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The nature of addiction

Posted by Andrew on Dec 7, 2015 12:02:12 PM

Most people would define tattoos as an art or passion, with the term “addiction” seeming a little extreme, and reliant on underlying psychological or physiological conditions. Are these elements associated with tattoos? One tattoo often leads to another, and another, sometimes resulting in a spiralling full body mass of interrelated body art.

Physiological symptoms can often be associated with adrenaline. Most customers agree that getting a tattoo hurts a little, or a lot. Pain in the body stimulates the “sympathetic nervous system”. The body’s fight-or-flight response results in the release of adrenaline as a reaction to pain. The recent rise in “adrenaline junkie” pursuits has increased the popularity of tattoos.

Endorphins released from the pituitary gland flood the body in response to pain. The effects are comparable to the “natural high” of exercise or sensual stimulation. The drive to get an endorphin rush can be addictive. Pain itself has an intoxicating effect for some people. Tolerating pain is a form of mind control experienced by martial arts practitioners, and is much valued in the military.

Psychological reasons for increasing the number of tattoos are many. Seeking attention can be one reason. The purpose may be benign, such as a tattoo that draws awareness to breaking down social barriers. On the other hand, an insecure person may increase the number of tattoos in order to be noticed; possibly even as a cry for help due to circumstances totally unrelated to tattoos.

Self expression uses tattoo art by attempting to present the inner person to the outside world, for the same reasons that writers, artists, and dancers express themselves. This self expression can be attributed to artistic freedom. Just as artists in other pursuits can exhibit a seeming addiction to their chosen art form, tattoo aficionados often feel a similar pull toward expression of their artistic vision. Activists totally dedicated to a cause often resemble addicts in relentless single minded pursuit of their goal. Sometimes, the desire to add additional tattoos is seen as an attempt to continually defy conventions. For some customers, the symbolic act of getting the tattoo is more important than the tattoo itself.

Many people enjoy collecting. It is a hobby that produces enjoyment. Occasionally the desire to collect objects can get out of hand. It is not uncommon for collectors to try giving up collecting their desired object, as it has put a strain on finances or relationships. Often they are unable to stop. A person collecting tattoos on their own body can also fall victim to the same desire.

People get tattoos for social, cosmetic, cultural, and organisational reasons. As with any pursuit, someone interested in tattoos can begin to spend an inordinate amount of time spent in the “world” of tattoos, at the expense of fulfilling regular day to day duties and responsibilities. Everyone can be benefited by a hobby, but when it impacts relationships, work, or the ability to meet deadlines or pay bills, there could be a problem.

As of 2013, approximately 30 percent of all Australian’s have tattoos. About 10 percent of those have a desire to remove a tattoo they don’t like. There are just as many reasons for wanting a tattoo removed as there are for getting a tattoo. Attachment to a good thing is great, unless in excess. The same goes for tattoos. They can be life-affirming, liberating, and celebratory, but in excess can ultimately conceal the wearer under a blanket of colourful ink, hiding the very personality they had intended to shine through.

Fortunately, the upsurge in tattoos has also resulted in dramatic advances in laser tattoo removal science. Q-Switched laser is the modern option for tattoo removal, replacing the painful and dangerous methods of decades gone by. This type of removal creates minimal damage to the skin. Instead, the tattoo ink is broken down by the laser, with the body then flushing away ink particles in a natural physical process. There is very little down time, and the results are astounding.

Possibly, addiction is too strong a word. Obsession may be closer to the mark. But then again obsession can lead to compulsion, with compulsion the precursor to addiction. FDA approved Sydney tattoo removal clinics can reverse or correct the external appearance, helping customers to find the right balance in their personal expression of body art.

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