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Tattoos: what is their significance?

  • Vivek Khosla, Verghese Joseph and Harvey Gordon

Summary

The prevalence of tattoos is higher among people with mental disorders and those likely to come in contact with mental health services. The motivations for acquiring a tattoo are varied and tattoos can give clues to the presence of particular psychiatric conditions and to the inner world of patients. Psychiatrists need to be aware of the health and safety issues surrounding the tattooing procedure and be able to give appropriate advice to their patients if they wish to acquire a tattoo. The issue of capacity must be considered. This may be particularly relevant for clinicians working with adolescents, the most common age group for acquiring tattoos. Owing to the high proportion of adults who subsequently regret their tattoos and the associated psychological and social distress, clinicians should be aware of methods of tattoo removal.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr Vivek Khosla, Oxford Clinic, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Foundation NHS Trust, Littlemore Hospital, Oxford OX4 4XN, UK. Email: vivek.khosla@obmh.nhs.uk

Footnotes

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Declaration of Interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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Tattoos: what is their significance?

  • Vivek Khosla, Verghese Joseph and Harvey Gordon
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eLetters

Looking through the celebrity mirror

Gagan Preeti, CT3
30 November 2010

The article summarizes the various reasons why people with mental illness have a higher prevalance of tattoos. A lot of celebrities in the media (TV, film, modelling, music artists etc.) have tattoos. A high percentage of our patients are very vulnerable and possibly get easily influenced by the fashion statements of the celebrities without realising the long term consequences, younger people even more so. Some of our patients have low self esteem and they might see having a tattoo as a step closer towards the celebrity life style. ... More

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