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The Dorian Grey Effect

“My existence is a scandal.”

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.”

Such was the genius, flamboyance, and unique humor of Oscar Wilde. His writings have been the highlights of my reading experience, making him my favorite. His writings are encoded with philosophical thoughts, questions, and intriguing characters; they set the readers in for the adventure of a lifetime!


In Wilde's novel, The Picture of Dorian Grey, Dorian Grey is a youngster oblivious to his beauty and its fleeting nature. This is brought to his attention by Lord Henry Watton, who happens to be the friend of artist Basil Howard, who is painting a portrait of Dorian. Once Dorian talks to Watton and is enlightened by the harsh reality of his fleeting youth, he cries out in agony.

“I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me. Why should it keep what I must lose? Every moment that passes takes something from me and gives something to it. Oh, if it were only the other way! If the picture could change, I could always be what I am now! Why did you paint it? It will mock me someday -- mock me horribly!”

Expresses Dorian to Basil.


And oh boy, once Dorian's wish is miraculously granted, chaos ensues. He remains perpetually young and handsome while his portrait ages and reflects his soul's moral corruption and degradation. This allows Dorian to indulge in a life of hedonism and vice without facing any outward consequences or aging.

It is a novel that will take you on mind-bending philosophical adventures, and the statements by Lord Henry are sure to keep you up at night. The following should give you a taste:

“As for being poisoned by a book, there is no such thing. Art has no influence on action. It annihilates the desire to act. It is superbly sterile. The books that the world calls immoral show the world its shame. That is all.”


So, what is the Dorian Grey effect?

It is a fascinating concept that explores the link between our inner world and outward appearance. Here's a breakdown of the phenomenon: The Core Idea suggests that our internal states, such as personality, emotions, and self-perception, can influence our physical appearance over time.

Two Main Interpretations:

  1. Mind-Body Connection: Our mental and emotional states can affect physical health and well-being. Chronic stress can lead to wrinkles, bad posture, or dull skin. Conversely, feeling happy and fulfilled might make you appear more vibrant and energetic.

  2. Perception Becomes Reality: How we see ourselves can influence how we present ourselves and others perceive us. Someone who feels confident might hold their head high, smile more, and care better for their appearance, projecting an air of attractiveness.

The Dorian Grey effect isn't about a magical transformation. Here are some scientific, potential contributing factors:

  • Stress hormones: Chronically high-stress levels can lead to the breakdown of collagen, a protein that keeps skin looking plump and youthful.

  • Facial expressions: Repetitive frowning or squinting can contribute to wrinkles and lines.

  • Health behaviors: People who feel good about themselves might be more likely to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep, all contributing to physical attractiveness.

  • Nonverbal communication: Positive emotions like confidence can be conveyed through posture, eye contact, and facial expressions, making someone seem more attractive. 


  • It's unlikely that someone with a terrible personality will suddenly develop a hideous appearance.

  • Genetics and life experiences also majorly affect how we age and look.

  • Our lifestyle can be a contributing factor to our appearance.

  • Though a riveting idea, metaphorically speaking, “The Dorian Grey Effect” describes situations where someone's outward appearance doesn't reflect their inner turmoil, immorality, or unethical behavior. It highlights the discrepancy between external appearances and internal realities.

The Dorian Gray effect highlights the complex interplay between our minds and bodies. It barely scratches the surface of research that is still underway; however, it reminds us that taking care of our mental well-being can have positive effects on our overall health and appearance.

Wishing you all the sweetness of lilac blooms until next time!

-Rinaaz Nadaf

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