Now are more people, even very young, with at least one tattoo on the body than those who do not. You do not need to go to sea to admire the ones that sometimes are true works of art drawn on the skin of those who chose to express themselves ‘well’ in this way. The significance of tattooing, a practice that is lost in time, is certainly a very interesting topic, especially if as in this case dealt with the help of Dr. Mariacandida Mazzilli, psychologist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist. With her we have also discussed the problem of teens and tattoos, and other topics related to you on this issue. Here’s what he said.


The tattoo has a meaning only ‘aesthetic’, is part of human culture for millennia. What does it mean, from a psychological standpoint, the fact that they have a tattoo pictures or symbols, or words, on the body?

In our society, the image has a crucial role and the body becomes the center of many attentions. There is much talk of nutrition education, to maintain physical fitness through sports, the use of drugs and beauty products, cosmetic surgery. Through the “body exhibited” an attempt to seduce, the reports often are built right on the see and be seen. The tattoo becomes a means by which to identify themselves or to mark their belonging to a group, talking about himself, revealing something intimate that otherwise would be expressed with greater difficulty. Being able to “imprint” on the body’s inner self helps to distinguish themselves from others, to visually emphasize their diversity and the desire to be unique.

You can then tell others what you are without words: communication by picture seems more immediate than that using the channel of thought and introspection. Have a tattoo can be a pain experience, especially in those areas of the body more sensitive, a kind of courage that increases the value of the symbol, enriching it with other meanings. Tattooing is now very common experience, give figures on the skin and permanent colors brings the glamor and excitement of a small transgression. Also to be considered also the sense of social integration, when a tattoo can mean “look alike”, adapt to trends or codes of conduct, to feel less alone.

More and more teenagers want a tattoo. In this case, the phenomenon of imitation plays an important role, or are there other reasons, related to the social context in which we live, and at the age of the subject, which determine this desire?

Teenagers need to create a mode of communication that, while inevitably brings with it the mark of the family of origin, the other tries to be an alternative to it. The personality of young people, in fact, tends to be “approved”, only with time and maturity will be “individual”. Children need to feel part of something and the tattoo can highlight this collective identity. A drawing on the skin also serves as evidence that your body is sexed adult is ready for communicating ideals and hopes, to express conflict. Sometimes it becomes the preferred way to express a message of protest against something or someone, and in these cases carries a plea for help. In this way you can visually express deep content that only at a later stage you can turn into mental and verbal content. For this reason it is very important that adults, parents, the main reference, they should strive to interpret these messages in code, not underestimating any request for help and the suffering that they may contain. E ‘with the experience of these feelings that the adolescent learns to know himself.

And times change. Once the boys were doing the tattoo in secret, against the wishes of the parents, it can happen now going to have tattoos accompanied by a parent himself, who decides he might have a tattoo.
Many parents, when children become adolescents, relive their youth while they are made aware of time passing, the old closer. It is not uncommon for them to try something like envy, not always conscious, her children: fear of losing something irretrievably. You can activate a process of regression and many parents tend to adopt behaviors similar to those of children. It ‘obvious that there would be no harm in following fashion, etc. to get a tattoo. But the important thing is to never lose the lead in a child, who might be in that case embroiled in a damaging game exchange of roles by becoming a “parent” of its parent.

What advice would give to a teenage son who wants to get a tattoo?

Categorically prohibit their child getting a tattoo might be experienced by the child as an injustice and a limitation as to the need to be and to express themselves. It ‘important that he has some very clear ideas. First, the tattoo is something that will remain “forever” and one wonders whether, with time, that symbol will continue to represent him. Removing a tattoo is a delicate operation and can present different problems. It ‘also important to make them aware of the risks of diseases related to improper procedures in terms of health and hygiene that you must eventually turn to serious professionals.

From simple tattoo goes (thankfully not all) with extreme situations in which the whole body – including face – can be covered with tattoos. In these cases it is still a need to express or start to enter the field of pathology?

The skin covers the body protecting everything that is “inside” from what is “outside” of us. And ‘our skin and, because the best fulfills its mission of support, in need of care. Symbolically, cover, line it all in full, suggests a skin that breathes with difficulty. But what you may want to communicate tatuandosi completely? It would seem a need to “change skin”, as if to say “I do not like me, want to be other than they are.” Cover completely could be an attempt to mislead others, hiding away behind a curtain, and apparently too threatening. But it is important not to generalize and not to judge in this case may come into play mode, codes of group membership, etc.. Everyone can choose the channel and the mode of communication they prefer and that makes him feel good.

We conclude with a complicated question. It is possible for a psychologist to interpret some features of the personality of the person in front of him starting (also) his tattoos? What a person tells about his tattoo?

For adolescents, the tattoo can be a way to assert a personality still being built. For an adult, which instead has a personality more structured, the choice responds to the desire to stop time to a point in life where you can still transgressing. Many tattooed to schedule an event, a big name. We could ask the special meaning of tattoos very special (a name, a date), why fix to the body? And ‘some’ as if he were afraid that that name or that memory can be somewhat forgotten, removed. The need to mark indelibly on the body that should be engraved in my mind could even think of a difficulty to communicate deeply with themselves.

Probably the area of ​​the body chosen to give a tattoo hides a meaning. When the area is very visible is to think that the person in question wanted to “shout” a message and would like it known to everybody. If space is devoted to tattooing instead of small size, or placed in a more hidden, probably the intention is to talk about that aspect of himself into the intimacy. In any case, it is important to clarify that a psychotherapist for all these are only hypotheses, pure abstractions, a game of interpretations that has huge limitations: it is not possible to know a person only by a sign on his body.