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Gang membership: links to violence exposure, paranoia, PTSD, anxiety and forced control of behavior in prison

Wood, Jane L., Dennard, Sophie (2017) Gang membership: links to violence exposure, paranoia, PTSD, anxiety and forced control of behavior in prison. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 80 (1). pp. 30-41. ISSN 0033-2747. E-ISSN 1943-281X. (doi:10.1080/00332747.2016.1199185) (KAR id:57800)


Objective: Gang membership inherently links to violence, and violent experiences strongly relate to PTSD, anxiety, and paranoia. Yet to date, gang members’ mental health has received little attention, and their paranoia has not been examined. This study, using established measures, assessed street gang and non-gang prisoners’ levels of: violence exposure, symptoms of PTSD, paranoia, and anxiety, forced behavioral control, and segregation in prison. Method: Participants were 65 (32 gang & 33 non-gang) prisoners, recruited using opportunity sampling. Participants provided informed consent, and were interviewed individually. Interviews were anonymized to maintain confidentiality. Chi Square and discriminant function analyses were used to compare participants’ demographics, segregation levels, mental health symptoms, and identify predictors of street gang membership. Results: As compared to non-gang prisoners, street gang prisoners have higher levels of exposure to violence, symptoms of paranoia, PTSD, anxiety, and forced control of their behavior in prison. Street gang prisoners were not more likely to be segregated, but they were more likely to belong to ethnic minorities. Street gang prisoners were only found to be younger than non-gang prisoners, when other variables were controlled for. Conclusions: Mental health deserves more attention in gang research. The implications of findings are that gang membership may undermine members’ mental health, and/or that individuals with existing mental health problems, may be those attracted to gang membership. Moreover, justice responses, via policies and intervention strategies, need to identify and address the mental health needs in gang member prisoners, if successful rehabilitation of gang members is to be achieved.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/00332747.2016.1199185
Uncontrolled keywords: Gangs, mental health, paranoia, PTSD, anxiety, disruption, prison
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV9069 Juvenile delinquency
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Jane Wood
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2016 09:07 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 16:37 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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