New research coming out of the United States has revealed that certain criminals with tattoos are more likely to suffer from anti-social personality disorder (ASPD). Researchers looked at forensic psychiatry patients in Michigan, with more than half of them being deemed unfit to stand trial, and the other half being found guilty by reasons of insanity. Results from the study showed that 73% of the group that was tattooed, also had strong indications of ASPD.

Those that suffer from this diagnosis are characterized by a lack of empathy towards others or their own actions, and are more prone to pathological lying, stealing, drug abuse, cheating, and physical aggression – all markers of the criminal psychopathology. The research also found that those that had tattoos, also were more likely to be victims of sexual abuse, to have abused drugs, or to have attempted suicide at least once in their history.

The lead researcher, Dr. William Cardasis of of the Michigan Centre For Forensic Psychiatry, says:

“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.I hope this provides clues for clinicians to look for ASPD in forensic psychiatric patients with tattoos, and also to look for signs of suicide attempt, substance abuse, and sexual abuse.”

Not too sure what I think about this, as I am of the opinion that any research can be conducted to prove just about anything. While there is no question that a specific criminal profile exists, I am inclined to think that having a tattoo will not predispose someone to criminal activity. If that were the case, our system would be even more clogged than it is now, as tattoos are certainly on the rise with both men and women.

Some tattoo aficionados seem to agree. Kenny Mitchell, owner of Land Ahoy Tattoos in Scotland is outraged:

“You could also say that all these people in this survey have a short back and sides haircut. Does that make them anti-social? I’m sure you could find a lot more that these people have in common than a tattoo.”

Tattoo activists are saying that research such as this is only magnifying the stigma that tattoo wearers are trying to move away from. Well, you know what they say, one step forward, two steps back.

What do you all think?