Pathological laughing and crying can happen at inappropriate times
While there are times when crying is appropriate, even expected, there are circumstances under which it is less so. Most people know when it’s okay to emote and when they should hold back, but some individuals are not able to control their expressions of emotion: some people develop the pseudobulbar affect, also known as pathological laughing and crying. In essence, this physical disorder causes a person to laugh or cry all of a sudden, with minimal provocation, or at inappropriate times. However, it is not a result of true emotional distress, but rather a disturbance in one’s expression of emotion; the person’s body produces an excessive emotional response to a minor stimulus. Thus, it should not be confused with mood swings or mood disorders.
It is a condition commonly associated with multiple sclerosis, since the disease affects the part of the brain that controls the emotional pathways. So, while it may look like someone is under emotional duress, they may not be feeling much of anything if they suffer from the pseudobulbar affect.