Researchers have revealed that forensic psychiatric patients with tattoos are likely to suffer from antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).
They are also expected to have histories of suicide attempt, substance abuse, and sexual abuse.
ASPD is a mental disorder characterised by several psychological and behavioural phenomena, including a lack of empathy and remorse, a low tolerance for anxiety, and shallowness. People with ASPD prefer action to thought, and pathological lying, cheating, stealing, physical aggression and drug abuse are not uncommon.
Forensic psychiatrists work with courts in evaluating an individual's competency to stand trial, defences based on mental diseases or defects (e.g., the "insanity" defense), and sentencing recommendations.
During the study, the researchers from Michigan Centre for Forensic Psychiatry (CFP) studied 36 male inpatients of a maximum-security state forensic psychiatric facility.
Around half of the subjects had been admitted because they were found to be unfit to stand trial and the other half had been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Of the patients studied, 15 had tattoos and 17 were diagnosed as having ASPD. Of those with tattoos, 11 of 15, or 73pct, had ASPD, whereas only six of 21, or 29pct, of those without tattoos had the same diagnosis.
The research also found an increased likelihood for those with tattoos to have previously suffered from sexual abuse, abused substances or to have attempted suicide.
"Our findings suggest that forensic psychiatric inpatients with tattoos are significantly more likely to suffer from ASPD than those without tattoos, and patients with ASPD were also significantly more likely to have higher numbers of tattoos, a larger percentage of their body covered with tattoos, and tended to have tattoos in more visible locations" said lead researcher Dr. William Cardasis, of CFP, Michigan.
The research is published in Personality and Mental Health.