Depression is a powerful thing. Those who deny, or go with the old chestnut, ‘why can’t you just decide to be happy?’ don’t really understand. I didn’t, for a long time. But it’s crippling for many and for the city of Budapest, Hungary, which was devastated by World War I, it was an epidemic that led to huge waves of suicide. But they came up with a really weird (and kinda freaky) solution: Smile Clubs.
According to a newspaper article at the time: “A “Smile Club” has been inaugurated to counteract the suicide craze it was originally begun more as a joke by Professor Jeno and a hypnotist named Binczo, but somehow it caught on. The organisers have now a regular school and guarantee to teach the Roosevelt smile, the Mona Liza smile, the Clark Gable smile, the Dick Powell smile, the Loretta Young Smile, and various other types, the rates varying according to the difficulties encountered. Jeno says the methods employed at his school, aided by better business conditions in Budapest are making smiling popular and before long it is hoped that the name of Budapest will be changed to the City of Smiles.
There actually has been numerous studies over the decades, even recently, that forced smiling can actually enhance someone’s mood, find comedy funnier, and the like. I can only guess that this was the impetus behind this plan that not only taught students how to give different kinds of smiles, but actually had them wear apparatus to either simulate a smile, as above, or force their faces into a smile using medical tape.
Yeah, that is creepy. And for the record, I think we all learned from The Joker, that it can have some nasty psychotic side effects as well. Although, you gotta admit, it’s not often you saw The Joker in a bad mood.