SMILING IS NOT THAT SIMPLE…

(License: Public Domain]: Flickr

Recently, aside from phone calls and chatting on social media, me and my significant other really haven't spent quality time together because of the nature of our jobs. With that, we decided to take a little moment off work and have dinner together at my place. Actually, the whole idea was from mum who really has not seen her for a while now. The plan was that she'd come to my office early enough and we'll both head home from there. Unfortunately, after hurrying to finish all the piled up work, she didn't show up. Anyways, she called much later to apologize that her boss indirectly ruined our day by organizing an impromptu meeting after they might have closed for the day. Funny enough, although I pretended not to be angry, deep inside I was boiling already.

At the office, one of my colleagues, a very close pal came to inquire about a file and I somehow had to transfer the whole aggression that was built up inside on him. The good thing is that this guy is a clown and bullshits don't get to him easily. He didn't actually take my rudeness seriously. Before leaving my office, he gave me this funny pouting face and then said "continue carrying face like someone suffering from Moebius Syndrome".

Although I didn't know what moebius syndrome meant, I couldn't help but laugh. All the same, the next day I got to learn more about this disorder from him and also did a personal research on it too. Hence, the main aim of this article is to provide some level of enlightenment on this 'social serial killer' called the Moebius Syndrome.

Starting from the basis... Concept of the moebius syndrome

A normal girl with two other girls suffering from moebius syndrome (License: Public Domain]: Flickr

The importance of facial expressions in our daily lives can never be overemphasized. As a matter of fact, it's believed to be a display of one's truest emotional state. Well, you don't need the angels to tell you that an individual is either happy or sad if the person is smiling or crying as the case may be. However, to an extent, the above premise is not entirely logical because facial expression is subject to voluntary control and may necessarily not reflect an ideal state of emotion. That's notwithstanding, facial expressions still remain key to human bonding. So on that note, it might interest you to know that they're people that try as much as possible to express emotions facially but cannot because of a physiological disorder that they were born with. As a result of this, even in their happiest moment, what is visible is a confused face.

According to the national organization for rare disorders (NORD),

moebius syndrome also known as the congenital facial diplegia syndrome is a rare neurological disorder characterized by weakness or paralysis (palsy) of multiple cranial nerves.

From the above statement, moebius syndrome is said to be congenital, meaning that affected individuals suffer from it right from birth. The unfortunate thing is that, till date, no scientific research has convincingly pinpointed the cause of this disorder. Well, despite the fact that moebius syndrome is sporadic in nature; most researchers believe that the disorder result from genetic abnormally and therefore can be inherited. Lets pause a little. Now, since the cause of moebius syndrome is currently unknown, the only way researchers could explain the concept of this disorder was to elaborate more on the physiological effects. Apparently, according to several research studies, the most outstanding resultant effect of this disorder is its ability to alter the functions of numerous cranial nerves. With that in mind, we'll move ahead to the next thing.

Physiological effects of moebius syndrome

(License: Public Domain]: pixabay

As earlier stated, although moebius syndrome is a problem of the central nervous system, its resultant effects are always quite visible. In a word, the disorder can be described as being symptomatic. For instance, most people (like my friend) link inability to smile to this disorder because they've heard, and probably might have seen that it affects one's facial expression. However, the truth is that this particular idea to some extent is not complete. Literally, we can say that it's just a tip of the iceberg. Moebius syndrome is not just a facial expression impairment. On the other hand, for the purpose of this article we'll not dive deeper into other aspects. Also, as far as humans are concerned, smiling is just a mere subset of the term 'facial expression'. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not in any way saying that these people are wrong; all I'm saying is that moebius syndrome is definitely more than just an inability to smile.

(License: Public Domain]: Flickr

I don't think I'll be far from the truth if I say that for one to grasp the physiological effects of moebius syndrome, the person must first understand the cranial nerves and its functions, as well as what could possibly happen if these functions are altered. At this point, lets digress a little... Based on findings, cranial nerves are known to originate directly from the central nervous system (specifically the brain), and there are twelve (12) in number. Furthermore, on the brain, there are arranged sequentially from the front to the back (brainstem). And just like any other nerve in the human body, the basic function of the cranial nerves is to relay information. Well, the transmission of this information is between the brain and other parts of the body like the head and neck regions. At the same time, it's worthy of note that the functions of each of these cranial nerves differ one from another. To learn more on this, I suggest you go through Wikipedia article on the said topic or check on All 12 cranial nerves and their functions

If you did went through the above articles, you'll find out that the 6th and 7th cranial nerves (known as abducens and facial nerves respectively) are responsible for facial expressions. Yeah, you heard me right. I know someone might likely feel I made a mistake by including the 6th cranial nerve (abducens) since it's basically known for triggering the laterus rectus muscle. A muscle that initiates the movement of the eyes in all directions. However, don't forget what I said earlier, facial expression is definitely more than just smiling. If you still doubt the connection of abducen nerve with facial expression then you should probably try winking, puckering your lips, raising your eyebrows or closing your eyelids. You'll agree with me that in all these expressions, the movement of the eye is very vital. Now, imagine a situation where these two nerves (6th and 7th) are altered in humans. Trust me, even a robot could be better than such a person. Unfortunately, this is the weird condition victims of moebius syndrome are predisposed to.

...it's more than a disorder; it's an irremovable mask

(License: Public Domain]: Pixabay

According to Dale Carnegie,

"The expression a woman wears on her face is far more important than the clothes she wears on her back".

This assertion goes a long way to showcase the importance of facial expression amongst humans. Well, after considering what victims of moebius syndrome go through, don't you think life is pretty unfair to them?. They can't smile, frown, pout, wink or even express themselves facially in any way for the rest of their lives. Quite a boring life I guess. Aside from being boring, the psychological consequences are enormous. From low self-esteem to depression, the list is endless. Their excitement, sadness and anxiety are masked in such a way that they sometimes feel that they don't belong here on earth.

How did I get to know this?. Luckily, while working on this article I stumbled on a story about a couple that are suffering from this disorder. According to them, making friends back then in school was the most difficult thing on earth since most people saw them as psychopaths. The truth is, no one would want to be friends with a person that can't smile. But somehow, love brought them together. You can read the incredible love story HERE

Final thoughts

Honestly, the worse thing about moebius syndrome is that it's inborn and there's absolutely no remedy for it. From several research studies, it has been proven that the only way of helping individuals suffering from this disorder is by improving their mental health through supportive measures. Personally I feel living with this disorder would be a lot easier if these victims are loved rather than being bullied and discriminated. Furthermore, the good thing is that we now have online platforms where people suffering from this disorder share their challenges and experiences to help encourage others.

For you that's not suffering from moebius syndrome, no matter what happens, don't ever allow anything rob you of that smile. I hope you've learned something from this article. Thanks for doing this with me. Till next time!

To read more about this topic, check out these REFERENCES

Articles of National Institute of Health on moebius syndrome. Retrieved on 3rd December, 2018
Many faces of moebius syndrome. Retrieved on 3rd December, 2018
Moebius syndrome from wikipedia.org
Moebius syndrome treatment and management from medscape.com

Image source

Images are from flickr and pixabay, all licensed under creative commons and eligible for commercial use.

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