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The Psychology of Scars

“I see beauty as the grace point between what hurts and what heals, between the shadow of tragedy and the light of joy. I find beauty in my scars” (Alexandra Heather Foss).

Every scar tells a story. For the heart defect patient who has undergone major cardiac surgery, their beautiful battle wounds are on proud display - a reminder of how far their owner has come; how brave their heart; and how supportive their families and friends have been and still are. A story that lives on forever, that gives insight into their movements through the hospital and one that is told to the public sometimes without permission.

When it comes to scars, the power you give them through the story you tell of them is ultimately the beginning of the psychological effect a scar will have on a person. “It is not the severity or the location of the scar that has the greatest potential to shape its bearer… it is the narratives we tell ourselves and the narratives we share with others” (Psychology Today, 2017). According to psychological research carried out in the United Kingdom, for a scar to be integrated into one’s persona and person, it is important for it to be acknowledged and not hidden away: finding the balance between letting it define you, accepting the attention it attracts and yet not being held back by it (, 2016).

Scar-bearers who have attained their battle wounds by means of surgical procedures of a general anesthetic nature, experience a reality in which their physical bodies have endured circumstances that the mind cannot recall. Parents or guardians of children to which the above applies, should guide and support their child in filling in the memory lapse with a narrative of their own making - in other words, the conclusion should be arrived at organically for a wholesome healing to manifest. In this way, the scar-bearer is thoughtfully considering what their scars mean to them (Psychology Today, 2017).

While our scars may “make us stronger”, the story behind the scar should not be overlooked. Unearth the beauty of the pain in the journey; the deep and profound gratitude it may have instilled. Often what is revealed is rich and rewarding. See scars and hear stories. The healing process will complete in its own time; the light of joy and the beauty of the scar will forever be the reality.


© Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute 2017 | Images: Derek Owen Sources:


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