Sob stories let sniffling cinephiles vent stress, shrinks say
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From Correspondent Cynthia Tornquist
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The sound of sniffles in a romantic film is good a sign the movie is hitting home.
This winter, cinematic weepers like "Stepmom," which was among the five highest-grossing movies last weekend, "Patch Adams," which topped the box office list for two weeks straight, "Down in the Delta," "The Theory of Flight" and the Italian film "Life is Beautiful" are sending moviegoers reaching for the tissues.
But the tear-jerker can serve another purpose: as a socially acceptable release for some pent-up emotions, psychologist Ellen Nelson says.
"It's not OK to cry in the workplace. Even with your spouse, sometimes you learn to repress your emotions and tears," Nelson said. "But in the movie, it's all OK and it's a cover-up for letting go of a lot of feelings."
For others, says Robert Schachter, another psychologist, the heartwarming -- or heartbreaking -- romance brings out feelings of longing and hope.
"Some people will cry if they see love on the screen because they just want to be loved," Schachter said. "Some people will cry if they're just so happy it's not them that's happening to what's happening to the person on the screen."
As filmwatchers, women more weepy
The consensus is that women cry more at movies than men.
"The woman is usually suffering the loss or the tragedy, so I think more women are identifying with that woman," Nelson says.
A good comedy is bound to cheer you up. But experts say if you need to release stress, see a sad film and have a good cry.
"It's the least expensive form of therapy in New York City," one moviegoer said.
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