Psychology of Scars and How They Affect People

facialscarsWe all have scars be they emotional, physical or psychological and they will all affect people in different ways. The emotions surrounding the physical scars can also leak over into the emotional and psychological and cause people significant self image issues and lower self confidence.

Scars and Attractiveness

But is it always the case that scars are a negative in peoples lives? Some women can find scars attractive and see them as creating the ‘bad boy effect’ where women are attracted to men who seem like they have been involved in a fight at some point. Having a facial scar doesn’t necessarily mean that they have been in a fight but this is the conclusion that is drawn when the women are asked where they got the scar Burriss et al (2009)

Also in this study the results showed that women actually rated men with facial scars as more desirable for a short term relationship than men without scars. And for all of those self conscious women out there with facial scars the results also showed that there was no difference in attractiveness rating between women with facial scars and those without.

Self Confidence in People With Scars

A lot of research has been done in this area for the after care of people like burn victims or those with severe facial scarring. Often in the cases of these patients it can cause them to suffer from depression (between 13-23% of cases) or post traumatic stress disorder (between 13-45% of cases) and this obviously would have a knock on effect to their confidence (Van Loey & Van Son, 2003).

Most studies about scars have focused on facial scars because obviously that is the area where everyone looks first and so they are going to be noticed the most. But it isn’t just facial scars that can cause people social discomfort. A survey performed in 2003 found a small but significant correlation between a scar being visible on any part of their body and how they felt they were perceived (Lawrence et al, 2003). More specifically people with visible scars felt that they were stigmatised, that people reacted negatively to their scars and that they were less attractive because of their scar.

This just highlights the difference between what people believe about themselves and what other people actually think. If you have a scar you feel less attractive and are more self conscious but in fact the results show that if you have a facial scar it either makes no difference or makes you more attractive.

So if you have a scar that you’re worried about then think back to this article and remember that every scar tells a story and makes you a stronger person.

About Alexander Burgemeester

13 Responses to “Psychology of Scars and How They Affect People”

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  1. Paul Dickson says:

    My name is Paul and I have a huge scar on my right side between my neck and my face. I got the scar when I was going four-wheeling with my cousin on his ATV when I crashed the ATV through a barbed wire fence. I was twelve going on to thirteen years of age and the accident happened in August of 1999. I am now 34 years old and the scar is still visible! In recent years, I have embraced my scar. It shows that God was looking out for me. The barbed wire fence was close to getting my jugular and it shows that I am an ATV accident survivor. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

  2. Christina Shea says:

    I got a scar on my leg…it is about 8″ and in a curved line. I had it since I was in elementary school. I was bullied, and a glass door fell on me. I am lucky that I am alive today. When I was in my 20’s my face began to get bad acne and I still have scars from that. I feel like people think I was in a big blowout or have a war wound. It affects my daily life, and I am embarrassed for people to see me in public places. I have had some therapy, and I need to remind myself that people don’t judge me by my scars.

  3. Leah Romero says:

    I have lots of scars both of my legs since I was a child. I grew up in the slums and got terrible allergy and insect bites. Now, I grew up to be a tall lady with lean long legs but for my 24 years of existence I never got to wear skirts or dresses without stockings. This made me so sad because I was aspiring to join pageants and modelling but was turned down and ridiculed because of it. So I decided to focus on my career but I hate the fact that I’ve been avoiding socialization with my colleagues everytime that we have programs or go out as a team to beaches, etc. I have been going to dermatologists undergoing procedure as what they always say, it helps to “improve”. Yes, improve very minimal but you can still see the scars scattered on my legs. I have spent money and it hurts me seeing that it’s almost the same before the procedures. It breaks my heart because I put so much effort on it but it’s still the same. Now, I’m letting go of my dreams and I’m becoming more and more less social. I just wanna cry and stay at home always. For 24 years I’ve been wearing pants and I just can’t deal with it anymore.

    • Christina Shea says:

      Hi Leah,
      I understand your emotional pain. I have a scar on my leg and I don’t like to go to the beach unless I am by myself or a close friend. People don’t notice scars as much as we think. They don’t judge a person with scars either. Don’t be afraid to go out with your friends. I finally did go to the beach with my coworkers and I wore shorts, but I still had fun. I became closer to the people who I care about.

  4. Maddy Terrell says:

    I have a scar below my pointer finger on my right hand. I like it for some reason, it’s not like it was caused from something bad. All that happened was I reached under a bunk bead, made of smooth metal, to get a pair of shoes and my hand twitched, which caused my hand to hit the underside of the frame. It didn’t hurt too much, but it wouldn’t stop bleeding. But I guess it reminds me of my childhood and the fun (and bad times) I’ve had. Like how the man I hate, my stepdad, for once cared for me and wrapped my hand up (over-excessibly) with bandage. Which in turn, leads me to memories of my going to my sister’s cheerleading practice and just talking about it with some random people (which is kind of unlike me). It also reminds me of when that bed broke and I ended up hanging off the side of the top bee’s railing. Which afterwards made me laugh. Now im thinking about how I usd the word “which” a lot. I guess that scar reminds me of the pleasant memories that make me, me. I seriously just now realized that. It’s funny how all you need to do sometimes is type a message that people might read just to figure something out and/or to get it off your chest. It’s also funny, how I can delete this and choose not to show the world this, but instead I’m gonna press send and show others my experiences. Probably in the future, someone will read this and think, did that really happen to people back then? And now because I thought of that, I’m gonna date this comment. Monday, March 19, 2017, 11:10 PM Central Time

  5. Katensqiires says:

    I hav a skin picking disorder with my depression and losing my mam i hav made my full body and face a total mess im so ashamed of how much damage ive done on my face i suffer from foliculitus ingrown hairs im really badly depressed through the scarring it was sort of a self harm but got out of control i so ashamed of what ive done im hoing to ask my doctor to refer me to dermatologiist because the scarring on my face and neck is horrible and is really affecting me badly i cannot go more depressed in what i am i need to get better

  6. Sadie Ro says:

    something can be done about your scar ^
    Look up scar revision I just had a indented scar the size of a tennis ball on my calf and after that surgery it’s reduced to a thin vertical line. Still a scar there just way smaller, but it gave me a lot of self esteem back

  7. Ravi says:

    I have a big scar , right in the center of my forehead , I cant d0 anything about it .
    Visited the best plastic surgeons as well. It makes me very uncomfortable and kills my confidence.

    I know this article aims at motivating people like me. but I am always looking to avoid people , my social life is gone. Don’t know what I could do.
    Love and relationship things . I had stop dreaming about them long time back.

    • Angela says:

      Why cant you do anything about it? What did the plastic surgeons say? Could you recommend the ones you went to. I was recently attacked by a dog in my face by my lip and nose three weeks ago. I am struggling emotionally and avoid social situations and people as well.

    • Angel says:

      I have a big scar right in the middle of my forehead as well. Honestly it’s not so bad being different, embrace your individuality. It makes you unique and if someone doesn’t like you just because you have a scar, screw them. You don’t need those kind of people in your life anyways. Idk how big yours is but mine goes all the way down my nose and up my forehead. Maybe we can talk? I have email, Snapchat, Instagram and a phone number, whatever works for you.

      • Angad says:

        Glad to see a recent comment.
        I have a scar on my right cheek, starts just above my right nostril and goes slanted at nearly 45° downwards, across the cheek. Wasn’t much of a problem until I reached adolescence. That’s when kids start caring about their appearance. Grew up super-introverted, and shy, don’t know if it’s caused by the presence of scar, but low self-esteem definitely is. Almost no close friends.

        You know that feeling when you find someone looking at you in a public transport, and you just want to disappear, run to your room and never get out again. Or people looking below your eyes when talking to you.

        I am trying to embrace it, and start building myself up, I see you have done that.

      • Jen says:

        I just googled scars and the psychological effect because I am in so much pain. I recently had an accident and the lower part of my forehead was sliced open. The scar is pretty new but I find it so ugly and I don’t want to leave my apartment or see anyone. I already suffer from image issues my whole life so I am just worried I have gone down the rabbit hole and will never come back. I google scar treatments obsessively. Suffice to say, this is not a life. I cannot shift this so easily as some I read because I just have no confidence. I would say this is desperation calling. It’s also just been the worst two years of my life. I lost my dad, dog, lover, job all during lockdown and I am afraid this may bury me. SOS if anyone has words to share.

    • Christina Shea says:

      Ravi,
      Hi. I would try to think of it as something cool, like you see in the movies from a famous actor. Maybe, wear your hair over it in a cute style. People probably don’t even notice your scar. Only you felt the pain with it and that is how you remember the scar. It may be an emotional barrier. The scar on my leg was painful and I had 2 surgeries. I wear shorts over it, and only go swimming when I am comfortable. I tell my boyfriend that I got in an accident with a glass door. People always wonder what happened because the scar is 8″. If I think about it too long, then the past pain turns into conflict, moodiness, and unstable emotions. I just know that it will always be there, and try not to let it control my life. Think happy thoughts. Best wishes.

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