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Psychiatry Res. 2011 Dec 30;190(2-3):359-63. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.06.001. Epub 2011 Jun 25.

Motivations for body piercings and tattoos - the role of sexual abuse and the frequency of body modifications.

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Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Psychotherapy and Pain Therapy, Asklepios Clinic, Hamburg, Germany.


Though the popularity of body modification increases, psychosocial data about practitioners of body piercing and tattooing are few and controversial. Most studies used semi-structured interviews and relatively small sample sizes. The aim of this study was to explore psychosocial background information (motivation, sexual abuse) for body modification practises based on a sufficiently large sample. A core group of 432 subjects with body piercings and/or tattoos (readers of a specialised magazine on body modification; mean age: 28 years) was investigated in this study using a 55-item questionnaire. The mean number of body modifications (piercings and tattoos) was nine. Participants with a history of sexual abuse and high users with more than 10 body modifications differed from those without these features with respect to several motivations and consequences of body modification. Participants with sexual abuse often stated that they wanted to overcome certain experiences, and high users were characterised by the feeling of an addiction to continue body modification. Clinicians should include questions on body modifications and their motives in anamnestic schedules.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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