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Crying Blood: Hellish Tears of Haemolacria

[disturbing images]

Many medicalmysteriesin the past took on supernatural overtones because of superstitions, folklore,
and scientific ignorance. Though much had been learned medically about the human organism, there
were many diseases and disorders thought of as diabolic.
Tourettes syndrome uncontrollable neuromuscular and vocal tics was once thought a sure sign of
not only mental illness but demonic possession.
Those unfortunate enough to have the genetic disorder hypertrichosis (caused by a genetic mutation
that results in excessive hair growth on the body) found themselves labeled as
Conditions such as albinism and porphyria formed the basis for medieval beliefs that certain afflicted
persons were vampires. Porphyria is a family ofmetabolic disorders that in extreme cases
affects a persons behavior (cravings for the mineral iron), altering physical features in extremis. The
most severe cases leave the victim resembling the classic vampiriclook of Nosferatu, with the
flattened nose, snaggled teeth, and slanted eyes.In todays world, fortunately, people with various
skin conditions or body disfigurements are not usually castigated by society or religion (as
epilepticsonce were thoughtto bechannelersof demons). There do remain, however, a handful of
disorders for whichthe causative mechanismsare not entirely known. Such disorders lend themselves
(not by the afflicteds choice) to religious reverence or proof of mystical or divinely inspired omens.
One such disorder that can make a saint in the eyes of a zealot is a strange excretory anomaly. For a
few people in the world, crying tears of blood has made their lives hellish.
Duct Work
The normal function for crying tears in humans is simply to moisten the eye and wash away foreign
objects. For some, crying is an expression of an emotive state ironically, people can cry tears of
sadness as well as tears of joy.

The liquid that comprises tears is mostly water, with some proteins, salts, and other minerals exuded
in the process. There is usually nothing mysterious about it. The exception, of course, is when a
persons tears do not resemble the clear, expected fluid, but take on a reddish hue.
The plainly visible bloody tears of haemolacriaare the most extreme form of the disorder. What is
calledoccult haemolacria, however,may befound in many people under specific circumstances. The
word occult in this instance is usedin a forensic sense it means an element is present in only trace
amounts, chemically confirmed but not visible to the naked eye. Many pregnant women and
menstruating women will cry tears that contain occult blood. This may benormal for many women
under those body stressors. The tears look normal, but can chemically be shown to contain blood.
There are instances where a person may infrequently cry bloody tears due to conjunctivaeinfection.
However, such sanguineous discharges stop when the underlying condition is resolved.
It is the most extreme form of haemolacria the frequent shedding of bloody tears that even today
presents a medical mystery. For some, the ocular discharge is an embarrassment. For others, it has
made them an object of religious veneration. In all, the underlying cause is not known minor
conditions may contribute, but the truth is the mechanism for this issue is still unclear and subject to
Crocodile Tears
Juveniles seem to be the most commonly affectedby haemolacria. Cases are reportedmost usually in
conjunction with some revered religious relic or sacred worship site. Some cases have been proven
to be complete frauds, with either a parent or the child inflicting an injury to cause the eyes to shed
bloody tears. Sometimes substances are used to irritate the tear ducts and produce the desired
effect. These are more likely to occur in children with Munchausens syndrome (a pathological need
for sympathy and attention) or be caused by a parent (most often a mother) who exhibits symptoms
of Munchausens-by-proxy (a mental disorder in which the parent or guardian makes a child ill to
gain vicarious sympathy from well-wishers).
There have been haemolacriacases in ancient history that naturally cannot be examined in detail
because of the times in which they occurred. Documentation is dodgy and certainly tainted by
superstitious and religious beliefs. Dismissing some hapless woman with haemolacria as a witch and
burning her publicly would tend to make sufferers stay out of the public eye as well, and thus not
make their true numbers known.
In the modern world reports of some child or young adult crying blood are usually featured as
human interest items on local news reports. Such stories are usually angled toward the miraculous
and mystical religious connotations of the manifestation. With few exceptions, most of these cases
are usually found in underdeveloped areas or in places where the victim cannot be properly
diagnosed medically.
In the United States, there is a fifteen-year-old Tennessean, Calvino Inman, who cries bloody tears.
This is routine for him he cries the red tears three times a day. Investigations into his condition
remain inconclusive while it is abundantly clear there is no supernatural cause for his crying blood,
the organic cause is not known, either.

Far more girls than boys exhibit haemolacria, though. A classic case study involved a fifteen-year-old
Indian girl for whom no underlying medical problem could be discovered for her bloody tears in

1984. Another more recent haemolacriac is teenager Delfina Cedinoa.

Yet another is an 18-year-old Egyptian girl named Dawaa. She claimed she was under the influence
of the jinn (the Middle Eastern mischief-making demons of The 1,001 Arabian Nights tales). This
girl, unfortunately, had religion and superstition thrust upon her as explanatory. She may very well
have had an undiagnosed infection or other medical issue. A Muslim scholar expressed certainty that
the jinn were only an external influence on her, in his opinion, and had not possessed her. He based
this conclusion on the fact that her voice did not change and she did not convulse when she cried
bloody tears. The jinn explanation was offered and seemed to be the end of the interest in her case:
no medical opinion was proffered.
As a prime example of religious veneration, aberrations in people can make them objects of worship.
As with hermaphrodites in ancient Greece (considered mystical) so, too, was the teary bloodshedding of Indian girl, Rashida Khatoon, perceived as a sign of sanctity. She had been documented
as crying blood up to five times a day, occasionally fainting during such episodes.
More critically, though, is her turn as a scared personage she has become a holy shrine in the wake
of her publicity. Many gifts, offerings of a religious nature, have been given to her because of her
miraculous, bloody crying. Medically, nothing can be found wrong with her, and she reported that
her bloody tears do not hurt or cause her any discomfort.
No More Tears
Many conditions and diseases are proffered as causative, though no one specifically fits every case.
Severe anemia, jaundice, and vascular tumors are commonly noted. Conjunctivitis is an obvious
offender as well.
Many people exhibiting haemolacria, however, have no clear medical condition that could cause
them to cry blood. Most are in completely excellent health. It is the lack of solid medical information
that makes this phenomenon certainly not miraculous or of divine or supernatural origin still quite
mysterious nonetheless.