The health of the skin, not just its appearance, is an important metaphor for the health of one’s boundary between self and other. Truly healthy skin acts as a membrane that lets the appropriate things in and keeps the inappropriate things out, on all levels. When you meet a person, the first thing you see is their skin.
It may envelop familiar structures which you recognize, but you are actually looking at their skin and not those structures. They could be a “bag of bones” or “muscular”; the skin is what you see wrapping those underlying structures, and the clothing similarly wraps the skin. You see a
lot things besides the overall shape of the skin.
You see changes of texture from old scarring from events in their lives, from acne, or from too much time in the
sun. You see lines from repeated expressions of emotions in the past, and lines from particular emotions they are experiencing in real time as you interact with them.
Changes in skin color can reveal emotions; people get red with embarrassment, green with disgust, or white with fear. Colors reflect their vitality or illness. The pasty pale individual looks very different than the same individual well and full of vitality. The smell of the skin, too, upon release of hormones can communicate anxiety, turn-on, and other biological and emotional messages.
To your health,
Dr. Alan M. Dattner
New York, New York
As always, the content of this blog is for information and education purposes only, and should not be used to prevent, diagnose or treat illness; please see your physician for care.