Understanding Tattoos in Medicolegal Assessments

by CosmeticTattoo.org on 07/04/2018 - 12:55 pm

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Title: Understanding Tattoos in Medicolegal Assessments.
Abstract: Tattoos have held different meanings throughout history, with particular significance in cultural, social, and clinical contexts. Psychiatrists have long been interested in understanding the relevance of the tattooed body in a clinical or forensic evaluation and in settling on interpretive models that hold reliable value.

Some studies have indicated that tattoos may be associated with markers of high-risk behaviors, mental illness diagnosis, and personality disorders. We attempt to provide an updated and comprehensive guide for forensic evaluators, so they can incorporate the observation of tattoos into their assessments with a review of the scientific literature that supports the interpretations and places them in context. The association between tattoos and risk, mental health, or behavioral implications is not as clear or linear as one might initially imagine, and mental health professionals should have a sophisticated understanding of the practice.
Industry Significance Rating: Informative - General industry awareness.
Publication: Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online March 2018, 46 (1) 93-101.
Authors: Carolina A. Klein, MD, and Christopher Kenedi, MD, MPH.
Links:  Article Link Link to Publisher Pdf Link Search Google
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As tattooing progressively becomes more mainstream some of the previous studies by psychology, psychiatric and forensic experts may become less relevant for health care personnel in their evaluation of the needs of incarcerated patient groups and the wider community. Klein et al. discuss the findings of some previous studies and the diverse range of tattooing that may be encountered in contemporary society with particular emphasis on mental health and forensic considerations.

As pointed out by the authors "Unfortunately, there has been no contemporary research to highlight the significance of tattoos and psychosocial disorders in the 21st century" this is an extremely important point as the findings of previous studies may not be as relevant today due to the more widespread acceptance of tattooing in comparison to the past (changing demographics). As concluded by the authors "There is a dearth of current research that has been conducted in a structured manner that would produce significant and valuable results" i.e. we must be careful not to draw conclusions about studies from the past and assume that they have direct relevance to people with tattoos in modern society.

These types of publications and a call for future studies may provide health professionals a more accurate framework for evaluating the needs of their patient groups and also potentially removing some of the social stigma associated with tattooing that in part may related to the results of studies from the past.


Medical Report, forensic, incarceration, personality, mental disorders, tattooing


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