fierce attachments

a mother-daughter blog about the fierce attachments in our lives… title inspired by Vivian Gornick's wonderful memoir

Tag: empathy

Chris Bully Boy Christie: Obesity and Empathy and the New Jersey Govenor

by nikki meredith

Chris Christie snarlingWhen I was in high school, my best friend and I were walking across the parking lot at a southern California beach where my family camped every summer. Three boys our age were walking towards us. My friend and one of the boys, a hefty guy…okay, a fat guy, got into one of those do-si-do routines: each time she stepped to the left, he stepped to his right; each time he stepped to his left, she stepped to her right – neither one could move forward. It’s the kind of situation where someone with good humor, if not much wit, says, “Shall we dance?”  This guy, however, had neither good humor nor wit. He planted his feet in a wide stance, folded his arms, and snarled, “I’m not going to move.”

My friend put her hands on her hips and examined him from head to girth to foot. “You couldn’t move,” she said, “even if you wanted to.”

I was gobsmacked.  On the one hand, I’d been taught by my parents never, ever, to ridicule or even comment on a person’s physical traits.  On the other, I wanted to yell a 1960’s equivalent of you go girl. The guy was a bully and clearly the back-up of his snickering buddies bolstered his bullishness.

I think of that incident and my dual reaction almost every time I see Chris Christie on television and I’ve been seeing him a lot lately because of an incident involving the George Washington bridge where he is alleged to have thrown his weight around with, if not dire consequences, certainly inconvenient ones for a considerable number of people. I’ll get to that in a minute but first let’s review some highlights of the Gov’s bullying tendencies: Read the rest of this entry »

the botoxed heart

by nikki meredith

My husband wouldn’t smile at me. To be fair, he, more accurately, couldn’t smile at me. He was hit in the mouth with a hockey stick and required stitches both inside and outside. He’s a long time hockey player so over the years he’s had many injuries – this wasn’t even close to the worst (black eyes, cracked ribs, broken teeth) — but this one was the most painful for me. I had to get through each day without that particular physical manifestation of love and approval from him and it was as effective as an anti-Prozac. I realized that given the choice: no sex for a month; no smile for a week, I’d choose the first. It didn’t matter one wit that he might have been smiling on the inside, my heart hurt.

I thought about this experience recently when I read a New York Times report in about a study that seemed to demonstrate that Botox not only neutralizes how one looks, it neutralizes how one feels, particularly how one feels empathy. At issue is ”embodied cognition” — the way in which facial feedback helps people perceive emotion. In one experiment, women who had been injected with Botox were asked to look at a set of photographs of human eyes and match them with human emotions. Women with Botox were significantly less accurate at decoding both positive and negative facial expressions than the women in the control group. Read the rest of this entry »

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