Science Report: Emotions in the age of Botox

16.05.2016 - Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: Italian

Science Report: Emotions in the age of Botox
(Image by http://bit.ly/1TPpnBO)

The kingdom of the secondary is not harmless fun. The culture of celebrity and the compulsion towards money and power, making them more important than human beings, are driving a level of inequality and suffering that threatens the whole world.

The search for the Fountain of Youth in the form of plastic surgery has left many people damaged by botched operations and procedures done by quacks. But Botox injections used to smooth out wrinkles? Surely they have very few side effects, right? Well, it looks like wrong.

New research published by Science Daily tells us “The thankfully temporary paralysis of facial muscles that this toxin causes impairs our ability to capture the meaning of other people’s facial expressions,” explains Jenny Baumeister, research scientist at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste and first author of a study just published in the journal Toxicon (and carried out with the collaboration of Cattinara Hospital in Trieste). Baumeister’s intuition stems from a very well-known scientific theory, called embodiment. The idea is that the processing of emotional information, such as facial expressions, in part involves reproducing the same emotions on our own bodies. In other words, when we observe a smile, our face too tends to smile (often in an imperceptible and automatic fashion) as we try to make sense of that expression. However, if our facial muscles are paralyzed by Botox, then the process of understanding someone else’s emotion expression may turn out to be more difficult.”

The loss of empathy we observe in many social situations denote an inability to “put oneself in other people’s shoes”, and this happens for many reasons but it seems that that the Botox culture can be an important factor considering the millions of people who undergo the procedure.

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