You’d think a room full of naked young men would be something to smile about. You’d think a bunch of hot bodies displaying hard cock would chase anyone’s blues away. But just for a minute pull your eyes away from the naked guys having sex on the stage at a gogo bar in Thailand and check out the faces of your fellow bar-goers and you’d think you’d got it wrong. Evidently the correct facial response is to look like you need to pass gas. But forgot how. Throw in the non-stop whining by sexpats over drink prices, the rising cost of bar boy tips, boys who perform badly, smoking, and loud music and you’ll start wondering why in the hell Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles.
The disenfranchised elderly who frequently visit Thailand or who decided to spend their golden years living there in search of a sex life can be a miserable bunch. Remember that old song that goes “when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you?” Well in Thailand’s gay ghettos populated by ancient farang they’re all about turning that smile upside down. Misery loves company is a much more popular mantra. If a ready source of young nubile men isn’t enough to make you happy, is there any hope? When a happy ending is just around the corner nightly, shouldn’t that be enough to alleviate your grumpy old man complex? Are we all doomed to spending our golden years looking like the blue bird of happiness just shat on our heads?
Yup. Smells like science to me.
The facial feedback hypothesis has been a well-established part of psychological therapy for years. It says that our emotions are reinforced and perhaps even driven by corresponding facial expressions. Scientists have long believed that if we force a smile on our face when we’re down, we will actually start to feel happier. And people will stop avoiding us. A glorious smile may even induce a bar’s boys to stop playing with their cell phons for a minute. A recent study done at the University of Cardiff in Wales backs up this theory. And may have discovered the answer to putting a smile on Thailand’s sexpat population’s faces: Botox.
The study, published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, found that people whose ability to frown is compromised by cosmetic botox injections are happier, on average, than people who can frown. The researchers administered an anxiety and depression questionnaire to participants, half of whom had received frown-inhibiting botox injections. The botox recipients reported feeling happier and less anxious in general. More important, they did not report feeling any more attractive, which suggests that the emotional effects were not driven by a psychological boost that could come from the treatment’s cosmetic nature. That also suggests that despite what Joan Rivers may think, injecting Botulinum toxin into your face does not make you any better looking – though it may cause laughter in other people who see the results.
But then since we’re trying to put a smile on the faces of sexpats here, and not trying to do something about how hideous and generally ridiculous they often look, let’s stick to smile therapy. Part of the problem in attempting to bring the look of happiness to Thailand’s sexpat community is that many farang underestimated living expenses and can barely afford a night out with a bar boy, much less costly Botox treatments. But research suggests that it may not be necessary for every grumpy sexpat to pony up to have a toxic substance injected into their face. It’s possible the destitute could ban together and pay for treatments for just one of their buddies.
Research done by Dr. Eric Finzi, a cosmetic surgeon in Maryland who injected Botox into frown lines around the mouth or in the forehead furrows of clinically depressed patients, found the treatment eliminated depression symptoms in nine out of 10 patients, and reduced symptoms in the 10th. At the same time, Finzi’s results showed – using the facial-feedback hypothesis – that when a depressed person can’t frown because of Botox treatments, then others won’t frown back at them.
Part of Finzi’s study showed that a depressed, grumpy person frowning at others results in those people frowning back at them, which further deepens that miserable person’s sense of depression and unhappiness. That’s known as a feedback loop and shows that frowns, like smiles (and like LMTU) are infectious. A side benefit is that Botox also inhibits sweating, and that too can make those around you a bit more happy about your presence. And that’s something to smile about.
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