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Dr. Tracy Alderman Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and expert on self ha/m based in the US. She is also the author of The Scarred Soul: Understanding and Ending Self-inflicted Violence (New Harbinger Publications) and has written about the relationship between tattoos and self harm. 1 asked her about the links.

Is tattooing another form of jeIf-harm?

For most people, I would say that tattooing is self-decoration, not self-harm. Tattoos are designed to enhance the body's image and lo bring art to our most personal possession - our selves. While the process of getting a tattoo may be quite painful, the result is often beautiful (hopefully!). Self-harm, conversely, Is a behavior borne from emotional pain and utilized to decrease those overwhelming feelings. Most who self-harm are likely to keep their injuries from others.

Aie tattooed people more likely to engage in teIf-harm?

Or TA - As far I can tell tattooed people are not more likely to engage in self-harm. It may be that we are more likely to notice self-harm on people with tattoos as we are drawn to looking at their flesh a bit more carefully. That is, while checking out their ink we might just stumble upon a scar or recent injury that we may not have noticed if we hadn't been looking at their tattoos.

Are selt-harmers more likely to have tattoo*?

Let me just say, the research to answer this question accurately just doesn't exist. That being said, I would speculate that, yes, self-harmers are more likely to have tattoos. Self-harmers often view themselves as different from others, misunderstood, and sometimes Invisible. By getting tattoos, self-harmers become part of a group that is similar in some ways (often misunderstood, different from others) and literally become more visible. Additionally, those who formerly self-harmed may choose tattoos as a method to cover scars and to create something beautiful from a reminder of a painful time in their lives.


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