Indicates honesty or sincerity when crying

No response is as sincere as crying

Vikram Patel, professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, defines the process of crying as follows: "Crying is a secretomotor reaction that is characterized by the excretion of tears from the licorice and that occurs without irritating the ocular structures."

Alexander Grau from the FAZ describes it more figuratively: "This leads to changes in the muscles responsible for facial expressions, the voice and cramping of the airway muscles, which can lead to convulsive inhalation and exhalation, sobbing."

But crying is much more than that. Crying is one of the most sincere responses people - and only people - use to express feelings. Not only is it a sign of helplessness, but it also arouses sympathy and empathy in others. As long as the tear effusion does not mutate into an annoying flutter, it signals a call for help for consolation and affection.

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At a time when every aspect of life is exposed to the public and honest emotions have become rare, 29-year-old photographer Gracie Hagen wants to explore that one aspect of human life that is normally hidden from the public: crying. That is why the people in their photos consciously surrender to their vulnerability. They show a part of you that, under normal circumstances, only your closest caregivers, if anyone at all, can see. With her photos, Hagen makes something very personal public, she names her photo series Secretomotor Phenomenon.

“In my opinion, emotions and vulnerability are something that society doesn't value enough,” says Hagen. According to Hagen, we humans would adapt to social expectations and hide our true feelings. Emotional men would quickly be labeled as weaklings, whereas crying women would be more likely to be considered hysterical. Emotions are the way people process things.

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Curled mouths, weak posture, wet eyes - Secretomotor Phenomenon also shows how different faces of grief can look. While a woman in an orange sweater presses her lips together tightly and a single tear falls from her eyes, a gray-haired man completely contorts his face. When looking at the photos, you can hear the participants literally sobbing and shaking.

Hagen took each of the photos in her own kitchen. She rolled up a flower background, added a couple of lamps and the shoot started. The portrayed are people with whom she had either already worked on previous projects or who responded to Hagen's casting call. In order to get real tears, people used various methods. Most withdrew and remembered emotional moments from their lives. Exactly which one will not be revealed. Some of these memories came up with such a force that Hagen had to cry while taking the photos.