Body Language Analysis №4195: Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, and Red Flags — Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Three years ago, Elizabeth Holmes was the newest Golden Child of Silicon Valley. Her company, which she started when she was just 19 after dropping out of Stanford University, had claimed to have revolutionized the practice of medicine by being able to perform testing on just a few drops of blood — from only a finger prick (only 1/100 to 1/1000 of that typically needed with conventional methods). Such a discovery would also dramatically decrease the costs of blood tests. Ms. Holmes also had quite a knack for convincing investors to bankroll her company — which they did to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
But in October of 2015, based on the work of John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal, deep concerns as to the credibility of Theranos’ technology were raised — and the facade failed.
What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of Ms. Holmes from this April 2015 CBS interview.
The aberrant behavior of Elizabeth Holmes’ eyelids is striking. Note how widely they’re opened. The “whites of her eyes” (sclera) are visible 360º around the colored portions (irides or irises) of both eyes.
Moreover, her eyelids are open to this extreme — not just for a second or two — but nearly continuously throughout this interview. This is extremely unusual.
Additionally, in the image immediately above (2:25), Ms. Holmes is also displaying a component of Disgust (note her tightened and forward-vectored mid and lower face — along with her nostril flaring and tightened lips).
You may have also noticed that Elizabeth Holmes blinks much less frequently than normal. This should immediately jump out to you as unnatural. This red flag is a behavior correlated with nefarious motives — so much so, that it’s even been used in animations for decades.
Now, you may say that maybe Elizabeth Holmes’ forehead had been treated with Botox — and you’d be correct. But although her forehead activity is somewhat diminished due to Botox — the dynamic movement captured here (3:48) proves that it is still quite functional. Concave-up furrows are clearly visible on her forehead and her eyebrows are also momentarily elevated.
It’s profoundly important to stress — that when a person’s eyelids are opened wide during moments of verbal emphasis — there is almost always a simultaneous contraction and elevation of their forehead muscles too — as was imaged in this last example.
But the fact that such forehead contribution was rarely seen throughout this interview — that her eyelids were opened wide with a relaxed forehead — and this display was virtually continuous — is a tremendous red flag. It screams of deception. It also signals psychological pathology.
Intriguingly, although the frequency of Ms. Holmes’ voice is quite deep — witnesses have documented that she’s feigning. It’s another affectation.
Jennifer Lawrence will be playing Elizabeth Holmes in a 2019 film version of this fall from grace. It’s to be titled Bad Blood and will be directed by Adam McKay (The Big Short).
SUMMARY: In the abstinence of a few medical conditions (such as Thyroid eye disease), when the eyelids are opened so widely, with such high frequency and long duration — coupled with a relaxed forehead (e.g., as is demonstrated in the first three images and during almost this entire interview), there’s a very high correlation with:
• Antisocial Personality Disorder (commonly referred to as Sociopath Behavior)
Group Appearances and One-on-One
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This post and the associated website serve as reference sources for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc., are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts — not to advance any political, religious, or other agenda.