picture of book Acne: A Memoir (by Laura Chinn)

Can Our Emotions Cause or Cure Acne?

The other day I was walking around in downtown Abilene, and outside of one of the stores was a table of books. As any librarian and/or book lover would do, I paused to glance over the titles. Only one book really caught my eye:

Acne: A Memoir

I loved the simple design of the cover, light pink with varying sizes of red dots sprinkled all over it. It seemed like a no-brainer for me – I love memoirs, I love reading… I don’t love acne, but unfortunately it has had quite an impact on me and my story.

I scanned the book for a price, and suddenly saw a sign that said “Free books: Limit 1 per customer.” Free book??? Even better.

I had no idea what this book was really going to be like, but when I came to this paragraph on the second page, I knew I was going to like it:

“After genocide, nuclear war, famine, slavery, and child abuse, acne is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person. Okay, fine, maybe cancer is worse, and probably a bunch of other stuff, but acne is bad, really bad, and if you haven’t lived though it then… honestly, go f*** yourself.”

— Laura Chinn (p. 2)

I laughed out loud when I read that last part! It was so honest and real. If you’ve never had bad acne, you will think these sentiments are crazy exaggerations. If you have struggled with bad acne, you’ll know that during your lowest points of dealing with red spots all over your face, you literally do feel like this sometimes.

My experience with acne is something that deeply affected me, more than I ever knew until I really started doing some reflecting upon the experience in my 30’s. It affected my body image (I stopped thinking I was pretty, and in fact, was convinced that because of acne scarring I could never be beautiful again), my idea of my own self-worth (I questioned why anyone would want to be friends with someone as ugly as me), and my mental and physical health (I had a few years of extreme dieting when I was trying to find the perfect diet to “cure” my acne, and instead ended up losing so much weight that my period stopped).

Acne is no joke.

I loved this book because it validated a lot of the feelings I had experienced at one point or another during my own acne journey. The author, like me, got to a point of being so obsessed with having perfect skin that she was willing to sacrifice other areas of her health and safety.

That alone would have made this book an interesting read for me. However, it took a surprise turn at the end, which I found very intriguing. (*semi-spoiler alert ahead!*)

In the last part of the author’s quest for clear skin, she happened to be going to a spiritual healer of sorts. (Not that she really believed in that sort of thing, but she was desperate.) The healer told Chinn that she had acne on the outside because she was angry and holding on to resentment and bitterness on the inside. And after considering it, Chinn realized she was angry.

She began working on forgiving her parents and other people who had hurt her in the past, (and there were some big hurts to unpack). And perhaps most importantly, she began working on forgiving herself.

And the crazy thing is that her acne began healing. Years of doing all kinds of crazy things, taking medications, and going on extreme diets… and it wasn’t until she began doing some emotional healing, specifically forgiving, that her skin started to heal as well.

Chinn describes this phenomenon on page 292:

“I take all the money, effort, and time I was putting toward microdermabrasion, facials, and benzoyl peroxide, and I put it all toward learning how to forgive. I honestly wish I could bottle forgiveness and sell it; I’d put Proactiv out of business in a week.”

I found this to be so interesting. It was a new one to me for sure, and I’d been seeking out acne cures for the better half of my life!

After reading this book, it also suddenly hit me what my word for the year 2022 was: FORGIVE.

I won’t say I’ve done a great job at having this word be my focus for the year. I think I conveniently forgot about it for about 4 or 5 months altogether.

But the idea of forgiveness continues to crop up for me in the most surprising places, and this was just another instance of that happening.

Can forgiveness and emotional healing really cure acne? Honestly, I don’t know. And of course, what works miracles for one person often doesn’t work at all for someone else. Chinn recognizes this and is not promoting emotional work as the answer for everyone. As she states on page 295: “The last thing I want in the world is for people who are dealing with skin conditions to get even more unsolicited advice.”

Whether forgiveness of ourselves and others cures physical ailments or not, it’s obviously still a worthwhile endeavor – not easy, but worthwhile.

Thanks for reading ❤

Also, I’d encourage you to check out Laura Chinn’s memoir for yourself, especially if you’ve ever struggled with acne in your life!

2 thoughts on “Can Our Emotions Cause or Cure Acne?

  1. This is so fascinating! I believe it is all connected, mind-body-spirit. Our bodies hold so much for us, including secrets of release and wellness. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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