We can think of the human face as a sculpture of a masterpiece that reflects deep emotions and resonates with the past – where the sculptor has not yet made the final touch.
Every object we touch causes a stimulation on our skin, and each experience creates an interaction in our brain; that’s how we can interpret Darwin’s views in simple terms.
According to Darwin, chronic depression causes various wrinkles on the human face. Just like the touches a painter brings out the emotions he wants to express while creating his painting, the emotional patterns we experience in life tend to transform our faces. There are many examples among different beliefs and cultures: “Destiny”, “doom” and “fate” are some of the common words describing emotions in our collective memory.
Way ahead of his time, Darwin’s extraordinary ideas indicating that there are intrinsic templates of human facial expressions hidden deep in our brains have opened the door to countless discoveries and inspired research.
As human beings we have different reactions to different faces. Our brains are hard-coded to categorize a clean and young face without any wrinkles as a sign of innocence and good will; whereas a forehead full of deep wrinkles is often considered as a sign of traumas and hurtful experiences.
Darwin’s work on the human face and the expression of emotions tells us that the human face is a fragment of one’s life — representing a combination of both the present life and the inheritance (historical traumas / cultural embodiment).
It is noteworthy that Darwin’s views are still valid even in modern times where we have access to “advanced” social platforms and sophisticated communication tools. We still value facial expressions more than words.
D. Kenan Akyol (Psychologist)
(Special thanks to Mathieu Laca for the permission to use his painting.)