A tattoo session goes something like this: On the day of the appointment, you wake up with a giant knot in your stomach. Could it be something you ate? No, it's more likely your tummy is doing flips because you're about to endure a bone-rattling permanent procedure. You try to eat something of sustenance, but you're too nervous so you skip off to the tattoo parlor. There, you practically shred the chair to pieces just so you don't pass out. Before you leave, you shell out $200 and a hefty tip. Is this what you call fun?
"Physical dependence has very little to do with getting multiple tattoos."
By and large, most people would say that the aforementioned scenario sounds pretty miserable. However, in hindsight, people generally love getting tattoos. Ask anyone who has one and they'll likely spill the deets of this horrific experience, but conclude with, "I can't wait to get another." Has the world gone mad?
It might appear so, but psychology helps explain this phenomenon of enjoying the whole experience of a tattoo rather one part of the procedure: spending a lot of money, being in pain, making a life-altering decision. The final product gives people a sense of individuality, which could by why people keep returning to the parlor for tattoo after tattoo.
Not an addiction
Despite people increasingly using the buzzword tattoo addiction, physical dependence has very little to do with getting multiple tattoos. Van Swami, a psychology professor at Westminster, told BBC that these conclusions are misleading. He's conducted several studies on tattoos revolving around the psychology of tattooing.
"It seems to be predominantly about the idea that you feel unique as an individual," said Swami. "People get tattoos for all sorts of reasons but that's the underlying one."
Why are tattoos enjoyable?
Swami explained that he predominately found that people derived pleasure from this otherwise painful experience because it gives them individuality. In a digital world where people are constantly bombarded to make bold decisions and post them to social media, it's no wonder tattoos have caught fire.
Here are some common reasons why people love tattoos.
- Ink gives people a sense of control over their bodies, which is especially helpful for someone with a condition.
- Tattoos are a confidence booster. Who doesn't want to feel a little more lovely?
- It's a way to hold dear to the past, even after the memory fades.
It's fair game to call tattooing a hobby. Just don't call it an addiction.
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