The Anatomy of Sadness

Listen 49:33

Sadness seemingly comes out of nowhere sometimes: a song, a photo, a movie scene, a memory, and there it is. Your heart seems heavy. Tears well up in your eyes. What is happening in the brain when we feel sad? We delve into this complex emotion, and explore how we experience it, and how we deal with it. From tears shed at the gym after a serious workout, to crying in public, and sad songs that help us cope with tough times.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Sometimes, it seems like kids cry over just about anything — but other times, they surprise us with a deeper sadness: sorrow for others, existential angst, or despair over unfairness in the world. When do kids begin to experience this kind of profound, complex sadness? How common is it? Reporter Steph Yin digs deep into the landscape of children’s sadness.
  • Can sadness make us more creative? Reporter Gisele Regatao talks with author Said Sayrafiezadeh about his experiences with sadness and writer’s block.
  • Why do people pay good money to go to an exercise class that makes them cry? We investigate the SoulCycle-crying connection.
  • We look into public crying, and why New Yorkers say it’s a bonding experience. We hear from Shaina Feinberg, who has made a map of all the places where she’s cried.
  • We think of sadness as something we want to avoid — but then why do we love sad songs so much? We talk with neuroscientist Matt Sachs about the sad songs we love and how they help us through tough situations.

Segments from this episode

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