How Botox Can Affect Emotions

Botox users may be surprised to hear about new research regarding the link between Botox and the inability to quickly process and experience emotions. While the effects are not drastic, these new findings call into question the impact of Botox usage on authentic communication and effective social interaction.

Background

Botox is the short name for botulinum toxin-A; it is a neurotoxic protein used to temporarily paralyze muscles. The effects of Botox begin within several days after injection and last for a period of three to four months. Individuals, mostly women, use the treatment to look younger and eliminate what they consider to be unsightly frown lines and other facial creases.

Until recently, most of the controversy about Botox rested on its high cost, safety questions related to injecting the face with a toxin, and societal stigmas attached to using artificial means to achieve youth and beauty. Now with this new research, if you use Botox you may want to consider the impact of Botox on your ability to process emotions and relate compassionately with others.

One century-old argument from scientists is that facial expressions actually trigger feelings; and they not only trigger them, they intensify them. For example, if you frown out of sadness you will then feel a greater and deeper degree of sadness as a result of the actual act of frowning.

Research

In a recent study, researchers asked 40 women who had plans to receive Botox for the first time to first read sentences and press a key on the computer once they understood the meaning of the sentences. Reading comprehension checks were done to ensure that participants understood the sentences. This test was repeated two weeks after this same group received Botox injections for the first time.  

The finding with Botox users was that they responded more slowly to descriptions of negative feelings, such as anger and sadness, than did non-Botox users. This finding is in support of the notion that your facial expressions play a role in how quickly and deeply you feel emotions.

Implications

Some experts argue that this delayed emotional reaction in Botox users has significant implications for social interaction. Communicating with others without the ability to mirror their negative feelings may lead to misunderstandings and disunity.

The participants’ response to sad and angry sentences was delayed by only one-tenth of a second. Some may feel that this is hardly cause for alarm. However, experts argue that even slight delays in reacting to an angry or sad person may create conflict in personal relationships and in work situations where empathy and customer service skills are essential.

Conclusion

The implications of such studies call into question the safety of Botox usage. The study was conducted with first-time Botox users. Do the negative effects worsen across time and with repeated Botox usage? More studies are needed to confirm the findings of current studies and to further investigate the impact of long-term Botox usage.

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