This is a photograph of me as a kid.
Actually, it is a photograph from one of my family’s 8mm home movies, which was converted to videotape, played back on a raster television monitor and paused on this frame. I don’t remember what I was feeling at that particular moment and request your assistance in identifying the expression on my face.
Those who have read my blog know that my older brother, Michael, is very low functioning, nonverbal and autistic. I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s when autism wasn’t well known.
Knowing Michael through expressions
In an earlier post, I reported on an interesting book written by Charles Darwin: The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Through this book I became interested in learning about my brother through his expressions, since I haven’t learned much from him through other channels. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been much scientific work about expressions since Darwin’s book, which was written in 1872, until Paul Ekman’s book: Unmasking the Face: A Guide to Recognizing Emotions From Facial Expressions (2003). Dr. Ekman is a consultant to the writers of a TV show called ‘Lie to Me’. It is about a deception expert who uses the involuntary muscle twitches, the constituents of micro expressions, to detect who is truthful and who is not.
Applying knowledge of expressions to siblings
I venture to say that some of my feelings as the sibling of a severely handicapped person are the same as kids today growing up in a similar circumstance. I have some ideas as to what my expression means in the picture above, even though it might be a macro expression, but I would really like to know your opinions. Is this a recognizable expression to any of you? Have you ever noticed in anyone in your family or in yourself?
It is important to know the emotional state of a sibling in order to provide the necessary attention and care that he or she may need.
I hope you will reply with a comment.
After I read Dr. Ekman’s book I will try analyzing my photo through his eyes and report my findings.
Thank you all very much.
I’m seeing a rather withdrawn, mildly confused kid in this photo. Not sure that’s what you’re looking for. I will be sharing your link with a friend who works with Autistic children, and be looking for “Lie To Me” on TV. Thx!
Thank you for commenting!
I am trying to reconcile my memories of my past with reality. I don’t really know how important it is to have them in register, but I figure that it might provide some me some insight. I realize this can’t be done with one photo.
A larger purpose is to see if expressions of siblings of severely handicapped people are worth decoding (or if they are in need of decoding) so that they may get what care they need.