Unlike other voluntary muscles whose insertions and origins are on bone, the facial muscles insert into themselves! This means the “insertions” and “origins” of the facial muscles are other facial muscles, their connective tissue. The fact that the facial muscles insert into each other is what gives them their incredible plasticity.
Through their impact on the superficial fascia and the skin overlying it, we get all our expressions – anger, sadness, doubt, joy, fear, and their infinite variations – communicating our feelings in ways far more subtle and articulate than words.
These expressions of course don’t originate really with the muscles. Our feelings and expressions are a result of brain activity and the nervous system’s activating certain facial muscles.
Did you know though, that your brain’s activity is also a result of your facial expressions?
In a research in Germany, the subject was told to hold a pen between his teeth, because the facial expression produced actually resembled a smile and a grin. It affected the neurotransmitters in the brain, and produced certain happy chemicals which helped to change the mood state. In contrast, when they asked the subject to hold the pen in his mouth, which mimics a serious expression, there was no change in the mood state.
The Reader’s Digest, July 2007 also carried an article substantiating the same theory. Putting on a happy face not only helps us to make friends. It translates into a brain chemistry that makes us feel better. Ekman and University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson used brain scans to show that even an artificial smile activates some parts of the brain associated with pleasure and happiness. Click here for the study.
Finally, we can note that the primary source of information we have as people and as therapists about the emotional states of our clients is through their facial expressions.The face holds a treasure of information for us.
And of course what a pleasure it is, for us and our clients, at the end of the session to see their beautiful smiles and know that we have made a difference in their faces, their body and their minds.