A Good Cry

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The discussions of managing grief in the March 12 issue seems to me to omit an important approach. How is it that one can have a huge and deeply satisfying cry in seeing a fictional tragedy on film or in theatre?

The technical answer concerns what is called distancing. One can control and enjoy crying about a painful event if it brings on an earlier event of one’s own, one with positive emotions. The process of distancing is about influencing one’s response to an upsetting event by dealing with it in connection with an earlier event, one that was felt as positive. It seems to me that this possibility is crucial, both in therapy and in life.

Distancing in the response to emotion seems to be important not only with grief, but also with other emotions, such as fear, anger and shame. Managing emotions in this way may remove much, if not all, of the pain.

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