Science Explains If Tattoo Addiction Is Real

Science Explains If Tattoo Addiction Is Real

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Science Explains If Tattoo Addiction Is Real

Micah Herman has almost 30 tattoos, but has never gotten his head inked before. On a Thursday night in Melrose Tattoo shop in West Hollywood, California, he waits patiently as his artist, Dean Berton, gets ready to ink him again.

Why his head?

“I’ve always liked tattoos on the hands, the sides of the neck and face,” Herman explains. “I like the idea that I can grow [out my hair] and you can’t see it.” ALSO: Semicolon Tattoos Have Become a Powerful Symbol For the Mental Health Community

Dean tattooing Herman Herman, 26, calmly lays down on his side and waits, his purple mohawk undisturbed by the table he’s on. He’s one of 45 million people in the U.S. who have at least one tattoo, according to data compiled by the Statistic Brain Research Institute. He’s also a member of the 32 percent of Americans who report they are addicted to getting inked.

“After the first tattoo I got on my arm, I immediately wanted a sleeve,” Micah explains. “I had no desire for one beforehand, yet after getting that first one I just could’t stop envisioning my arm covered.” Are tattoos really addictive?

Some people theorize that the pain that comes along with getting tattooed might be addictive, a type of euphoric rush. There have even been television shows based entirely on the psychological effects of tattoos, like Spike TV’s "Ink Shrinks ." Others say that tattooed people like the attention they get from new ink.

"Tattoos idealize youth and fertility by drawing eyes to youthful skin and often erotic parts of the body," Kirby Farrell, Ph.D., writes in Psychology Today . "We’re social animals. It’s how we’re built… We rely on social behavior — attention — to substantiate us and make us feel real."

"Tattoos promise to make you attractive , as if you have a personal force akin to gravity. Notice me, " Dr. Farrell continues. "The more attraction you command, the more attention you […]