The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Danger behind wide-eyed stares

London, Jan. 10: Diana, Princess of Wales, had a rare condition called sanpaku, and so does Cherie Blair, according to the artist David Hockney.

Sanpaku is a Japanese word that means “three whites”.

Hockney noticed that in photographs and on television, Cherie Blair gazes out with the typical sanpaku wide-eyed stare, the whites of her eyes clearly visible above and below the iris.

Sanpaku is a term used in Bo-Shin, a system of medical diagnosis developed in Japan in the 1750s. Followers of the system, which is related to the Zen principle of Yin and Yang balance, believe it is possible to read physical and mental health in body features and facial expressions. The eyes relate to the nervous system.

“All babies are born sanpaku,” says Jon Sandifer, a Bo-Shin expert based in London. Unfortunately, being sanpaku in adulthood is not an advantage. “Ideally, we want to show whites on either side of our eyes when we look head on,” he says.

“Showing white above or below the iris denotes imbalance.” More chillingly, people who are sanpaku are believed to be more prone to violent death. John Lennon was sanpaku, as was John F. Kennedy.

There are two types of sanpaku. Yang sanpaku is when the whites show above the iris. This is rare and is usually associated with anger and aggression. Yin sanpaku, when the whites show below the iris, is associated with vulnerability. “These people, like Princess Diana, see the world at an angle and are likely to run into trouble in their lives,” says Sandifer.

Cherie Blair, who has white showing all the way round her eyes, could be said to be doubly afflicted. Luckily, sanpaku is curable, but it can take time. Sandifer suggests taking up sports that require good hand-eye co-ordination. “Games like tennis and squash help to exercise the nervous system. Martial arts are also excellent.”

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