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I have a character who cannot smile, frown, express anger on their face, or make other expressions but can still move facial muscles to blink, eat, blush, puff cheeks and still feels emotions like happiness. Aside from the expressionless face they are completely normal and able with no other issues. I've found "moebius syndrome" but that seems to commonly come with other effects such as troubles with eye movement. Any other conditions or disorders?

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    $\begingroup$ The more conventional everyday "conditions" would be the "RBF" and botox, but I'm guessing those won't meet your needs. $\endgroup$
    – user93359
    Jan 9, 2022 at 4:55
  • $\begingroup$ It will be difficult to find anything that doesn't come with difficulty speaking. If you can make enough movement to articulate properly, you can also make the same movement while not speaking. That alone pretty much guarantees the full range of facial expressions. $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2022 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ It is more believable that the person can make an angry face but must make a conscious effort. i.e being angry doesn't unconsciously cause the expression. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jan 9, 2022 at 15:14

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Not as written

Facial expressions are controlled by several different cranial nerves. There is literally nothing that could damage them all without destroying the nervous system or entire front of the skull. The only way for a person not to be able to make any facial expressions would be to be complexly non-responsive (a.k.a. a vegetable) or to not have a face.

If they have no face, if they literally have no musculature anywhere on their face, say from a severe burn, such an injury would also render them blind and and unable to eat. Not being able to make facial expressions would be the least noticeable thing about them.

There are conditions that can drastically reduce emotional expression in the face, if that will work I suggest re-asking a modified question.

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too much clothing

They can make facial expressions all day, voluntarily or involuntarily, without any repercussions. It's just nobody will be able to tell, because nobody can actually see their face.

As to why would only very few individual in the entire population wear a face mask? There are some options. One option would be that there's an ongoing pandemic of an airborne disease, and most people simply don't care, but that's too unrealistic.
Another choice would be they are a prominent member of a religious group that isn't too common in that country or only adorns its prominent members with face masks. They could doff it at any time, if they don't mind the shame it brings to their family, eternal damnation, your pick... or maybe it's one of those groups that perform more ... fundamental ... modifications to the face, while being careful enough to not disrupt functionality.
A medical condition is an option for sure. Not one that prevents muscle movement - but one that makes exposed skin a real problem, or just unsightly enough that full-body cover is the lesser evil. Pick one of those diseases that wreck your skin if too much UV light touches it, and crank it up a little.
Or perhaps they do it to hide their identity for a legitimate (or illegitimate) reason, or they really like someone who does.

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Parkinsons disease.

muhammad ali

https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/ali-face-struggle-parkinson-disease-article-1.2660640

One of the symptoms of Parkinsons disease is facial masking. Affected persons struggle to move their faces and show expression. Muhammad Ali had Parkinsons for many years.

https://www.apdaparkinson.org/what-is-parkinsons/symptoms/facial-masking/

She ends with his face, but no explanation is necessary: he’s remained almost expressionless. To the untrained eye, the man appears disinterested, even bored.

But to Tickle-Degnen, it’s clear that the subject, a Parkinson’s patient, is exhibiting “facial masking,” a symptom in which facial muscles become immobilized and the patient has what can best be described as a blank expression. “The face is the primary way we communicate with other people,” says Tickle-Degnen, who has been researching nonverbal and verbal communication among people with Parkinson’s and other diseases for the past twenty years. “We tend to believe the actions of a person more than their words if we feel there is a discrepancy between the two. So, a person with Parkinson’s disease may be talking about their feelings and saying that they are really enjoying life but may not be believed.”

The person with Parkinsons is the same person he always was. He can love and hate and feel grief and feel joy. He can laugh. He can cry and it might surprise you when he does, because he does not look upset.

The other symptoms of Parkinsons might get in the way of other things like walking, or eating. Or maybe not. Parkinsons is not the same for different people. Some people get all the symptoms, some people have symptoms straggle in over the years, and some people have a couple of troubling symptoms but the others not so much. If you want your character to have pronounced facial masking but only a little tremor, that can happen.

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Facial palsy

Usually this affects only one side or other of the face but it is possible for an unfortunate individual to be affected on both sides.

Facial palsy caused by brain damage versus Facial palsy caused by facial nerve damage Facial palsy in non-stroke cases is a result of damage to the lower part of the facial nerve. In non-stroke cases the damage occurs after the nerve has left the brain and travels down to the facial muscles. There are many causes of damage to the lower part of the facial nerve. Facial palsy in stroke cases is a result of damage to the facial nerve inside the brain. In case of an ischaemic stroke, damage to the brain tissue and nerves is caused by lack of oxygen. In case of a haemorrhagic stroke, the bleeding puts pressure on the nearby tissue and nerves. In both cases, cells are killed within minutes. https://www.facialpalsy.org.uk/causesanddiagnoses/stroke/

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Facial frostbite can harm nerves controlling facial muscles and make person have difficulties speaking and smiling.

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Eisenhorn, nerve damage.

The character Eisenhorn experiences this, after being tortured, which leaves nerve damage.

I can't rightly say how well/respectfully Dan Abnet portrays that character, as I've not experienced it myself. But Eisenhorn uses it to his advantage, and it also works against him at least once.

This sort of shows there doesn't need to be a named condition that leads to this, as the majority of the entries in the TV Tropes page Frozen Face (warning for the page image, as it is a little startling if you're not expecting it) are from 'nerve damage', 'muscle paralysis' and 'scarring'.

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Autism is often accompanied by reduced affect display - which is a technical term for facial expressions being reduced or absent.

People with autism are not neurotypical, and may range from quite impaired to above average. It is possible for a person to have high-functioning autism, and for some neurotypical persons to not notice that anything is wrong with them. They may even be considered to be geniuses.

As a person with autism and reduced affect, I don't show my emotions on my face much, if at all. My daughter is also autistic, and also has reduced affect. However, we both still have emotions, and we are also both capable of making emotional facial expressions... we are as capable as any neurotypical person of smiling, frowning, scowling, appearing afraid and so-on... except that unless we make a conscious effort to do so, we just don't. We don't smile when we're happy, or scowl when we're angry, we make those expressions when we're acting.

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  • $\begingroup$ such a person does not experience the emotion in question, it is not that they can't express the emotion it is as far as we can tell they literally are not experiencing the emotion. which goes against what the OP wants. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jan 9, 2022 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ @John are you suggesting that autistic people do not feel emotion? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jan 9, 2022 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron absolutely not, just what reduced affect is, in most cases they are literally not experiencing the emotion, the affect scale is a test of responses to normal emotional situations, they are not expressing an emotional response to situations that normally trigger an emotional response. they are not incapable of emotion nor incapable of facial expression. they are just not showing it when we expect them to. Even people with flat affect (the most extreme version) do show signs of emotional response just vastly reduced but they also show reduced emotional response overall. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jan 9, 2022 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron reduced affect is not synonymous with autism, and the most extreme versions are often not connected to autism. there is no level of affect blunting that removes all emotional expression. worse it is a catch all term that covers several things. I did not downvote because reduced affect may do what the OP wants but not if connected to autism. Traumatic brain injury would be a better fit. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jan 9, 2022 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ @John That's absolute rubbish. Autistic people do experience the emotions, but they don't show on their faces as much or at all. I should know, since I'm autistic, with reduced affect. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Jan 9, 2022 at 23:36

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