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Sadness - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.


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Sadness is an emotional pain associated with, or characterized

by, feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, grief, helplessness,
disappointment and sorrow. An individual experiencing sadness
may become quiet or lethargic, and withdraw themselves from
others. An example of severe sadness is depression. Crying is
often an indication of sadness.[1]

Sadness is one of the "six basic emotions" described by Paul

Ekman, along with happiness, anger, surprise, fear, and

A detail of the 1672 sculpture
1 Childhood Entombment of Christ, showing
2 Neuroanatomy Mary Magdalene crying
3 Coping mechanisms
4 Pupil empathy
5 Cultural explorations
6 See also
7 References
8 Further reading

Sadness is a common experience in childhood. Some families may have a (conscious or
unconscious) rule that sadness is "not allowed",[3] but Robin Skynner has suggested that this may
cause problems, arguing that with sadness "screened off", people can become shallow and manic.[4]
Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton suggests that acknowledging sadness can make it easier for families
to address more serious emotional problems.[5]

Sadness is part of the normal process of the child separating from an early symbiosis with the
mother and becoming more independent. Every time a child separates a little more, he or she will
have to cope with a small loss. If the mother cannot allow the minor distress involved, the child
may never learn how to deal with sadness by themselves.[6] Brazelton argues that too much
cheering a child up devalues the emotion of sadness for them;[7] and Selma Fraiberg suggests that it
is important to respect a child's right to experience a loss fully and deeply.[8]

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Margaret Mahler also saw the ability to feel sadness as an emotional achievement, as opposed for
example to warding it off through restless hyperactivity.[9] D. W. Winnicott similarly saw in sad
crying the psychological root of valuable musical experiences in later life.[10]

According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, sadness has been found to be associated with
"increases in bilateral activity within the vicinity of the middle and posterior temporal cortex,
lateral cerebellum, cerebellar vermis, midbrain, putamen, and caudate."[11] Jose V. Pardo has his
M.D and Ph.D and leads a research program in cognitive neuroscience. Using positron emission
tomography (PET) Pardo and his colleagues were able to provoke sadness among seven normal
men and women by asking them to think about sad things. They observed increased brain activity
in the bilateral inferior and orbitofrontal cortex.[12] In a study that induced sadness in subjects by
showing emotional film clips, the feeling was correlated with significant increases in regional brain
activity, especially in the prefrontal cortex, in the region called Brodmann's area 9, and the
thalamus. A significant increase in activity was also observed in the bilateral anterior temporal

Coping mechanisms
People deal with sadness in different ways, and it is an
important emotion because it helps to motivate people to deal
with their situation. Some coping mechanisms include: getting
social support and/or spending time with a pet,[14] creating a
list, or engaging in some activity to express sadness.[15] Some
individuals, when feeling sad, may exclude themselves from a
social setting, so as to take the time to recover from the feeling.
A man expressing sadness with
While being one of the moods people most want to shake,
his head in his hands
sadness can sometimes be perpetuated by the very coping
strategies chosen, such as ruminating, "drowning one's
sorrows", or permanently isolating oneself.[16] As alternative ways of coping with sadness to the
above, cognitive behavioral therapy suggests instead either challenging one's negative thoughts, or
scheduling some positive event as a distraction.[17]

Being attentive to, and patient with, one's sadness may also be a way for people to learn through
solitude;[18] while emotional support to help people stay with their sadness can be further
helpful.[19] Such an approach is fueled by the underlying belief that loss (when felt wholeheartedly)
can lead to a new sense of aliveness, and to a re-engagement with the outside world.[20]

Pupil empathy

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Sadness - Wikipedia

Pupil size may be an indicator of sadness. A sad facial expression with small pupils is judged to be
more intensely sad as the pupil size decreases.[21] A person's own pupil size also mirrors this and
becomes smaller when viewing sad faces with small pupils. No parallel effect exists when people
look at neutral, happy or angry expressions.[22] The greater degree to which a person's pupils mirror
another predicts a person's greater score on empathy.[23] However, in disorders such as autism and
psychopathy facial expressions that represent sadness may be subtle, which may show a need for a
more non-linguistic situation to affect their level of empathy.[23]

Cultural explorations
During the Renaissance, Edmund Spenser in The Faerie
Queene endorsed sadness as a marker of spiritual

In The Lord of the Rings, sadness is distinguished from

unhappiness,[25] to exemplify J. R. R. Tolkien's preference for a
sad, but settled determination, as opposed to what he saw as the
shallower temptations of either despair or hope.[26]

Julia Kristeva considered that "a diversification of moods,

variety in sadness, refinement in sorrow or mourning are the
imprint of a humanity that is surely not triumphant but subtle,
ready to fight and creative".[27]

See also
Depression Sorrow Melancholia
Lost in thoughts, by Wilhelm
(mood) (emotion) Mood
Amberg. An individual
Joie de vivre (psychology)
experiencing sadness may
become quiet or lethargic, and
withdraw themselves from

1. Jellesma F.C., & Vingerhoets A.J.J.M. (2012). Sex Roles (Vol. 67, Iss. 7, pp. 412-421). Heidelberg,
Germany: Springer
2. Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (London 1996) p. 271
3. Masman, Karen (2010). The Uses of Sadness: Why Feeling Sad Is No Reason Not to Be Happy. Allen &
Unwin. p. 8. ISBN 9781741757576.

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4. R. Skynner/J. Cleese, Families and how to survive them (1994) p. 33 and p. 36

5. T. Berry Brazelton, To Listen to a Child (1992) p. 46 and p. 48
6. R. Skynner/J. Cleese, Families and how to survive them (1994) p. 1589
7. Brazleton, p. 52
8. Selma H. Fraiberg, The Magic Years (New York 1987) p. 274
9. M. Mahler et al, The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant (London 1975) p. 92
10. D. W. Winnicott, The Child, the Family, and the Outside World (Penguin 1973) p. 64
11. Ahern, G.L., Davidson, R.J., Lane, R.D., Reiman, E.M., Schwartz, G.E. (1997). Neuroanatomical
Correlates of Happiness, Sadness, and Disgust. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 926-933.
12. Pardo JV, Pardo PJ, Raichle ME: Neural correlates of self-in- duced dysphoria. Am J Psychiatry 1993;
13. George MS, Ketter TA, Parekh PI, Horowitz B, Herscovitch P, Post RM: Brain activity during transient
sadness and happiness in healthy women. Am J Psychiatry 1995; 152:341351
14. Bos, E.H.; Snippe, E.; de Jonge, P.; Jeronimus, B.F. (2016). "Preserving Subjective Wellbeing in the
Face of Psychopathology: Buffering Effects of Personal Strengths and Resources". PLOS ONE. 11:
e0150867. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150867. PMID 26963923.
15. "Feeling Sad" (,
Kids Help Phone, November 2010
16. Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (1996) p. 6970
17. Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (1996) p. 72
18. Aliki Barnstone New England Review (1990-) , Vol. 21, No. 2 (Spring, 2000), p. 19
19. R. Skynner/J. Cleese, Families and How to Survive Them (19??)p. 164
20. Michael Parsons, The Dove that Returns, the Dove that Vanishes (London 2000) p. 4
21. Harrison NA, Singer T, Rotshtein P, Dolan RJ, Critchley HD (June 2006). "Pupillary contagion: central
mechanisms engaged in sadness processing". Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 1: 517. doi:10.1093/scan
/nsl006. PMC 1716019 . PMID 17186063.
22. Harrison NA; Singer T; Rotshtein P; Dolan RJ; Critchley HD (June 2006). "Pupillary contagion: central
mechanisms engaged in sadness processing". Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 1 (1): 517. doi:10.1093/scan
/nsl006. PMC 1716019 . PMID 17186063.
23. Harrison NA; Wilson CE; Critchley HD (November 2007). "Processing of observed pupil size
modulates perception of sadness and predicts empathy". Emotion. 7 (4): 7249.
doi:10.1037/1528-3542.7.4.724. PMID 18039039.
24. Douglas Trevor, The Poetics of Melancholy in early modern England (Cambridge 2004) p. 48
25. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (London 1991) p. 475
26. T. A Shippey, The Road to Middle-Earth (London 1992) p. 143
27. Quoted in Adam Phillips, On Flirtation (London 1994) p. 87

Further reading
Karp DA (1997). Speaking of Sadness. ISBN 0195113861.
Wikiquote has
Keltner D; Ellsworth PC; Edwards K (May 1993). "Beyond
quotations related to:
simple pessimism: effects of sadness and anger on social
perception". J Pers Soc Psychol. 64 (5): 74052.
doi:10.1037/0022-3514.64.5.740. PMID 8505705.
Look up sadness in
Tiedens LZ (January 2001). "Anger and advancement versus
Wiktionary, the free
sadness and subjugation: the effect of negative emotion
expressions on social status conferral". J Pers Soc Psychol. 80

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Sadness - Wikipedia

(1): 8694. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.80.1.86. PMID 11195894.

Wikimedia Commons
Ambady & Gray, 2002 (
has media related to
Forgas JP (March 1998). "On feeling good and getting your way:
mood effects on negotiator cognition and bargaining strategies".
J Pers Soc Psychol. 74 (3): 56577. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.74.3.565. PMID 11407408.
Forgas JP (August 1998). "On being happy and mistaken: mood effects on the fundamental attribution
error". J Pers Soc Psychol. 75 (2): 31831. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.75.2.318. PMID 9731311.
Forgas JP (1994). "The role of emotion in social judgments: an introductory review and an Affect
Infusion Model (AIM)". Eur J Soc Psychol. 24 (1): 124. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2420240102.
Forgas JP; Bower GH (July 1987). "Mood effects on person-perception judgments". J Pers Soc Psychol.
53 (1): 5360. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.53.1.53. PMID 3612493.
Isen AM; Daubman KA; Nowicki GP (June 1987). "Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving".
J Pers Soc Psychol. 52 (6): 112231. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.52.6.1122. PMID 3598858.
Keltner D; Kring AM (1998). "Emotion, social function, and psychopathology" (PDF). Review of
General Psychology. 2 (3): 320342. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.2.3.320.

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