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The Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Moods and Relationships

Overview

William Shakespeare famously wrote that “a face is like a book,” and common wisdom has it that our faces reveal our deep-seated emotions. But what if the reverse were also true?  What if our facial expressions set our moods instead of revealing them? What if there were actual science to support the exhortation, “smile, be happy?” Dermatologic surgeon Eric Finzi has been studying that question for nearly two decades, and in this ground breaking book he marshals evidence suggesting that our facial ...

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The Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Moods and Relationships

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Overview

William Shakespeare famously wrote that “a face is like a book,” and common wisdom has it that our faces reveal our deep-seated emotions. But what if the reverse were also true?  What if our facial expressions set our moods instead of revealing them? What if there were actual science to support the exhortation, “smile, be happy?” Dermatologic surgeon Eric Finzi has been studying that question for nearly two decades, and in this ground breaking book he marshals evidence suggesting that our facial expressions are not secondary to, but rather a central driving force of, our emotions. Based on clinical experience and original research, Dr. Finzi shows how changing a person’s face not only affects their relationships with others but also with themselves. In his studies using Botox, he has shown how inhibiting the frown of clinically depressed patients leads many to experience relief. This work is a dramatic departure from the neuroscience-based thinking on emotions that tends to view emotions solely as the result of neurotransmitters in the brain. Part absorbing medical narrative, part think piece on the nature of emotion, this is a bold call for us to rethink the causes of unhappiness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Forget the eyes being the window to the soul—focus on the eyebrows. Beltway dermatologist Finzi argues that your face doesn’t just reflect the mood you’re in, it plays an integral role in generating feelings and moods. His trials of the 140-year-old “facial feedback hypothesis” discovered that the powerful botulinum toxin—used commercially as Botox to erase laugh lines, crows’ feet, and other facial signs of aging—appears to change the mood of depressed patients by preventing sad or angry looks. Finzi provides a fascinating and entertaining survey of how our faces contribute to our emotions, noting that as early as the 19th century, Charles Darwin found that smiles and frowns are much more than fleeting reflections of inner happiness or turmoil. Recounting both the art and history of depression—and a heartfelt narrative of his own mother’s battle—Finzi makes an important call for more research on the facial feedback theory to help unravel exactly what happens to the brain of depressed patients who feel better after treatment with Botox. Until then, the rest of us—whether we opt for a face-freeze or not—might do just as well to put on a happy face. Agent: Kathleen Anderson, Anderson Literary Management. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
“The Face of Emotion is well worth reading. The scientific debate about the regulation of the emotions is as lively as ever, and this is a provocative and insightful contribution.”—New Scientist

“Even those who know all about [botox] will be intrigued.”—The New York Times

 

“A cool new book…there are real lessons to be learned.”—Self magazine

“A fascinating and entertaining survey of how our faces contribute to our emotions… important.”—Publishers Weekly

"Facial expressions drive our feelings, as Dr. Eric Finzi persuasively describes in The Face of Emotion. Brace yourself:  this enlightening, uplifting book will exercise your zygomatic major (smile).”—Jena Pincott, author of Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?: The Science Behind Love, Sex, and Attraction

“This groundbreaking book about the relationship between facial expressions and emotions is likely to provoke great interest. Eric Finzi — researcher, dermatologist and artist— has crossed traditional barriers to take us on a journey that starts with Charles Darwin, who first suggested an influence of the muscles of the face on the passions of the mind, and leads all the way to Botox as an unexpected potential treatment for depression.” —Norman E. Rosenthal, author of the New York Times bestseller Transcendence

 

Library Journal
Although approaching questions of mood and emotion from the unlikely field of dermatology, Finzi makes an interesting argument for the face’s control of affect, instead of the other way around. Although it would be easy to scoff at this seemingly backward thought, Finzi points to clinical trials in the Journal of Psychiatric Research as well as his own compelling anecdotal data, both of which seem to show that our faces control (at least in part) our moods. Using Botox to reduce the contractions of the muscles between the brow (the corrugator muscles), Finzi claims that his patients are experiencing less depression and anger and more positive effects in their relationships. Drawing upon psychology, art, the observations of Charles Darwin, and his own experience in his two DC-area medical practices, Finzi has written a book that will become a great conversation starter.

Verdict A great read for armchair psychologists and those interested in unforeseen side effects of plastic surgery. This will make for an interesting read for undergraduate students in psychology, especially those interested in mood and emotion.—Rachel M. Minkin, Michigan State Univ. Libs., Lansing
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230341852
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Finzi, MD, is the medical director and president of two dermatology practices in the DC area.  He has authored over 20 research publications and has been on the faculty of the Dermatology department at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. He is an active member of The American Academy of Dermatology, The American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, and The Washington Dermatologic Society. Dr. Finzi has been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and A&E, and has contributed to articles in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and US News & World Report, among others.

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