Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Am I crying yet?

This past week Observation of a Nerd posted a blog about Botox. Considering that I have a mother reaching a particular age (that I won’t mention here, you’re welcome, mom) and she’s been rambling about getting a face-lift and not being able to afford it “like those rich celebrities” yada yada, I decided to read it before “mark[ing] as read.” Apparently Botox, by altering the muscles in your face that control frowning can help manipulate your emotions.

Botox is a prescription medicine; it is a purified protein that temporarily improves the look of moderate-to-severe frown lines between the brows. It is administered through a nonsurgical treatment: injections directly into the muscles between the brows. It works by blocking nerve impulses to the injected muscle which prevents activity that causes persistent lines to form. Regardless of whether or not my mom has wrinkles or needs this, mind you is of lesser importance. The experiment however, was incredible. What these scientists did was give randomly chosen participants (at their will) different sentences to spark reactions—sad, angry and happy, to which they measured reaction times. They then gave them Botox treatments and did the same. Apparently, when reading the happy sentences the reaction times did not vary, however sad or angry comments showed a slower reaction time. While it is common that Botox prevents muscular action (as is the point) could it be true that it alters emotional reactions as well. Further, is this a bad thing? I guess the bigger problem is as follows: your reactions are delayed because your muscles are temporarily paralyzed. So you got your Botox, looking 27, working it down the street and a psycho pulls a gun on you. Are you so enthralled with your lack of facial abilities to realize you’re in danger and react properly? (Assuming your firm, youthful new face doesn’t immediately sway your attacker, that is). Rather, a child being kidnapped in your witness…and you don’t realize the danger in the situation until much later. I realize these scenarios may be extreme but who’s to say that’s not the case? Is it worth putting mental functionality on hold to look 23? I don’t think so. I guess I’m “too young” to understand but I don’t see the necessity in injecting your face (of all places!) with something to paralyze your muscles and slow reaction times. I’ll probably re-visit this opinion in about 20 years; let’s see how I react then.


  1. I’m not convinced that the Botox treatment actually slows the reaction time in the brain. I’m fairly sure it just slows the movement of the muscles in your face. The way you described it, it sounds like they no longer feel sadness anymore, or have a harder time.
    And I can’t imagine ever wanting to get Botox either. A needle in my face? I have enough trouble giving blood, thanks! (My first time I fainted and woke up at the other end of the room with a juice in my hand that I don’t remember opening. The second time the attendant thought I was in pain because I was staring up at the ceiling with a blank look on my face counting the boards to keep my mind off the fact that there was a needle in my arm pulling out all my blood. I have yet to donate a third time…)

  2. Geeze, I don't blame you for not giving blood after all that!

    The way they described it, unless I read wrong, the participants had longer times reading the sad or angry sentences and therefore took longer to respond to them emotionally...saying that "...the brain sends the signal to frown, and in turn, once the face frowns, it sends signals back which reaffirm or enhance the brain's interpretation. Without the feedback, the brain gets a little confused or simply doesn't process the depth of the emotion as well."

    Rather than feeling the emotion and not being able to interpret it through facial expressions, they're saying the lack of facial expression confuses the emotional end of things.

    Also, since it was only addressed using anger sad, and happiness, who's to say that for other critical emotions (I address fear or anxiety) won't be altered. If it takes longer to comprehend situation that result in a frown, that could serve for some very dangerous outcomes.
    But I do agree with you. I'd really like to see the article or data to try and interpret for myself because this seems unconvincing.

  3. And...for anyone interested, the title is a reference to a Will and Grace episode, which HULU so graciously decided is not worth posting for viewing pleasure (BOO).