastrophizing or shoulding. They think things to themselves like, “If I let myself start crying I’ll never be able to stop” or “Men are supposed to be strong.” But the really deep emotional trauma needs to be acted out through the proper emotional channels, it can’t be talked away. Sometimes this means having a good long cry.