The Situationist

The Moon and Your Emotions

Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 17, 2007

The MoonDespite its barrenness, the Moon has been a fixation for humans since the origin of our species. The Romans and Greeks, for instance, thought it was a goddess. Much more recently, it spawned a space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. It has also provided great fodder for werewolf stories and the like.

Aside from its cultural and political ramifications, the moon affects the Earth in physical ways. Most meaningful, it’s gravitational pull, which varies depending on the distance between the Earth and Moon, helps to create our oceans’ tides. This link provides a layperson’s description of the phenomenon:

Tides are created because the Earth and the moon are attracted to each other, just like magnets are attracted to each other. The moon tries to pull at anything on the Earth to bring it closer. But, the Earth is able to hold onto everything except the water. Since the water is always moving, the Earth cannot hold onto it, and the moon is able to pull at it. Each day, there are two high tides and two low tides. The ocean is constantly moving from high tide to low tide, and then back to high tide. There is about 12 hours and 25 minutes between the two high tides.

While there is uncertainty as to what the Earth would be like without the Moon, it’s clear that it would be a very different place, with very dissimilar wind and water patterns. So the Moon matters a great deal to Earth and all of its life.

But does it matter to us, individually? Some believe that the moon’s varying gravitational pull affects our brains and bodies in ways that we do not appreciate. After-all, the human body is mostly water, so if the moon moves bodies of water, why not us? If this sounds crazy, keep in mind that many believe it to be true, including those who are highly-educated. An article by Alina Iosif and Bruce Ballon of the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry explains:

A study by Rotton and Kelly in 1985 showed that 50% of university students believed that people act strangely during a full moon. In 1995, Vance reported that as many as 81% of mental health professionals believed that the full moon alters individual behaviour.

Perhaps these beliefs are influenced by some in the scientific community, including psychiatrist Arnold Lieber, who authored the controversial “Lunar Effects: Biological Tides and Human Emotions.” In it, he concluded that a full moon leads to higher homicide rates and other nefarious effects. His conclusions, writes Chris Francesani and Brittany Bacon on ABC News, are supported by others:

Studies have found that cops and hospital workers are among the strongest believers in the notion that more crime and trauma occur on nights when the moon is full . . . Dr. David Mandell of the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh and some colleagues studied existing data on health-care myths and did a 2005 study of area nurses. He said he found that 69 percent of surgical nurses in his study believed that a full moon led to more chaos and patients that night.

Now the bad news for those who believe: Most scientific evidence indicates that the moon does not appreciably influence our bodies or minds. As Iosif and Ballon write,

Not everyone realizes that, although the moon is able to move oceans, this is achieved only because the moon’s gravity acts over the 12 800-km diameter of the earth, which pulls back with a comparable force. But the moon exerts no influence on smaller bodies of water such as lakes and even some seas, and the difference between a person’s weight in the presence of the moon’s gravity and his or her weight if there were no moon is “less than the effect of a mosquito on one’s shoulder.”

* * *

To read a study by physicist Robert Seeberger on how there is no connection between lunar activity and industrial accidents, click here. To read other accounts indicating no connection between the Moon and human behavior, see University of Florida psychologist James Rotton’s Moonshine and a post on Psychology and Crime News discussing the research of University of Washington bioengineering professor Eric Chudler.

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28 Responses to “The Moon and Your Emotions”

  1. Doug S. said

    The moon has had a distinct and obvious influence on human behavior. Different phases of the moon result in brighter and darker nights, which provides a perfectly reasonable explanation for the behavioral effect of moon phases – it’s easier to see when the moon is full. (Artificial lighting has reduced the magnitude of this effect, though; nights just aren’t as dark as they used to be.)

  2. Grue said

    Why does all the data seem to be on people’s opinions (e.g. how many nurses believe the moon makes a difference) rather than more objective evidence (e.g. how many victims of violence are admitted to the ER on full moons vs crescent moons)?

  3. Danny said

    I am a strong believer of this phenomena as I my mental alertness is always at peak during full moon cycle and reverse if otherwise.

    The feeling is mostly being high on caffeine during these times (as I am not much of a coffee drinker) hence during low-season, I’d need shots of coffee/tea to keep myself going.

  4. Eyal Ben David said

    Couldn’t the effects that people feel be a result from a disposition, inherit in culture, that makes them more alert to events that correspond to their beliefs?
    A kind of confirmation bias, which makes a full moon seem significant for a corresponding event, but half a moon insignificant?

  5. Fiona Stuart said

    I suffer depression and anxiety as does one of my close friends. We both conclude that during a full moon we do feel considerably worse. This is something we have both felt for a long time. Neither of us are into astrology or mythology.
    This can’t be in our imaginations. Two nights ago there was a lunar eclipse and I feel even worse than during a normal full moon!?

  6. Daniel Johnson said

    I would agree with Fiona. Interestingly, though my roommate rarely suffers from anxiety or depression and his cycle seems to be the opposite (though not as ‘polar’ as mine, still present in a subtle way.) Also worth mentioning, most instances of either extreme depressive or energetic states (whether mine or my roomies) are first noted, and afterward I check to see if they correspond with a particular moon phase. Currently working on a personal lunar journal to test some of these ideas!

  7. Rebecca Kieft said

    My mood is quite the same as Danny’s during full moon nights, I am extremely hyperactive and suffer insomnia. I have also noticed that I become far more sexually aware during full moons, similar to what people experience with alcohol. I used to think that maybe it was a psychological thing, that because i knew it was a full moon I couldnt sleep, so I purposely did not follow the moon’s cyle; thus i never knew what night the full moon would be on, but i found that I still had the same symptoms and when i checked online or outside it was a full moon. Its just something that i have to accept, and i try to have a late night and very early morning prior to the full moon so that I will be more tired.

  8. Beth Ann said

    ya know i really feel that i can relate to Rebecca and Dan because I am always hyper, but I suffer no insomnia. I though, become a bit wild past hyper. I feel almost crazy in a strange way. I don’t drink coffee and I don’t become hyper on soda or other sugary foods so I think the moon has something to do with it. It just seems like that is the most logical reason I can come up with. Something even stranger is that during a new moon I’m overly tired, and slightly depressed. I hope that you understand this.

  9. Lee said

    I am a strong beleiver in the effects the full moon has on the human body as well. Whenever it comes around,I am much more alert and,like Rebecca,have a hard time going to sleep.But I suppose it really just varies from person to person,for instance,some people are more hyper and alert,others feel horrible,while some feel no effect at all.

  10. Sheri said

    I find it an interesting coincidence that the lunar cycle is 28 days and the menstrual cycle of a woman is based on 28 days.

  11. Denise Breslin said

    I have seen clearly that as the moon waxes (grows), my emotionalism gets much more intense and I get so much more hypersensitive and often down and edgy. I am beyond menopause, so PMS doesn’t even vaguely figure into this. At first, I didn’t realize there was a connection, but then noticed that each month, I would definitely have some weeks where I was a wreck emotionally. So just for the heck of it, I checked to see what state the moon was in — it is AlWAYS in the growing/waxing state when I feel on edge, down for an extended period. Now I also have chronic fatigue which heightens our sensitivities, so that plays a role, but I can only see the direct connection to the Moon in terms of when this occurs on a regular basis. Believe me, I wish it didn’t occur at all or that I felt BETTER not worse at this time.

  12. Desi said

    once in a while i tend to get very emotional, hypersensitive, depressed…and last night my fiancee told me that every time its full moon I am like this. 3 months in a row now. He never believed in stuff like that but are convinced now. What can I do to control my emotions in that time? anyone? what do you think?

  13. Hannah said

    When I walk to the bus stop in the morning I am surrounded by the woods so when I look at the moon I feel like i should just follow it. There were times when I considered just walking into the woods to watch the moon…What should i do? I believe that it has something spiritual to do with me because I am irish and cherokee indian. I have also noticed this feeling more since i began searching for a new religion. And my eyes are two different colors like a huskies…one is bright green, almost blue. And the other is dark green almost brown. I’ve been trying to get some answers but i can’t seem to find anyone who knows what is going on with me…I wasn’t born on a full moon…i was born on the half moon soo? What Am i turning into a werewolf or something? I know it isn’t my menstrual cycle because it has only been since last year that i became strangely drawn to it…i feel out of place and just cant stop staring when i see it! someone help me!

  14. Based Carbon said

    I’ve felt the same as you Hannah. I live in a rural area, and there are nights when I feel the need to just walk away from everything, follow the moon. It’s a very strange feeling. There is nothing as liberating as a midnight walk through the woods though. I don’t know the basis for these urges but they are there, and it feels good to accept them. I’ve noticed also what others have mentioned here, that my moods follow the moon cycle in an “after the fact” sort of manner. Meaning that I will be feeling a certain emotion and out of happen stance catch a glimpse of the moon. The full moon is always strongly artistic, with the waning moon being a feeling of loss. The new moon usually brings about anger, or discontent with situations, but then the waxing moon always ALWAYS is acceptance, or hope. Perhaps it’s an unconscious act that I put myself in, but it’s hard not to feel trapped all the same. Currently I’m working on trying to use this flow of emotions for the better. It all sounds very silly written out . . . I’m sorry.

  15. sam said

    The effect of the moons gravitational pull, as sited above, also relating to oceanic tides, also have various effects to our physiology. As we are largely made of water ourselves, the tidal distortions created by the moon would also effect anything carried in our bodies water, namely HORMONES and the glands they are released from. Is this not obvious?

  16. sam said

    The water in our bodies and our endocrine system that controls the hormones that are released into our body fluids seem to me the most likely thing to be effected by the gravitational pull of the moon. As with the oceanic tides, as stated above.
    I’m not disagreeing that full moons can seem full of portent, however for any unwanted effect of which people are not aware I would look to the moons ever changing gravitational effects on our physiology.

  17. Simon said

    I think it is absurd to think that the moon has no effect on us. I agree with the approach that we are mostly water so how is our water not affected but the earth’s is. But there are more conclusive things to consider.

    The human heart generates an electromagnetic field similar to that of the earth, and in fact, when one looks at the readouts of fluxuations in the earth’s field they look surprisingly human. Similarly the earths ionisphere readouts look a lot like the readouts of human brainwaves.

    Strong correlations have been drawn between the state of the earths field and the effect on the field of each human. For example, solar flares have been shown to cause an increase in things like heart attacks and car accidents. So to me the idea that the moon affects our behaviour seems standard. Anything that is changing the earths electromagnetic field is also changing ours. The coherence within the field generated by our heart depends on our state of being ie. state of high stress VS deep meditation. Those who are in a more incoherent state are more affected by changes in the earths field while those in a coherent state are less affected.
    Interest in these ideas should be directed to The Global Coherence Initiative.

  18. jessica said

    i never took a moment to think that i am. i am one. i am everything and nothing all at once.. i am life, light. and that because of this, all factors contribute. emotions are not mine, my body, my possessions, are not mine. so well, here is something that is getting me to think..

    i’ve been told i have depression/minor case of bipolar, because, a couple days of each month i’m just so down and depressed that i find no purpose to life and well, you know all that. but then after those few days, i feel like it never happened and that it’s never going to happen again, i feel great. re-born. refreshed. but it always came back around, every month.

    i started recording when it would happen to find if it happened at the same time – this was not the case.

    years later i started becoming conscious of the spirit that i am and by this point had opened my mind to the moon and looked back at the recordings and found that every period of time that i was depressed was during a NEW MOON. i read about the FULL MOON playing on emotions, but never the new moon.. that is really peculiar to me. DOES ANYONE KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE NEW MOON AND IT’S PLAY ON EMOTIONS?

  19. jessica said

    where are you located? we got the depression at the same time, though, you had a full moon and mine a new moon.. and i’m like this every time it comes around too

  20. The effects of the Moon’s phases on human, animal and plant behaviour have been noted not just for decades, or generations, but for thousands of years. To say that “science” proves that there is no effect shows that either the “scientists” are asking and answering the wrong questions, or that they are mistaken. Full Moons and New Moons create tensions in the collective, and especially in sensitive individuals. Without even taking account of the other astrological forces at play, anyone who carefully examines the effect of the New Moon, Full Moon, and their eclipses can easily see the correlation. To say that gravity cannot have any influence means nothing. The influence here is by no means purely material, though when we note the effects on human behaviour of relatively miniscule quantities of drugs such as LSD, size hardly matters :) The world is a spiritual place, not just a collection of atoms and we need to take note of the way it works, if we want to survive, prosper and grow as conscious beings.

  21. Валентина said

    Ханна, добрый день! Искала в Интернете информацию о связи фаз луны и депрессии, потому чту моего друга проблемы со здоровьем. Прочитала Ваше сообщение от 14 января -2009г. Помог ли Вам кто-нибудь избавиться от Ваших проблем? . Я знаю, как Вам помочь в духовном отношении, потому что для себя я этот выход нашла. Я живу в России. Где живете Вы? Если захотите, пишите. Я отвечу. С уважением, Валентина.

  22. Sal said

    I am not a believer of this phenomenon. I know this phenomenon occurs…I live it! I have learned not to make major decisions and life choices around this time because I am too hyper sensitive and emotional at these times. Science may not have proof but let’s just ask the question “Does science have ALL the information available on which to make an informed decision?” Maybe its best to say on the scientific understanding and information they currently have they can find no evidence.

    Sal

  23. Sal said

    Desi,

    I too am finding the same. So, so hypersensitive around these times. I think the next full moon I will slow down, appreciate silence, get close to nature, not make any major choices or life changing decisions, cut down on life’s stimulations. Do please let me know what ways you find to help you

    Sal

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  25. Anonymous said

    There is no doubt that the moon has a profound effect on human behavior. About 1.5 weeks before a full moon that which can go wrong will go wrong. Appliances on the edge will break. Strange happenings will occur that make me think I’m a some kind of psychedlic trip. Sexually charged is an understatement. Insomnia is real. I dread it every month. There is a veil between this world and the next that gets very thin during the lead up to the full moon. Psychic intiutions become strong. I am a scientist by nature but there is a lot we have to learn about this phenomenon.

  26. Yogi said

    I practice Ashtanga yoga that is a traditional vigorous yoga style that is thousands of years old. In ashtanga we practice every day except moon days: full moon and new moon. They believe that the days of full moon we have too much energy so if we practice we might do too much and injure ourselves. The days of new moon is the opposite, we have less energy so we use that day to rest. I agree with Sal, those days you slow down, appreciate silence, meditate and spend more time in nature.

  27. Years ago my mother would always tell me u want your hair tp grow back thick and full, cut it on the full-moon. A famous writer says he does his best writing on a full moon. I later found out the water in our body adheres to the funcioning of the moon!

  28. Bill Lulay said

    I just went through two days of full-blown depression, and, guess what? Full moon was three days ago. I started noticing a correlation to bouts of depression with the full moon several years back. It does not happen with every full moon, but if I inexplicably become depressed, it will always be within several days of a full moon. This depression currently manifests with disagreements and arguments with my significant other. The problems always seem very real to me when I am in their embrace, but then, as my mood lightens, the problems seem to evaporate, not to say there are not real problems, but their emotional charge lessens dramatically. These events frequently leave me wrung out emotionally and physically exhausted. While pondering my feelings of the past couple of days this morning as I was waking up, I remembered that my father was treated for depression back in the 1950′s with electroshock therapy. I never knew his particular circumstances, but it made me wonder if there is a genetic connection with depression.

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