Breast Implants and High Rates of Suicide: Body Language of “Self”

Posted February 22, 2011 by vinceharris
Categories: Uncategorized

Today, any woman with a credit card can have breasts of about any size she would like.  I don’t know too many men-myself included- that don’t appreciate the work of a skilled cosmetic surgeon. And, while many, it seems, view a pair of “knock-off” Nike shoes as nothing they would want in their closet, with only an authentic pair of Nike’s being worthy of wearing, a quick stroll down the beach will confirm that most men don’t feel the same about breasts. Real, or not, who cares; a busty young lady strolling by in a bikini with her top spilling over with silicone will turn just as many heads and ignite just as many “fire’s” as the real thing.

However, when we look at those who get breast implants (as it relates to non-verbal communication) the landscape changes radically. Apart from the fact, that as a male, my eyes are biologically drawn to certain areas of a woman’s body(before I can even be aware of it consciously), there are things I am using as part of my assessment when doing a body language analysis; things that for others, only serve as a distraction. While many women-especially those with implants-would like to think otherwise, most men can quickly tell you who has implants, and who doesn’t. Gravity is not selective; when you see 45 year old women with breasts that don’t move when she walks, you’re not looking at a genetic anomaly, in most cases.

With all other things being equal, and without access to other information,  I can draw some pretty accurate generalizations about a woman, just by knowing that she has implants, and yes, this is body language. Will I be right all of the time? No. Will I be right far more than I am wrong? Absolutely!

Six well designed and high quality studies have been conducted, looking at the psychological profile of women who get breast implants. (Again, let me stress, these are generalizations, meaning, they won’t be true of every single woman with breast implants. It will be true, though, when looking at this group as a whole, and will apply to a great many of the women within this group)

In an article published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2007, it was revealed that the suicide rate of women who have had breast augmentation as being double that of the general population. Another study in the Netherlands showed the suicide rate was triple in women with breast implants. Furthermore, they found these women were more likely to:

  • more frequently use alcohol and tobacco
  • have a higher divorce rate
  • have had more sexual partners
  • report higher use of oral contraceptives
  • be younger at first pregnancy
  • have had an abortion
  • have a below average body weight, leading to concern that some may be experiencing eating disorders
  • have a history of psychiatric problems

Realize that these studies do not infer that getting breast implants causes these things. Conversely, it hints at the idea of the psychological makeup of women who get breast implants, also lines up with the type of person who is at a higher risk for suicide etc.

This is one series of studies that, upon first seeing them, made perfect sense to me. After all, a safe bet is that most women getting implants didn’t like their body (and thus themselves) when they had smaller breasts, and felt like they would feel “normal” after they got bigger “boobs”. And, for some, that seems to be the case.

For far more, though, we are finding that the implants make no difference, and they still feel as “flawed” as they did beforehand. Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote about these concepts years ago in his landmark book, Psycho-Cybernetics published in 1960.

Maltz was a plastic surgeon who often saw patients who were still dissatisfied with how they looked, even after plastic surgery. Maltz found that the real problem was at the level of self-concept, self-esteem, or body image, and, that until corrected in their mind, no amount of cosmetic work would help.

So it is years later; studies show that women seeking breast augmentation have often been teased about their breast size, have low self-esteem, and have suffered and/or been treated for some type of psychological disorder. Every single woman? Of course not, but a rather significant portion of them.
Over the years, I have had, as clients, several women with breast augmentation, a couple of them working as strippers. If you were to meet them on the street, they projected an outward image of utter confidence, poise and really looked like they had it together. In fact, there were a couple who looked like they stepped right out of the pages of Playboy magazine; they were stunningly beautiful.

However, on the inside, they were as insecure as they come, full of self-doubt, and had been depressed throughout much of their adult lives. It was a case of “what you see is NOT what you get”.

Therefore, one useful generalization you can make, when reading people with a limited amount of exposure and information, is that women with breast implants are likely dealing with some less than useful self-esteem/self-concept challenges. Based on current studies, you’ll be right more often than you’ll be wrong.

Body language and non-verbal communication is a fascinating and never-ending journey, one that offers the ability to make more accurate decisions, communicate more effectively and learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible. If you are a man, I probably won’t have to twist your arm to get you to start paying more attention to a woman’s breasts.

 If you are a woman, there is nothing that you or anyone else can do to get men to stop looking at breasts. It is what it is. It was going on 500 years ago, and, if this ball in the sky is still here, it will be going on 500 years from now. I have a feeling that most women know this anyway.

 In fact, a recent study showed that 47% of men looked at a woman’s breasts first, around 1/3 looked at their hips and waist first, with only 20% of the men looking at a woman’s face, first. No matter what men looked at, first, though, when they did look at the breasts, they looked longer there, than anywhere else.

Remember, even body language clues that don’t apply to every single person, in every single situation, can be useful as a part of the overall information you use in your assessment. Of course, something as reliable as an asymmetrical facial expression (signaling contempt) is best, when available, but that won’t always be the case. Use what you have, and continually refine your skills, and before too long, you’ll find it’s become second nature.

© Copyright 2011-Vincent Harris-All Rights Reserved.


Why “Hot” Women are on the Cover of Women’s AND Men’s Magazines

Posted September 10, 2010 by vinceharris
Categories: Uncategorized

Every time I stop at a magazine rack, my brain is blasted with images of very sexy women in bikinis. Interestingly, it’s not just men’s magazines; both men’s and women’s magazines have sexy women on the cover. Now, please understand, this is okay with me; I like looking at attractive, well tanned women in bikinis-turns out that  while most women don’t feel good about seeing these women on the cover, these are the best images to have on the cover of women’s magazines from a marketing and revenue perspective.

First, let’s cover something that Dr. Kevin Hogan so often points out, and that so many people seem to forget; the primary purpose of ANY business is to make a profit…period. Unless that is happening, it matters very little how altruistic the “mission” of a business may be, or in how many ways they want to change the world. Truth is, whatever the mission or goal, it will be accomplished more quickly and on a much grander scale, when the business is making a profit.

With that being said, magazine editors are doing exactly what they should be doing, regarding the gender of their models on the glossy cover page. In my Ph.D. program, I’m always excited when new research based on brain imaging comes out. Much of the subjectivity is stripped away, and we get close-very close-to the truth when we use this kind of technology.

A neuroscientist at Brigham Young University, Mark Allen, used fMRI brain scans to prove that there was no difference in how the brain of a healthy woman and the brain of bulemic women reacted when it was suggested that they were overweight. The articles that are written in these magazines are designed, primarily, to infer that a woman is overweight. Why? To SELL things, of course. We now know that the brains of women are literally “hardwired” to have body image concerns and worries, and savvy marketers are utilizing this fact, not only on the cover of the magazine, but throughout the pages inside as well.

So, what did Dr. Allen find? While using the fMRI machines to conduct the scans, thin women were asked to view images of other women-some overweight, and others very lean and fit. As they looked at the images, they were told to think about someone else telling them that the model they were viewing looked like they did.

When, the images of the “heftier” or overweight women were shown, the pre-frontal cortex of these thin women, lit up like a Christmas tree. The simple act of thinking about the fact that they might be overweight-even in a pretend situation-caused women to question their identity and sense of who they were, even though they claimed that this was not the case. The fMRI tells the story much more accurately than the women did with their  conscious and verbal explanations.

Not too surprisingly (to me), men could care less whether the image of men they were asked to look at was fat or thin; the fMRI showed no difference in brain activity.

In short, magazine publishers make the millions and millions of dollars they generate, by using a hard wired fear that most women have about body image, and exploiting it with pictures and articles that suggest they are too heavy.

Why do they put women on the front of men’s magazines? Do you really have to ask?

It’s funny, growing up, anytime I heard someone talk about “Playgirl” magazine, images danced through my mind of gorgeous women secretly harboring this magazine so they could feast their eyes on the latest naked male celebrity. How wrong I was; little did I know (and most still don’t) that “Playgirl” magazine was designed for gay men…NOT women.

Nothing is an accident in marketing, these days.

Men and women: equal rights? Yes. Equal brain structure and function? Afraid not.

Women will continue to look at the fitness model and feel some level of inferiority…thus buying some product or service, and men will continue to look at the fitness model and ….slobber…and buy some product or service. It’s really as simple as that.

© Copyright 2010-Vincent Harris-All Rights Reserved.

Be Watching…

Posted August 23, 2010 by vinceharris
Categories: Uncategorized

Just a short note to let you know of a possible (likely-but the ink is not dry) upcoming celebrity event I will be co-hosting in early 2011.

Also, lots of new products, coaching programs and a new certification program for executive coaches coming soon….stay tuned!

Quote of the Week

Posted August 23, 2010 by vinceharris
Categories: Uncategorized

Great gossip is just what’s going on. Evil gossip is stuff that is wicked, mean, and nasty; the kind most folks truly enjoy.

-Chuck Peavey

Overcoming “Tough Times”: A Different Kind of Cinderella Story

Posted August 12, 2010 by vinceharris
Categories: Uncategorized

 I love stories of individuals who overcome the odds, who fight through tragedy-and prevail, and, most of all destroy the myths that certain events in life must “scar” or otherwise “traumatize” us.

If you’ve been following me for long, you know I am crazy about classic rock and 80’s music, and the band Cinderella is one band that I have been grooving to for a quarter of a century, now. Tom Keifer, lead singer for the band, offers another little bit of inspiration for us, when we slip into thinking times are “hard”.

Think about this for a moment; you are the lead singer of one of the hottest bands of the 80’s, and after completing a wildly successful tour, you discover that your voice is gone. Of course, you likely panic, and seek medical attention, having several surgeries to correct your vocal cords…and the surgeries fail. Shortly thereafter, your mother dies of cancer, your band breaks up, and you and your wife of several years divorce.

 Sounds like a load, right? I would agree that it IS a load; I would also agree that it’s no surprise, to me, that Tom Keifer of Cinderella ( who this all happened to) and the rest of the band got back together, and in 2006, were one of the most successful acts on the road averaging 20,000 fans per night! Events are events, and what happens after ANY event is the result of how we PROCESS that event. Some lie down and die, crying the “poor me” song. Others, shed a few tears, come up swinging, and get their a%^ back in the saddle. Guess what Tom chose?!

In 2008, Tom’s left vocal cord “blew out” during a performance, once again grinding his career to a halt. Guess what, they are touring now, in 2010, and pulling folks in left and right once again.

Tom did experience a bout of “depression”…or a period where he was having lots of depressing thoughts and feelings, but the events of his life did not determine his future, or cause him to throw in the towel.

The next time you tell someone about something that happened to you, and they say “Oh my, I’ve heard that kind of thing will ‘scar’ you forever!” Look at them with a gentle smile and say “No, but that THOUGHT is going to SCAR you forever!”

Now, I’ve got to go, because I have a pair of faded jeans –ripped and with holes- that I need to find to wear to the Cinderella Concert!

© Copyright-2010-Vincent Harris-All Rights Reserved.

Stroke Victims and Kids: There’s No Such Thing as “First Grade” Word

Posted August 1, 2010 by vinceharris
Categories: Uncategorized

I brag on my daughter a lot; I can’t help it, or at least, choose not to. I waited until I was 37 to have a child (actually it was my wife who did the “having” part) and I find that my buttons are popping almost daily as I watch her grow…and damn it, I’m gonna brag.

When she started in pre-school, I often heard teachers talking about words as though they were in age related categories. Like there were “kindergarten” words, “First grade” words etc. I knew better. While my graduate degree and doctoral work is in the area of psychology, my bachelors degree is in elementary education. I love teachers, I respect teachers; the patience required is unthinkable, and I have been nothing but happy with the teachers my daughter has had. They are a rare breed.

What I was not impressed with, while getting my education degree, and remain less than happy with, today, is the unimaginable “cookie cutter” teaching structure that the powers that be demand these teachers to use. One such concept that I see used, is this idea that once a child has learned a “simple” “kindergarten” word; they can progress to a “first grade” word. Garbage!

My daughter was using the word “mellifluous” (which means “smooth”) when she was 4 years old. She used it, largely because of the fact that I used it, when talking to her, and she attached the meaning of “smooth” to it, just as easily as she would have an “easier” word.

New research with those who have had a stroke gives us further insight in this area. When the brain has been damaged due to a stroke-and the person experiences aphasia, or difficulty speaking and understanding language-they progress much faster when they are required to start with hard words, instead of “simple” words.

The reason for this is simple, really. Your brain stores information in a way that makes the stuff we need access to most often, very easy to get to. Material that we don’t need or use as much, is far less easy to reach and access. Think of it like this; when you have socks you have not worn for a long time, but need today, in the bottom of the sock drawer, you will have to go through all of those on top, to get to that one pair on the bottom. If all you do is grab a pair on top, each day, though, you only notice or touch THAT pair.

The brain, then, when given a harder word to learn; one that won’t be used that often, will be stored at the “bottom” of the “sock drawer”. Then, each time that word is practiced, you’ll have to sort through all of the more frequently used words in the top of the drawer, making your recovery with those words more effective, indirectly.

So, does your kindergarten child know “Dog”, “Cat”, and “Barn” etc. already? Good…now start with “sophisticated” “rudimentary” and other “non-kindergarten” words like that.  I can tell you this much, you will be surprised to discover how easily they assimilate words like these, and the connections they will make to the more basic words in their vocabulary is nothing short of amazing.

Yes, it may sound weird to others, when they hear me talk to my daughter about the “delicate intricacies of a sophisticated pocket watch”, and I have no desire that she use words of this nature when talking to me (although she sometimes does), but I know that doing so, causes her to sort through, many more times each day, the more basic words for children her age, and will help her build a rich and colorful vocabulary.

 After all, the words we have to describe the world are what place the limits on our experience of the world. Want a richer experience of a vacation in the mountains? Develop a more diverse vocabulary for that region. Because snow is such an important part of the life of an Inuit in the Northern regions, they have as many as several dozen words for snow. Because they have more words for snow, they notice more things about snow than people who simply have “snow” as the sole word to describe the white stuff falling from the sky. In short, the richer the vocabulary, the richer the experience and the more nuances noticed. It’s really as simple as that.

So, coming full circle, back to “levels” or words, take this out into the world and find out for yourself. American adults often say “Chinese would be hard to learn”, and yet, millions and millions of Chinese babies, learn it with ease. They are simply sounds…sounds that translate into labels for experiences, and with words, then, we name and recognize certain experiences.

Your child is capable of so much more; let them show you how easy it really is.

© Copyright 2010-Vincent Harris-All Rights Reserved.

Teenage Drug Use and Children of Divorced Parents: Why it Pays to Question Everything

Posted July 27, 2010 by vinceharris
Categories: Uncategorized

All across the nation, parents, teachers, and yes…even kids, believe that taking and passing a driver’s education class, will lead to a safer teenage driver, and ultimately, save lives. It sounds logical, does it not? One little problem with this belief; when data is examined closely, there is no reduction in crashes in those taking these driving classes. It does not, because it cannot. It cannot, because, developmentally, the brain of 16 year old drivers-more specifically, the frontal lobe-is simply not “mature” enough to make the kind of decisions that lead to safer driving, no matter how much training they get.

To date, there is one-and ONLY one- thing that has decreased crashes among teen drivers; a graduated licensing program. These programs delay the age these drivers are eligible to drive at night, or when they can have others in the car. How much of a decrease? 20-30%

Here’s another one; you’ve likely heard of the D.A.R.E. program, or the Drug, Abuse Resistance Education program. It’s a 17 week school program, with speakers, films, lectures, role playing etc.

It has been hugely popular (remember, popular and effective don’t necessarily go hand in hand) and there is a D.A.R.E. program in my hometown. The intentions are good, the people who volunteer are warm, loving and above all, concerned, but even though 97 % of teachers give it a “good” rating, and 93% of parents do the same, studies show that it has no long term effect on those who take the course.

In fact, in the United States, of 718 drug prevention programs, of 41…yes…41 of them had ANY positive impact, after an extensive study looked at them all very closely.

How about this one. A review of some 200 studies recently revealed that students with high self-esteem do not get higher grades, or advance any further in their careers, later, and most important, perhaps, is the discovery that high self-esteem did not lower alcohol use or violence. (In fact, some of the most aggressive and violent people actually have very high self-esteem). One study showed that when college aged kids were close to failing their classes, their grades sank even lower when they were given esteem building praise.

One thing I’m almost always asked, by some of the participants of my seminars and presentations, is how come no one else is teaching or sharing the stuff I am; stuff that they have almost never heard before. My answer is simple. It’s because most people are simply teaching whatever happens to be popular, widely accepted, or has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, a great deal of that is highly inaccurate and false.

If you will examine your life, currently, you will find that many of the things you do, and many of the decisions you make each day, all stem from a belief you have, that you only have, because your parents did. Likewise, they only had this belief because their parents did, and on and on it goes. Sometimes, even when new evidence surfaces, rendering what these beliefs were based on impotent, the belief will survive many generations, simply because no one ever takes the time to question the belief, and ask “Is this really true? And if it is, what is it based on…show me the evidence!”

Today, many men and women still hold on to the belief that children of divorced parents will be “scarred” and “damaged” forever. Because of this, many adults subject children to a far more damaging life, by staying together, and raising their kids in a house where the parents do not love one another, and fight on a frequent basis.

E. Mavis Hetherington, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, and the author of “For Better or for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered” found that the negative long term impact of divorce has been “exaggerated to the point that society has created a self fulfilling prophecy” Because society tells us “If your parents divorced, you will have problems and be scarred. Many children simply live out what they have been programmed to live. Hetherington’s research found that the adults who were children when their parents divorced, while looking back and describing their parents divorce as painful for a short time initially, were, for the most part, very successful in their lives, with many of them having become far more resilient, and better able to handle the ups and downs of their adult lives, because of the divorce.

In short, it’s not the reality of the divorce that causes challenges, as much as it is the expectations we have developed about the effects, based, largely, on mis-information.

I have learned to question everything in life. Anthony Robbins likes to say “Society may predict, but only I determine, my future!” I agree.

© Copyright 2010-Vincent Harris