Tattoo Addiction – Will I need MORE Tattoos?
Of course you will, didn’t you already know that? If you think you could become addicted to tattoos, maybe you should read through this and learn a little about tattoo addiction. There is not really any reliable statistics anywhere that explains why people seem to get multiple tattoos. Many tattoo artists, including the artists at BodyIllusions Tattoo Shop (Brantford, Ontario) will tell you they have seen a dramatic increase of clients coming through their doors lately over the past years, with that need to satisfy their needs for their tattoo addictions.
Years ago, there was a time when one would go through a fast food drive-through and you wouldn’t ever see any tattoos or body piercings.. boy, has time changed! Today,if we drive through them same places, we will notice a gradual difference in tattoo acceptance, and the many workers who now have tattoos! Years back, about 5% of the staff you would see at a drive-through had visible tattoos or body piercings. Today, we see the percentage of people with tattoos has changed dramatically! Our new generation, shows that if we drive through these drive-thrus now, you will notice about 80%-90% of staff and employees have visible tattoos! Changes…? you bet! Also, another thing we notice from years ago, we wouldn’t see women with alot of tattoos, only about 5% of our clients at BodyIllusions Tattoo Shop were female, it was a male dominated thing, but some women still got tattoos, but usually in hidden spots or small ones. Today…? well 70% of BodyIllusions Tattoo Shop cilents are female, and they are sometimes getting huge tattoos, for their first ones! This is a big change also in our culture and society. This is our new generation, and whether you like it or not, its only getting bigger and more popular! Its about time tattoos have become more acceptable to our everyday society – even tons of police officers, school teachers , office workers plus medical staff, etc, many of them have ALOT of tattoos today!
The psychology of tattooing has greatly been the subject of increased academic analysis in the recent times. Researchers are trying to answer that big question of “Why do people keep going back for another tattoo?” and what drives them to return back to get another tattoo rather than settling for a single tattoo.
There was a study in 2012 that discovered that personality differences between all of the tattooed people and non-tattooed individuals were “generally small” although those with tattoos tended to be more extroverted and display a greater “need for uniqueness“. This was the conclusion of the study. Like much of what was once considered part of the counter-culture, to some extent tattooing has been appropriated by the mainstream population. There has been a great visibility of highly popular tattooed celebrities, some of these celebrities have displayed multiple body markings like Beckham and Cole, Blink 182, Britney Spears, etc has no doubt contributed to the decision by many to adopt tattoos that would once have been considered outlandish or unsightly years ago.
While still, some of those with brandings or tattoos continue to face disapproval. A recent report by the British Sociological Association found that tattoos can sometimes make it harder for individuals to find employment because of employers’ prejudices and feelings about tattoos sometimes. There was also a study done in 2007 that suggested that women with tattoos tended to be viewed as “less physically attractive, more sexually promiscuous and heavier drinkers”. Today however, we all know this is not true, it is 2015 and times have changed where years back we wouldn’t see a police officer, a fireman, a doctor or school teacher come in for a tattoo… today, we see the majority of our clients are from reputable employments, from all walks of life. TV Shows such as Miami Ink, Ink’d and Bad Ink, plus of course good ‘ol Kat Von D has also made a dramatic change in history and times. Today tattoos are way more acceptable in Canada and the USA. Just look next time your at the beach, or when you walking downtown. Ultimately at the end of the day, there’s no single, definitive reason why some people choose to get lots of tattoos and others don’t. It may boil down to little more than personal taste than anything.
Tattoo Addiction, is it possible? The word “addiction” is tossed around a lot when it comes to tattoos. Some people say that the drive to acquire body art is addictive while others say it fails to meet the true definition of an addiction, some describing it as a simply passion. The continued tattoo addiction debate calls into question the very nature of addiction, can addiction be psychological or must it contain a physiological element of chemical dependence? As we all know, when it comes to tattoos and getting new tattoos, there are several psychological, physiological and even social elements which could contribute to a tattoo addiction. If we all sat down and were willing broaden our definition of “addiction” than what facets of the tattooing process could become addictive?
Through research, we have gathered up 15 mental, physical and situational attributes of the world of tattooing that under some circumstances could prove addicting to an individual. You Decide at the end of the day. There are many reasons and attributes that could prove addicting, these are just some that stand out more than others.
For most individuals, tattoos are a form of personal expression. A rose on the ankle, an merkaba (which is actually a symbol of protection for many) on the shoulder and tons of other representations of meaningful imagery. There are so many reasons for getting a tattoo, and that varies as much from person to person as the designs, ideas and elements they ultimately select. However the scientific process the body undergoes during the process is largely the same. One third of the human nervous system is known as the “Sympathetic Nervous System” and of course this is the portion that is responsible for triggering the fight-or-flight response, which includes releasing adrenaline in response to pain.
Some tattoo shops discuss what to expect while getting a tattoo citing the adrenaline rush that can be anticipated. During the 20th century we noticed the introduction of the concept of being an “Adrenaline Junkie”. An Adrenaline Junkie is a person whose relentless pursuit of an adrenaline rush leads them into high risk situations with the hopes of stimulating the release of adrenaline. If you look around, you will notice that today people have widely acknowledged the existence of adrenaline addiction making it one of the most likely culprits in being a definite source of an addiction to tattoos.
Endorphins is very unlike adrenaline. Endorphins which is produced in the renal glands, flood the body directly from the brain. These chemicals produced in the pituitary gland are our natural pain relievers as many already are aware of. This is part of the reason why, while receiving a tattoo procedure, the endorphins will flood the body of the tattoo client in response to the pain caused by the needles. The effects of endorphins are very powerful. These effects are also associated with other activities that create a natural “high” like exercise and orgasms. Some describe it similar to a heroin or cocaine release. Studies on Youtube also show cat-scans of individuals while getting a tattoo, and they notice in the back of the brain, there is a similar release of endorphins to that of a person who immediately takes cocaine or heroin. The force of this chemical reaction can lead to an increased drive and even an tattoo addiction to getting tattoos in order to repeat the experience again, and receive another dose of these endorphins.
Pain Substitution and/or Self Mutilation
Since there is some pain during the tattoo process, the pain of getting a tattoo might also be the intoxicating element that draws the tattoo client or individual in over and over again. Our medical community and rehab community is more widely acknowledging self-mutilation and self-injury as a form of addiction. For those that engage in this practice, they will often find a sense of control when causing themselves pain. Many will find it somewhat therapeutic to use physical pain in an attempt to relieve emotional or mental stress. Therefore, we believe it is indeed possible that some have become addicted to self-injury in the form of getting new tattoos. Finding their only solace through the pain of the tattoo needle, and most likely as a result getting addicted to getting tattoos.
Attention and/or Social interaction
If we look around, many individuals who have a tattoo or many tattoos immediately take offense to the notion of tattoos being a form of attention seeking. There are even some hardcore tattoo defenders and body art defenders that will concede that in some cases, some people’s tattoos certainly may be a cry out for seeking attention. Creative expression is comparable to tattoos and with other forms of creative expression – for example purple hair or multiple face piercings. We believe it is the permanent nature and painful nature of having the tattoos that simply puts them in a slightly different category than most others. If you are someone who craves attention, positive or negative, it is at least possible they may feel addicted to tattoos for the attention these tattoos can bring up.
I am sure if you ask anyone with a outright visible tattoo, they can attest that their tattoo or tattoos has, at some point in their life, served as a conversation starter with a stranger, or someone has approached them to talk about their body art. So basically, in other words if you are someone struggling with breaking down interpersonal barriers, then perhaps getting a tattoo could become an effective method of facilitating social interactions that might otherwise feel impossible to that individual. In these cases, the need for acknowledgement and connection could drive the need to get a tattoo.
If you ask most individuals with tattoos, especially visible tattoos or any visible form of body art, they will most likely tell you that for them it is a form of self expression. Almost every tattoo a person has, supports a meaning which is significant to the person who wears it; even if in some cases that meaning is as simple as “I thought it was cute/funny/hardcore”. It doesnt matter what the intent is behind the tattoo itself, the wearer of the tattoo finds it possible to use awesome artwork on their bodies as a satisfying way of expressing who they believe themselves to be on this inside, under the ink. It’s certainly not that uncommon for some individuals to feel hindered and inhibited by other forms of communication, speaking, writing or other creative pursuits. If this is the case, it is not impossible that the need to get a tattoo could be fueled by that feeling that this is the only method through which their inner self can be displayed to the world outside.
Thanks to the ever-growing cultural acceptance of tattoos, body piercings and body art combined with increasing media exposure has created an insurgence of tattoo related art and tattoo artists all around the world. When we look through the ever expanding rush of tattoo culture which is comprised of the tattoo artist who consider the human body to be their medium. It is not uncommon for artists or tattoo artists of any kind to exhibit signs of tattoo addiction when it comes time to practice their tattoo art Tattoo clients sometimes also feel that, even if the work is executed by a professional tattoo artist, their tattoos are an expression of their own artistic visions.
Some specific tattooing rituals may symbolize rights of passage or the inclusion in a group or society. Others tattoos represent an attempt to do the opposite. In some of these cases tattoos may be a form of rebellion, and not rebellion just for teenagers either. In the tattoo designs area, there are several symbols which are particularly representative of being a rebellion including pirates and confederate flag designs. These are the elements, symbols or markings that are representatives of two groups comprised of individuals considered rebels and outlaws of their time. There are also many modern versions of these icons are still often associated with an endorsement of rebellion against society. When we look at some other cases, regardless of the element that is depicted within the tattoo, the location that the tattoo is located or just the very presence of the tattoo exemplifies a non-conformist attitude to many. Some of these activists for many causes often appear so immensely dedicated to a cause, that their single-mindedness resembles obsession or addiction. There are many that have chosen the method of activism, and for those method of activism is body modification; their relentless pursuit of additional tattoos is their outcry against the norm. However rare and not too common, it is possible that these attempts to defy the proletariat could potentially reach a level that be construed as tattoo addiction.
The history and artistic value of a tattoo is about as old as religion itself. If we look at our research, you will find Mummies, dating back from as early as 300 BC were found to have various animal related tattoos on their bodies. As such, for 1000’s of years tattoos and the art of tattoos itself have been used as a form of religious dedication. If we look about, we will see the many uses of tattoos in spirituality are actually surprisingly globally. Many of the tattoo artists in Japan, actually almost all Japanese tattoo artists will consider their work to bring about spiritual awakenings.
While coming back to North America, many tribes were using tattoos of many styles as a way of connecting with the spirit world. In our modern everyday society, individuals will continue to use tattoos and various forms of body art to express devotion to their beliefs, through the tattooing and permanent mark of religious icons. If you ask alot of spiritual people, they will sometimes respond with the fact that it isn’t about the art itself as much as the experience in which they go through; many will discover the tattoo procedure of getting tattooed itself can be very highly spiritual. Its quite obvious that religion and spirituality has taken on numerous forms in the modern world we live in. There are various reasons and ways each of use chooses to worship are sacred and different for us all. For those of you that have found a way to their spirituality through the art of tattoos or getting a tattoo, the act of the body modification itself could be akin to prayer. Many individuals may find themselves compelled in an almost addictive manner to return to what they consider their church and their path to their spiritual fulfillment.
Getting away from the sweeping stereotypical generalizations, is there really a link between tattoos and substance abuse? there are some studies may suggest a slim possibility that individuals, in this case psychiatric inpatients, with tattoos, are more likely to suffer from antisocial personality disorder, suicide attempts and substance abuse. There is one drug rehab suggesting that a rising use of heroin in many younger people stems from a cultural propensity toward other needle based activities, in this case such as piercing and tattooing. On the other hand, these claims only represent small, highly specialized, population samples and they don’t really shed much light on an association between tattoos and other kinds of addiction. Research also shows a growing trend of many individuals on the road to recovery branding themselves with sobriety tattoos as a part of their rehabilitation process, and happy with the choices.
So these vague connections between tattoos and substance abuse are tenuous at best, but it is at least possible that getting a tattoo could be a pre-curser to some additions or an epilogue to others. In certain cases the feelings incurred by the acquisition of a tattoo could possibly serve as a replacement for sensations previously garnered through another form of addiction other than tattoos.
As with each of us, we are individual. All of us have individual vices, coping mechanisms, individual ways to deal with our own negative feelings however they might manifest themselves. Could tattoos be considered a good form of therapy?
When some people were asked, tattoos hold a far deeper meaning than just self-expression itself. For some, tattoos are a way of attempting to undo past wrongs or a means purging negative emotions. For some individuals, tattoos aren’t a means of social acceptance, but a form of identity. It’s possible that, finding solace through the process of getting a tattoo, it could become somewhat addictive. For a individual or person reluctant to pursue more traditional forms of therapy, or lacking in a personal support system the therapeutic qualities of body modification could become a compelling substitute.
As with most of us, collecting is a simple hobby that produces enjoyment for whatever we are collecting. People may collect anything from rocks, to feathers to old bottles, almost anything that fascinates the hobbyist or collector. We all know a junk collector, and in some cases, we can find that the need to collect can become a compulsion. Compulsion is the case many individuals, who view themselves as collectors of tattoos, could in some ways become addicted to increasing their collection. There is one theory that suggests that it is not uncommon for collectors to find themselves, trying and failing to give up collecting, sacrificing work or personal relationships in favour of collecting. These kinds of behaviors are similar to signs of many other kinds of addictions. If a person considers themselves a collector of tattoos they could easily fall victim to the same kind of obsession that some other collectors may succumb to as well, therefore gathering up a collection of tattoo art on their bodies.
If we turn to the cosmetic side of tattoo addictions, we will find that recently cosmetic surgery addiction has garnered headlines, so why not cosmetic tattoos? It’s widely known that celebrities such as Michael Jackson have had these types of procedures done regarding cosmetic surgury. To those who crave outward beauty, tattooing your eyebrows can be as common as getting your shots of Botox 4 times yearly. Cosmetic tattoos and cosmetic tattooing has the same side effects and infection risks as getting a tattoo anywhere else on your body, leading one to believe it is even safer than most cosmetic procedures that might include injections, lasers, and surgery. The quest for beauty, in the USA especially, has in itself become a cultural addiction. This is simply another representation of that mentality. Experimenting with one form of cosmetic tattoo could easily lead to a compulsion to explore additional forms of cosmetic ink and cosmetic tattooing.
Though perhaps not inclusive of everyone who has a tattoo or body ink, a thriving tattoo culture exists and is real. Many people who have multiple tattoos may perceive their tattoos to be one of the defining elements of their identity and these individuals comprise a sub-culture within society. The allure of this culture has been explored and researched by many. Some experts define tattoo culture as a distinctive community that is characterized by tattoo enthusiasts that, through tacit understandings and shared experiences have formed a strong bond with one another. There is an obvious desire to belong to this kind of tattoo group, tattoo community or tattoo culture, particularly if an individual or client were to feel ostracised by others, could in its own way contribute to feelings of being addicted to tattoos or having a tattoo addiction. At some times, an individual may find themselves driven to continue expanding their collection of tattoos and various body arts as a method of repeated dedication, or induction to the tattoo culture.
While many of the tattooed persons have formed a sub-culture of their own, tattoos have been integral parts of many cultures since ancient times. There are various cultures that practice the art of tattooing for both spiritual and ritualistic reasons. To the people whom wear these tattoos, they can also classify these people into specific religious, social, or political groups. There are several African Tribes tattoo women’s faces after they’ve given birth to their children that are male. All males may receive painful tattoos and other type of body mutilation to prove their masculinity. In these such cases, the art of tattoo is regarded as essential or requisite. Often as ever, an addiction often comes with the conviction that a substance or act is a matter of necessity. In the western culture there were many individuals decided to have tattoos which would identify their heritage with flags, family crests or other iconic imagery. This inclination to pay homage to one’s culturally history, heritage or ancestry could feed an already addictive inclination toward tattoo addictions.
In this world, we have some groups that appear to have a preponderance of tattoos, in some cases because they are a requirement of membership and in others because they simply represent like-mindedness within the group. This tends to be the case particularly, in jails and prisons around the world, various motorcycle groups or street gangs where a tattoo worn of some kind might be mandatory and required to be a part of the organization or group they are involved with. In these cases the accrual of additional tattoos could be an indication of a driving need to re-dedicate to the group or even an attempt to rise within the ranks of the organization or the group they occupy. However rare, the obsession or pressure associated with being part of a specific group or organization could fuel a kind of tattoo addiction.
So, there you have it… tattoo addiction and some reasons and explanations for getting so many tattoos. You may not fall into any of these categories, they are just noted here to give people and visitors a feeling of why people around the world get some many tattoos and how some become addicted to getting even more. Thanks for reading, and I bet you already have your next tattoo in mind :).
Brantford, Ontario Canada (http://bodyillusionsonline.com)