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To Botox or not to Botox?

Botox is one of the most fascinating psychological phenomena in our culture – allowing us to freeze the emotion from our faces......

Our facial expressions allow us to relate to one another. The 'wrinkles' on our faces are a roadmap of a lifetimes emotional expression – Sadness grief or stress in the 'frown lines' around the mouth and nose. Surprise or shock in the lines of the forehead. Non-withstanding the dreaded crow’s feet (that ironically denote joy). The use of cosmetic medicine allows us to freeze and fill the emotional expression from our faces, diminishing our ability to express ourselves. So, why is it considered so desirable?

Consider this timeline:

  • During the second world war, botulinum toxin, a neurotoxin ( the bacterium derived from decomposing sausage bacteria) and considered to be deadliest substance in the world was being investigated for its use in biological warfare.

  • With the roaring 40’s in full swing researchers begin to explore the clinical benefits of botulinum (human trials were not approved until the late 70’s).

  • It’s the 80’s – everyone with shoulder pads, Miami Vice suits, munching on processed bleached ‘antibacterial’ white bread, coked out of their minds, looking for the next ‘get rich quick’ scheme and some genius (an ophthalmologist Dr. Alan B. Scott who was using Botox therapeutically in cross-eyed patients) discovers ‘hey you know you can use this stuff to treat wrinkles??!!’

  • Fast forward to 2002 and Botox is approved by the FDA in the US (the UK took a little longer having approval granted by the MHRA in 2006) for ‘cosmetic use’

  • A cultural revolution begins – spawning ‘Botox parties’ and a celebrity culture, establishing a cosmetic medicine industry that is now worth almost £3 billion on the UK alone.

Now go back to the beginning of this timeline – what do you notice?

The collective psycho-emotional impact of two world wars need not be underestimated here. Clinically over the last 30 years two industries that have serviced the public need for affective regulation and have flourished as a result are:

  1. Psychotropic medicne aka prescriptioned meds (reserved for another blog post)

  2. Aesthetic medicine

Notice the connection? Both of these products are predicated by intense human emotion. Or more specifically - the suppression of intense emotional states.

This collective fear of human affect, has seen us literally ‘erasing’ emotion from our lives. Is it any wonder we are experiencing epidemic levels of psychological illness? We are suppressing our emotions both cosmetically and clinically. I work with people every day who feel the need to push intense emotions aside, to minimise emotions or or sweep them under the rug.

We diagnose people as having 'mental health problems' but more often than not the issue stems from an emotional base. Emotions don't just disappear, in fact quite the opposite - the more we ignore them the louder they become. Don't believe me? Try and suppress a smile the next time you greet someone you love.

Emotions are adaptive, they help us survive. If we know how to work with them we can truly transform ourselves from the inside out, no Botox (or fillers) required!

So, before you Botox ask yourself this:

To Botox, or not to Botox that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

Personally, I don’t mind if you Botox or not, but before you do perhaps you could consider dealing with what lies beneath. Ask yourself, why those frown lines/ crow’s feet are there. What they mean, where they come from and how they have served or affected you. Own and deal with the emotions that underpin these enchanting little lines, and they will magically transform your life whether you decide to proceed with cosmetic intervention or not.

May your life be your masterpiece in progress. As ever we are becoming. L x

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