LOVE is a beautiful thing and should be celebrated in any way possible. People have different ways of showing and expressing love and affection. Of late, the practice of having a loved one’s name or face tattooed to one’s body has become trendy and the in thing.
By Michael Gwarisa
Maybe before delving into the gist of this article, it is critical to speak briefly on the background of tattoos and how they became a part of our lives. A tattoo is defined as an indelible or permanent mark fixed upon the body by inserting pigment or color under the skin. According to history, the earliest evidence of tattoo art dates back from 5000 BCE and they have been used over time to communicate various forms of messages and meaning.
The ancient Greeks used tattoos from the 5th Century on to communicate among spies; later the Romans marked criminals and slaves with tattoos. In Africa and some parts of the world, tattoos were tribal marks to enable easy identification. Over the years, tattoos have evolved from being mere identification symbols or marks into even bigger codes that bear strong psychological messages such as love, affection and or grief.
Coming to the world of love, tattoos have become a symbol of oneness and at times acts as proof that indeed the relationship is not built on shacky ground. But have you ever thought what would happen when you break up and you so desperately want to move but you have this permanent reminder of the relationship inscribed somewhere on your body? Even though some tattoos are planted where the sun rarely shines and one wouldn’t even need to worry about an Ex who would have left, some are however inked where they constantly remind you of a once flourishing relationship that ended badly.
Speaking to HealthTimes, Zimbabwe’s top Psychologist and Academic, Dr Kudakwashe Muchena said tattoos act as a compass to a person’s inner thoughts, feelings and emotions but they also act as constant reminders of certain not so pleasant things, people or events that can stop people from completely moving on in life.
Tattoos are from a mental health or psychological perspective are based on what is called “Art Therapy,” said Dr Muchena adding that Art Therapy is where people use art either to heal or demonstrate their mental health challenges or to express their mental health issues.
“If you look at most tattoos, you see people using or drawing either an animal and whatever they draw. Some use Tattoos to express either love, some use them to express affection, some use them to mourn their deceased either parents or partners or whichever.
“In most cases you realize that a lot of people over exaggerate, you see someone having tattoos all over the body. It stops being just a symbol for something but might expresses some mental health aspects that they expressing within each and every tattoo.
“Like I indicated earlier on, tattoos are either used to mourn loved ones or as symbols of affection. Now by the fact that these are marks and they stay permanently on the body, what then happens when the love ends, what happens when that affection ceases to be there because tattoos by nature are permanent. Are you going to remove it afterwards?”
He added that apart from tattoos being used in the love circles, some use them in gangs or to instill fear in others but the bottom line behind tattoos is that they all reflect an inner state of mental health and in some cases, they could be a cry for help.
“One needs to understand the basics behind the tattoos or drawings and once you understand then you will be able to actually assist the person that is expressing that. All tattoos are centered around something to do with expressing one’s mental health or mental capacity to say what exactly does this reflect on their mental health.
“Psychologists use a lot of art in terms of helping people and understanding the mental health of different people. They are called projective tests and once you see that drawing or tattoo, you can then be able come up with a projection to say this is an expression of this type of emotion of feeling and this person needs help in this area,” said Dr Muchena.
He also said Art has also been adopted by psychological therapists who deal with children and it was an easy way of resolving children’s mental health related issues.
“A lot of therapists use art to express when dealing especially with children. They tell children to draw different objects and, in the drawings, they actually express what the underlying mental health behind that. So same applies to tattoos where you see someone expressing their mental health issues in the form of a tattoo so that people can actually see when they are or where they are coming from.”