A Tattoo?! Are You Crazy?!
One certainly does not need to be a sociopath in order to get tattoos, nor does the appearance of a tattoo mean that a person is one. However, numerous studies have shown that most sociopaths do indeed have tattoos as being one of their strongest common factors. In addition, a well-known crime writer stated in an interview that every single one of the many serial killers he had spoken with had had multiple tattoos. For many people, tattoos hold no negative connotation; for those who already have serious personality defects, tattoos are often a very visible symbol of it. For those in the latter category, everything about tattoos has an entirely different purpose and meaning than it does to the majority-- why they feel the need to get them, and what they represent.
Psychologists tend to refer to tattoos as "body modification;" and most have both very strong opinions and knowledge about how tattoos are connected to those who are in the minority. On the most clearly defined side, psychologists state that for those who already exhibit signs of personality defects, tattoos are but an extension of their anti-social personalities. It is said that these types of individuals who engage in drug use, promiscuity, and violence, merely make tattoos a part of that particular lifestyle.
Psychologists state that these traits, coupled with tattoos, are linked to subclinical psychopathy. In clearer terms, for this segment of the population, getting tattoos is yet another means of "thumbing one's nose" at society, and of displaying one's sense of self-importance. As one of the foundations of sociopathy is to refuse to adhere to what is generally considered to be acceptable behavior. given that tattoos still have some degree of negativity associated with them, they are of special allure to those who already have serious personality problems. For these people, acquiring tattoos is primarily an aggressive means of defying what is conventional.
In using tattoos in this manner, one also presents a "tough" image. The problem with this is when one uses what to most people is relatively harmless to portray a sense of toughness, it is rare that the individual in question will stop at artwork. For one who connects tattoos with toughness, aggression in his behavior is also a very real possibility.
While this fact is relevant to sociopaths in general, and cannot afford to be overlooked, it takes on an even darker side for those who commit serious violent crimes. In research regarding serial killers, a much worse connection comes up about tattoos. Continuing with the factors already evident in sociopaths, there are the additional factors of causing bodily harm and of refusing to let go. In plainer terms, these types of individuals gain tattoos-- often by their own attempts-- both as a means of expressing hatred and as a means of permanently holding on to the objects of their hatred.
On a slightly lesser but still important scale, as most of the individuals who fall into the categories of sociopaths and violent criminals were subjected to severe abuse in childhood, it is relevant to note that it is not unusual at all for them to display, in their adult life, tattoos with the name or some representative symbol of their abusive parent.
When facts like this are taken into consideration, even if much of the population isn't aware of it, it's no wonder tattoos have such a negative reputation. While it is true that most people in the United States of America choose to get tattoos for no negative reason and no underlying motives whatsoever, learning that tattoos are a common standard amongst sociopaths and serial killers does tend to lend a less-than-desirable quality to the entire subject.