Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Adam Davis

Reader 2

Kasper Kovitz

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© 2016 Jocelyn D. Gardner


Categorization is a process that simplifies thoughts into manageable pieces by grouping related entities. This reductive analysis can lead to internal harm in individuals’ overarching identities, or Ganzheiten, which is the focus of this thesis. Given that categorization is necessary to our conceptual management of the world, is there a way to counteract the internal harms it can cause? Because acts of self-affirmation can have healing effects, I argue that one manifestation of permanent self-affirmation—custom tattooing—can be an effective repudiation of the divisiveness and reduction categories cause. Custom tattooing’s permanence, individualization, and personal significance make it a great choice as a method of healing internal damage caused by external categorization. Though tattoos might not be the answer for every person experiencing internalized categorization, I have shown that it should be considered as a valid source for the self-affirmation needed to heal from or counteract such internalized harms.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.