July 6, 2022

The bioethics of Botox

The results of recent study in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science should make bioethicists consider the ethical dimension of Botox injections. Botox, which irons out wrinkles by paralysing facial muscles, makes people less empathetic, says David T. Neal, of the University of Southern California.

The results of recent study in the
journal Social Psychology and Personality Science should make
bioethicists consider the ethical dimension of Botox injections. Botox, which
irons out wrinkles by paralysing facial muscles, makes people less empathetic, says
David T. Neal, of the University of
Southern California. He writes:

“Imagine
yourself reading a gut-wrenching passage from a novel. Your face becomes
unconsciously engaged in an expression of anguish, and this outward expression
actually helps to amplify your inner emotional feeling.

“Paralyse
the facial expression, and the inner emotion becomes somewhat dulled and harder
for you to recognise. In support, one
study from the University of Wisconsin found that Botox patients were
significantly slower at understanding the emotional meaning of written passages
than their non-Botoxed counterparts.

And Dr Neal has found
that Botoxed people find it harder to read the emotions of other people, too.
He says that we read other people’s faces partially by mimicking them. With
paralysed facial muscles this becomes harder. He compared the emotional
reactions of patients who used a dermal filler to erase wrinkles with patients
who had been treated with Botox. “Sure enough,” he writes, “the Botox patients
performed significantly worse (around 7%) than the Restylane patients. Without
the ability to mimic, emotional mindreading becomes impaired.”

Will this impair the appeal of Botox? Not likely, says Dr Neal. “Being a little less empathetic may be a
small price to pay for getting a leg up in the beauty stakes.” ~ The
Conversation, June 28

Michael Cook
Botox
cosmetic surgery