Tag Archives: emotions

Toxic Masculinity and Men’s Emotions

We talk a lot about how sexism affects women, but sexism is a double-edged sword. It not only has massive effects on women and how they go about their lives, but negatively impacts men in ways we tend to ignore. For example, consider young boys of about 12 or 13 – what emotions do they openly show? Do they hug their friends?

Now consider girls of the same age, and the difference is astounding. Young girls are very physically affectionate with their close friends; they openly share emotions and are seen showing a much wider range of them. Young boys are limited in their expression because of how our society views masculinity. Showing sadness is a sign of weakness, and elation is seen as caring too much. This leads to many problems with boys growing into men and the way they have relationships and show emotions later in life.

Many men in adulthood don’t have close friendships with other men the same way women do with other women. This is detrimental to their emotional and mental well-being and also causes issues when they get into relationships with women. There is a stigma in our society that only women can show emotions; therefore men may only show deep emotions to their female partners. This is unhealthy, and women must handle a lot of extra emotional labor because of this. Men must withhold their feelings until they have a female partner to share them with and feel vulnerable in front of. This is one of the leading reasons men have higher rates of suicide than women; women have built emotional support systems, while men are made to suffer alone or put the burden on only one person.

The stigmas surrounding men and their emotions need to come to an end, and putting value in those emotions is the first step towards that.

 

Cover Photo from “The Guardian”

‘Resting bitch face’ is real

The marvel you may know as “resting bitch face” actually exists, as indicated by scientists. Even better, there’s a study available that could clarify why resting bitch face (or RBF) is a real occurrence.

Some consider Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of England, to be the original RBF. Graphic from memecrunch.com
Some consider Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of England, to be the original RBF. Graphic from memecrunch.com

In research conducted in October 2015, scientists Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth from Noldus Information Technology, a company that creates programming for observational and behavioral research, utilized the company’s FaceReader software to analyze the faces of public figures with RBF, including Queen Elizabeth II, Anna Kendrick, Kanye West and Kristen Stewart.

Here’s how the software works: Scientists pick an image of an individual in which they aren’t smiling and run it through the FaceReader software. The software then registers the face and gives a rate of underlying feelings it’s picking up.

On a normal face-reading, the program will record a face at 97% neutral. The other 3% is an underlying emotion, Macbeth elucidated. That 3% is made of expressions that show traces of sadness, happiness or anger, for example.

Famous people with neutral faces are individuals like Jennifer Aniston and Blake Lively, Macbeth said. Although their faces are registered as neutral, onlookers will see Aniston and Lively’s faces as happy.

Cultural contrasts and gender bias may play a role in individuals’ impression of RBF. Eastern European people, for example are seen as non-expressive, while most people who are seen as having RBF are women, Macbeth stated.

But RBF is an existing occurrence, according to David B. Givens, director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Washington. He calls the condition blank face and said in studies, subjects judge a neutral, expressionless face to be “unfriendly.”

With regards to whether software can detect the emotions behind RBF, Anthony S. Youn, a board certified plastic surgeon in Detroit, said he doesn’t know if what Noldus‘ software is seeing are genuine expressions.

Macbeth and Rogers, both behavioral neuroscientists, want to expand their research to find out why some people have it and what RBF means in terms of a person’s psychology. Most importantly, they also want to figure out why individuals react and behave so negatively to a face with RBF.

Would you choose a lobotomy over fear?

There have been plenty of treatments for phobias over the years, and lobotomies aren’t the newest fad for this. However, one had recently been successful, as a 44-year old man lost a piece of his amygdala and, happily, his aversion to the creepiest of our little friends: the spider.

Though the surgery was not originally intended to cure the man’s arachnophobia, the side effect seems to be a welcome one. The procedure, known as a left temporal mesial lobectomy, was merely intended to deal with an abnormality in his left amygdala that doctors decided was the cause of his recent bout of seizures. Although the abnormality and accompanying seizures were part of his preexisting (and rather uncommon) condition known sarcoidosis, the bonus results are a happy outcome.

Lobotomy. Graphic by Jilletta Becker
Lobotomy. Graphic by Jilletta Becker

The amygdala is responsible for our emotional responses, so it isn’t new information that this ability to cut out someone’s fear is possible. However, this is the first documented case in which a specific fear was completely removed from a human being through surgery. Researchers are still not sure how exactly this was possible or how they might be able to recreate the results, but it seems to depend at least partially on what type of fear is being targeted.

Arachnophobia is a specific fear triggered by a specific image or idea which leads to panic. When it comes to more general anxieties or fear, scientists do not yet know if the same results could be achieved.

In another case, however, a 44-year old mother was able to lose all her fear after illness permanently damaged her amygdala. Scientists have been studying her for over 20 years, yet despite their research, have not come to fully understand how the disease worked to only eliminate one emotion from the woman, despite her entire amygdala being damaged by the disease.

Perhaps this isn’t a time for science to be too involved in recreating a situation, though, and perhaps this is why it doesn’t seem to be something anyone is working too hard to develop. Even though it sounds like a great relief to feel no fear, the woman has recounted several stories in which she was in danger due to her inability to recognize the emotion. The same could perhaps be true and therefore an issue for the 44-year old man who no longer fears our creepy, eight-legged friends.

Without our emotions to drive us and warn us when necessary, are we still fully capable humans? Perhaps it’s better not to find out.