The psychodynamics of tattooing: a review

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The ancient art of tattooing has diverse meanings. In the South Seas archipelagos and in some Asian civilizations (India, Burma, and Japan) it has religious significance and is prized as a means of adornment. The intense pursuit of identity and autonomy that occurs during adolescence brings to the surface subconscious feelings, particularly of aggression and sexuality. These are often expressed by a rebellion against the standards of authority. A dramatic and indelible manner of expressing these conflicts is through symbols in tattooing. It is important for the pediatrician to explore the subconscious drives that govern the personality and behavior of his patients. An awareness and interpretation of what the patient is expressing through his tattoos aids in understanding the needs of the individual.



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