Tattoos as a Form of Therapy


We all have coping mechanisms, vices, ways we deal with our own negative thoughts and feelings however they might manifest themselves. Could tattoos be one of these coping mechanisms? Many people today believe so. For some, a tattoo holds a far deeper meaning that just self-expression. They can be a way of attempting to undo past wrongs or a means of focusing the mind on something other than the negatives in life.

Tattoos as a Coping Mechanism

Tattoos have a rich history, dating back to over 5000 years ago. In recent years, the attitude of many towards tattoos has changes as well. Previous generations believed tattoos to be a form or rebellious actions, but younger generations have embraced them as a way to symbolize individuality and memorialize important events.

Often times though, these important events include difficult or traumatic events. Tattoos representing a loved one’s death or difficult experience in life can be a way that people channel the emotions associated with these situations and start coping with traumatic events and the negatives in life.

Research Findings

Associate professor of French at Lawrence, Judith Samecki, believes that a correlation exists between the increase in tattoos and today’s psychological need to deal with traumatic events.

Samecki became interested in the psychological correlation between tattoos and their cathartic characteristics a few years ago, when she started visiting tattoo parlors and interviewing patrons, as well as artists. She found that many people tattoo over scars or areas of physical injury as a way of re-“branding” that part of their body with a new image.

Why Tattoos Work as Therapy

Tattoos are a form of art, and similar to other artistic outlets, they can express one’s emotions better than words. They present the opportunity for people to share the stories behind their ink. And each time the story is shared, the process of healing and emotional catharsis can be accomplished.

The pain from the needle when getting a tattoo can cause one to focus their mind on the result instead of the negatives going on in their life. This can be very therapeutic in one’s healing process from a traumatic event or experience. One can focus on the positive result this tattoo will bring with many positive memories attached as well. Everybody copes with pain and trauma in different ways, tattoos are just one of the ways one can cope.


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