The above title is a variation on both the name of award-winning Harlan Ellison's 1967 novella and arecent entry on Good/blog, Mark Frauenfelder's musings on the "potential sci-fi horrors of Botox": I Have No Wrinkles But I Must Scream:
It goes without saying that our internal emotional states drive our outward behavior and emotional expressions. What’s not as obvious is that the path runs in both directions — that is, our actions and facial expressions tell us how to feel, just as our emotions tell us how to act. This effect is known as the facial feedback hypothesis. Charles Darwin, who wrote The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals in 1872, understood that an action can cause the experience of a feeling. As William James said of the phenomenon: “We don’t run because we are scared; we are scared because we run.”
This well-known but little-understood quirk of animal behavior showed up in a recent Discover magazine article about a study conducted by researcher Bernhard Haslinger at the Technical University of Munich. Haslinger injected a substance similar to Botox into the faces of 19 women, temporarily paralyzing their facial muscles. He then showed the frozen-faced women (and a control group of non-injected women) photographs of sad or angry faces. Haslinger asked both groups of women to imitate the facial expressions, and he measured the activity in their amygdalas, the emotional control center of the brain. It turned out the injected women’s amygdalas showed less activity when asked to make angry faces than the control group’s did. In other words, the control group became angry when they made an angry face, but the frozen-faced women did not become angry when they tried to make an angry face, because they were unable to move their facial muscles to form the expression of anger.
This experiment is a laboratory-controlled subset of a much larger, unmonitored experiment being conducted around the world on millions of people (overwhelmingly women) who receive Botox injections to erase frown lines. The June 2008 Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology ran an essay titled “Botulinum toxin and the facial feedback hypothesis: can looking better make you feel happier?” in which the authors (plastic surgeons at Northwestern University in Chicago) “hypothesize that the injection of botulinum toxin for upper face dynamic creases might induce positive emotional states by reducing the ability to frown and create other negative facial expressions.” They wrote that botulinum toxin injections “may curtail the appearance of negative emotions, most notably anger, but also fear and sadness.”
At first blush, that doesn’t sound like a bad deal—one Botox session can get rid of wrinkles and anger, sadness, and fear. What’s not to like?
Read it all here.