Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

January 17, 2001 | Volume 2, Issue 1

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Acute Frightening Causes Permanent Freezing of “Funny” Facial Expressions in Children

New study confirms age-old folk wisdom

ST. LOUIS, MO—Physicians at Washington University today announced that children who get a fright while making a so-called "funny" face are likely to have their faces permanently frozen in a grotesque, hideous mask.

The study gave credence to a widely held folk belief that children should avoid making "funny" faces, because their faces might stay that way.

Chronic Facial Googliness
sufferer Timmy Wilkinson

The announcement was enthusiastically received by a coalition of parents and teachers, who had long claimed that youngsters who crossed their eyes, stuck out their tongues, or pushed their nose-tips up to look like piggies could sustain irreversible facial dysmorphism if frightened during the act.

The risk of children's faces sticking in a given position was particularly high when "funny" faces were made during dinner, leading some experts to suggest that insulin levels might play a role in the phenomenon.

Study author Dr. Gilbert Stevens, of Missouri Children's Hospital, said he was motivated to study "chronic facial googliness", or C.F.G., as a result of years working trying to rehabilitate children with permanently stretched out earlobes, puffed out cheeks, eyelids flipped inside-out, and twisty tongues.

"We were really struggling against a medical profession that didn't buy the connection between acute frightening and C.F.G.", said Stevens.

Timmy Wilkinson, 11, of St. Louis, is a C.F.G. victim who also hailed the research. Speaking with difficulty, as a result of lips permanently pulled back from his teeth, Timmy told reporters that "Ish zey could helf anozer kid to not haz a prozlem like my, I would be vezzy haffy".

Timmy's mother, Janine Wilkinson, told reporters that if Timmy not have made a face at Susie Shields, 12, last summer, if he had had good data on the medical risks of doing so.

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