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Can the human body sympathetically develop scars?
December 3, 2012 7:12 AM   Subscribe

My fiancée has a distinctive scar on her nose. We are (obviously) very close and emotionally-bonded, and spend a great deal of time looking at each other. My nose has recently developed a matching skin depression in mirror image.

If someone told me this, I would be extremely skeptical, but I cannot account for it. No wound was sustained. It was not pink or bleeding at any point. I have never before developed an unexplained skin flaw on my face. I just suddenly have an elongated "scar", perfectly matching hers, on the opposite side of my nose.

Is this a bizarre coincidence, or could there be something more?
posted by quarantine to Science & Nature (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
bizarre coincidence
posted by Wilder at 7:16 AM on December 3, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's the jesus-in-toast phenomenon. I'm serious.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:20 AM on December 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is a bizarre coincidence.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:25 AM on December 3, 2012


My vote is for bizarre coincidence. That said, I'm now curious enough to ask if you have any recent photographs of your noses so we can compare the two.
posted by fight or flight at 7:26 AM on December 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would love to see pictures of both of your noses.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:26 AM on December 3, 2012 [22 favorites]


My ex had (has?) a dark mole right in the middle of his left hand. When I was with him I once pointed it out and noticed that I had the exact same mole on my right hand, thus the mirror image and when we held hands they would be connected. Aw.

As I write this I checked and actually the mole has faded... as has my memory of him. Coincidence?!

Yes.
posted by like_neon at 7:26 AM on December 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Bizarre coincidence. Consider the number of recent skin blemishes you've developed (as we all do) which are - not- mirror images of your special lady's.
posted by demons in the base at 7:31 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


How often do you spend nose to nose? Also, consider the number of skin blemishes that come and go without you noticing, this one only sticks out because you believe it looks similar to the one your fiancée has.
posted by gzimmer at 7:35 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this a bizarre coincidence, or could there be something more?

No one knows for sure. Repeat that emphasis.

Humans know a lot about the human body, but no where close to everything. This could be coincidence or something more.

My personal guess would be that it's something along the lines of a sympathy scar or possibly a physiological response to bonding very deeply. You see her scar and identify with it so much that your body produced its own.

Note, I am unaware of any science to back this up and would take it with a grain of salt and shot of tequila. But humans and our bodies are funny things and will sometimes do the unexplained and what we think is impossible.


All that said, I'd love to see a photo of both of your noses. Could you do that, crop it if you want to avoid posting y'all's faces and put a link to the photo in t his thread. Very curious.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 AM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe it's not even a particularly bizarre coincidence.

Consider the number of recent skin blemishes you've developed (as we all do) which are - not- mirror images of your special lady's.

Perhaps even more to the point, consider (except that you can't, really) the number of non-skin-related potential freaky coincidences that could have but didn't happen to you recently.
posted by oliverburkeman at 7:41 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here is my nose. This is the point where I (predictably and questionably) insist "It looks more prominent in-person."

I'd be saying exactly the same thing as the majority of responders, which seems to reduce to "You are attributing unwarranted significance to the emergence of a blemish that, anywhere else, you would hardly give a second thought to." I get it, and, as a skeptic, that would be my inclination as well if it were anyone else. But as it feels so bizarre, as the one who has developed something that matches so closely.
posted by quarantine at 7:52 AM on December 3, 2012


No one can answer, and most people here will say, "bizarre coincidence", but why not just enjoy it? It feels like a special, magical connection between you two, so let it be one!
posted by latkes at 7:56 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, sympathy pains are a thing, so why not sympathy scarring? The human mind can have an incredibly powerful effect on the human body.
posted by windykites at 7:58 AM on December 3, 2012


Also, consider the number of skin blemishes that come and go without you noticing, this one only sticks out because you believe it looks similar to the one your fiancée has.

Yes, something like this. For example, I bet you have never really noticed a green FIAT 500 before. But if you own one, suddenly it seems like every other car on the road is also a green FIAT 500.
posted by TinWhistle at 7:59 AM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


The human brain is really, really good at finding patterns; even when no patterns exist. From the picture of your nose, I might argue that the specific blemish that you're highlighting is not so different from surrounding blemishes on your nose. For example, you have a little blotch right below it and something else at the tip of your nose. I would wager that your brain, from looking at your fiancee all the time, is seeing a pattern there that isn't so different from the pattern you already see. It's already one level of similarity removed (it's the mirror image, not an exact copy), so I vote for your brain finding a pattern where one doesn't exist.
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:59 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Similar: my mom had a mole on her neck, and she had it removed and now has an indentation type scar where the mole used to be.

When I, her first daughter, was born, I had the same indentation scar. In the same spot. It looks like a mole was removed on my neck.

Crazy!

BTW I think you're attributing significance to something coincidental, and not only that, it happens a lot of times when people are in love. It's the "my favorite song was playing when he walked in the room" effect. There was a section on this in the book, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," that talks about the same phenomenon in a pretty literary way if you want to read a nice description.

I think it has to do with the fact that there are odd coincidences happening all the time, but when there is love around, you notice them and attribute them significance. It's more about what you are paying attention to, rather than about the actual # of coincidences out there.
posted by kellybird at 8:16 AM on December 3, 2012


After seeing your picture I think that your girlfriend is secretly scratching you in your sleep.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:39 AM on December 3, 2012


On the other hand... here's an (old) NYT article about a study that found that many people who are together a long time do become more similar to each other. A little googling will show that the study still has a lot of traction.

In addition to shared environmental factors, habits, nutrition, etc., the psychologist who led the research proposed that "people, often unconsciously, mimic the facial expressions of their spouses in a silent empathy and that, over the years, sharing the same expressions shapes the face similarly."

So. Who knows? It's not impossible that you are doing a facial mirroring thing that may be creating a slight "expression line" similar to her scar in that spot.
posted by taz at 9:39 AM on December 3, 2012


I think Betelguese is right with the pattern recognition + idiosyncratic meaning thing. If you had a different girlfriend, this is not something you'd ever have noticed.
posted by Miko at 9:51 AM on December 3, 2012


I don't mean to be a horrible killjoy, but you might should consider seeing a dermatologist to make sure that indentation isn't the sign of something that needs attention or tracking.

Otherwise, I agree with others that it's likely just pattern-matching. We humans excel at that.
posted by batmonkey at 10:12 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If she picks at her scar, and you mimic her face-picking without thinking about it, then I suppose it's possible.
posted by acidic at 11:29 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seconding seeing a dermatologist.
posted by fshgrl at 11:30 AM on December 3, 2012


I am thinking it's a sign
That the freckles in our eyes
Are mirror images and when we kiss
They're perfectly aligned

posted by mon-ma-tron at 12:40 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The question for you shouldnt be: "does this coincidence mean something?" it should be "what does this coincidence mean to me?" As a religious person I often interpret coincidences as signs not of what I should feel but, as they inspire reactions, how I actually feel. So what does this scar mean to you?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:51 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is her scar raised? Maybe when you kiss and squish noses she actually is indenting your skin. I'm skeptical it's true, but it would be funny and cute if it was.
posted by alygator at 10:40 PM on December 3, 2012


But now you need to post an older picture of your nose, so that we can see for sure whether the indent is recent.
posted by lollusc at 10:45 PM on December 3, 2012


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