Chuck and I are going to get professional pictures for our web site in order to show our readers how much older we’ve become. So, already, I’m a bit worried about my smile. I don’t think I ever worried about the way I looked in pictures until I started to notice pictures of myself in my early 20’s. I hated them all. It must have been genetic because my grandmother who was born in 1882 or so carefully scratched all of her faces off her pictures before she died at age 92. No wonder I am a psychologist.
Scientists have looked into smiles. They measure the muscles in the face and call one smile– that involves two facial muscle movements the Ducheene Smile. For those of you who care, the zygomaiticus muscle pulls the corner of the lips up and the orbicularis oculi pars lateralis muscle lifts the cheeks, narrows the eyes and causes crow feet. The Ducheene smile is associated with real pleasure or amusement. The fake smile, sometimes called the polite smile, only uses the muscles in the mouth region. When people aren’t feeling happy or don’t have a natural talent to bring forth instantaneous joy, they often produce the social or polite smile. In fact one treatment for people with Borderline Personality Disorder developed by Dr. Marsha Lineham suggests that patients practice half smiles in order to control their underline feelings of unhappiness or anger.
When I am unselfconscious, in a dark comedy, feeling silly, or with kids, I usually don’t think about my smiles. However, when I am in front of a photographer, my cheeks and crows’ feet are paralyzed. I must admit, as the wrinkles in my face are overtaking my youth, I’m a bit less self-conscious than I used to be. So that’s good.
But, it brings me to a study that colleague Ken Pope reported on last week. In this study, one group of participants was given Botox (injections that paralyze muscles). This injection was given in the area that paralyzes the muscles that cause frowning. The subjects were then asked to read happy, angry, and sad statements. Those with the …