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Finding Your True Self

By: Anne Martin
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the May 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 6 of 8

Powerlessness and the variable nature of acne translate into feelings of helplessness, both in controlling the skin and depending on it. People expect order, or so science would have it. Instead, those who are afflicted with acne experience chaos.

Chaos and acne

Specific physical occurrences, such as hypercornification, increased oil retention, lipid abnormalities, inflammation, bacterial action, genetics, hormonal events and stress—which is defined as any change an organism undergoes, either positive or negative, contribute to acne. Yet, after so many years of research, according to Experimental Dermatology, “the exact sequence, precise interdependence and choreography of pathogenic events in acne, especially the ‘match that lights the fire,’ have remained surprisingly unclear.”7 The Chaos Theory, a scientific theory that searches for the underlying order in apparently random data, suggests that even if such a “match” is found, acne ultimately will remain unpredictable.

Pay attention

Meanwhile, the skin care profession offers clients treatments and care, either in tandem with a dermatologist or alone. Treatments can involve immediate and long-range plans, as well as education. Care, on the other hand, requires something else from practitioners. You understand deeply that you need to pay attention to the person who sits before you, whose life has been undone by an epidermis gone mad, and to the poor skin, whose lot it is to be so confused, ill treated and reviled by the one to whom it belongs. Attention to the person whose chances to “experience depth, relatedness and value in life”1 have been impaired. Attention to “diminished soulfulness,” the psychosocial consequence of having acne. When understood this way, “soul is not a thing, nor an object of religious belief; it is a quality or dimension of experiencing life and ourselves.”1

“Ancient psychology … held that the fate and character of each of us is born in mystery; Renaissance doctors said that the essence of each person originates as a star in the heavens.”1 How far we have fallen from those wondrous beliefs; how much greater the distance is for the acne sufferer.

Those who treat clients with acne are fervent believers that it is possible to soothe and quiet the disease. You seek not to control it because acne has so many variables. Rather, you search for more effective and faster solutions that cause less damage. You attempt to hold it off for longer stretches so that the client experiences fewer bouts.