Botox (a drug prepared from Botulinum toxin, used to paralyse facial muscles) becomes increasingly popular and it is estimated more than a million treatments are carried out each year for cosmetic purposes. I won’t be held accountable for the Daily Mail reference that provided this figure, as it seems believable!
However, as a Psychologist, I am questioning the effects this could have on my work. Having always prided myself on being able to empathise with my patients, what if I can no longer accurately read their emotions and what if they see someone who cannot respond accordingly?
Some limited research has materialised about the impact Botox could have on reading human emotion. A study by David T Neal and Tanya L Chartrand analysed Botoxed women’s ability to label the appropriate human emotion when presented with various photographs of human eyes. Compared to a control, there was a small impairment identified. If someone with Botox is a little impaired in identifying emotion, in turn this may also impact upon their own response as is part of one’s own corresponding emotion (facial feedback hypothesis, FFH). They then can’t mirror the faces they are watching thus preventing full understanding of the person in front of them. In a profession where non-verbal communication is essential in rapport and collaborative working this would have huge consequences for psychologists and their patients.
So will my outcomes be less impressive if I opt for Botox as I wrinkle further into my 40’s?
Alternatively, if my clients have Botox, are they confusing me further and setting me up to fail? Similarly, will my patient referrals decline?
Another study on anxiety and depression ratings from the University of Cardiff showed that people who had frown-inhibiting Botox were happier than the control group.
What if both the client and psychologist have Botox?????
Perhaps it's time to move from the Harley Street area.