We all know by now that Botox is an effective means for minimizing the signs of aging. It acts by temporarily paralyzing facial muscles, which relaxes those dreaded lines that can form thanks to too many stressful moments and IRL sadfaces.
New research has some wondering whether eliminating these creases may also eliminate the negative feelings that accompany them. As one author put it, “If the tension in the face is the emotion and not merely an effect of it, then treating the tension lines in the face may be a way of getting rid of unwanted negative feeling and restoring positive emotion.”
Researchers are tracking this possibility closely and have seen results that point to Botox’s potential effectiveness in treating depression. According to some studies, even patients who didn’t see an improvement in their appearance experienced an improvement in their mood, but we have to wonder if they feel better because they think they’re going to look better, or if this is truly a promising breakthrough in the understanding of negative emotions.
It’s not all good news for Botox users, regardless. Additional research shows that Botox might impair empathy in otherwise normal patients, as our ability to feel what someone else is feeling could be limited by our ability to subconsciously mimic the emotion we see on their faces. In other words, if you can’t move your forehead into a frown, you may not be able to empathize with someone else’s sadness as well as you would with a fully functional face. So, Botox may be turning us all into happier but less empathetic people, which could make for an eerie new reality. We’re not sure how we feel about this news—maybe a shot to the forehead will ease our fears.