Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Gang Members Found to Suffer Unprecedented Levels of Psychiatric Illness

From the 12 July post at Science Daily

 

Young men who are gang members suffer unprecedented levels of psychiatric illness, placing a heavy burden on mental health services, according to new research led by Queen Mary, University of London.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Maurice & Jacqueline Bennett Charitable Trust funded study surveyed 4,664 men aged 18 to 34 in Britain. The survey covered measures of psychiatric illness, violence and gang membership. It is the first time research has looked into whether gang violence is associated with psychiatric illness, other than substance misuse.

In terms of mental health, gang members and violent men were significantly more likely to suffer from a mental disorder and access psychiatric services than non-violent men. The exception was depression, which was significantly less common among gang members and violent men.

Violent ruminative thinking, violent victimisation and fear of further victimisation were significantly higher in gang members and believed to account for high levels of psychosis and anxiety disorder in gang members.

The findings showed that, of the 108 gang members surveyed:

  • 85.8 per cent had an antisocial personality disorder;
  • Two-thirds were alcohol dependent;
  • 25.1 per cent screened positive for psychosis;
  • More than half (57.4 per cent) were drug dependent;
  • Around a third (34.2 per cent) had attempted suicide; and
  • More than half (58.9 per cent) had an anxiety disorder.

The authors suggest that the higher rate of attempted suicide attempts among gang members may be associated with other psychiatric illness, but could also correspond with the notion that impulsive violence may be directed both outwardly and inwardly.

Street gangs are concentrated in inner urban areas characterised by socioeconomic deprivation, high crime rates and multiple social problems. The authors report that around one per cent of 18 to 34-year-old men in Britain are gang members. The level rises to 8.6 per cent in the London borough of Hackney, where one in five black men reported gang membership….

English: An MS-13 suspect bearing gang tattoos...

English: An MS-13 suspect bearing gang tattoos is handcuffed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Evolutionary Psychology of Crime

From the January 2012 Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical criminology  article at http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/busslab/pdffiles/Evolutionary-psychology-and-crime.pdf

Evolutionary psychology provides a powerful set of tools for understanding human behavior, including criminal behavior and responses to criminal behavior. One set of tools entails furnishing hypotheses about the underlying psychological mechanisms that could plausibly be part of the causal chain leading to criminal behavior and responses to it. Because all psychological mechanisms require environmental input for their activation, these hypotheses include a specification of circumstances in which criminal behavior is likely to be enacted or inhibited. A somewhat different set of the tools, also potentially quite valuable, is that evolutionary psychology provides heuristic value, guiding criminologists to examine domains previously unexplored or to uncover elements in the causal chain that otherwise might be missed by existing criminology theories. By introducing evolutionary explanations, Durrant and Ward (this volume) provide a valuable service in opening the door for both sets of tools provides by evolutionary psychology in the understanding criminal behavior.

According to evolutionary psychology, all human behavior, criminal or otherwise, is a product of psychological mechanisms (instantiated in the brain) combined with environmental input that activates them or inhibits their activation. Consider calluses. Explanatory understanding the thickness and distribution of calluses on the human skin within individuals over time and across individuals and cultures at any point in time requires (1) knowledge that humans have evolved callus-producing adaptations whose proper function is to protect the underlying physiological and anatomical structures beneath the skin, and (2) knowledge that the environmental input of repeated friction to skin is required for activating the callus-producing mechanisms. Evolutionary psychology, in short, is fundamentally an interactionist framework.

April 13, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Reducing Gun Violence: Results from an Intervention in East Los Angeles [pdf]

Reducing Gun Violence

Results from an Intervention in East Los Angeles

Cover: Reducing Gun Violence

How does one solve violent crime in big cities? It’s a vexing problem, and one that attracted the attention of a group of scholars at the RAND Corporation. This 82-page eBook released in 2010 takes a close look at how the Boston Gun Project might work if applied in East Los Angeles. In Boston, a coalition of researchers, community leaders, clergy, and others, worked together and designed, implemented, and monitored a project to reduce youth violence by reducing gang and gun violence. The program was quite successful, so this led the National Institute of Justice to work with RAND to see if this might work in Los Angeles. Specifically, the intervention included increased police presences, more stringent enforcement of housing codes for properties used by gang members, more stringent enforcement of parole and probation conditions, and referral of gun violations to federal prosecutors. While the program was somewhat successful when applied to this section of Los Angeles, the report recommends, “city leaders should establish processes to support agencies in such collaborations.” Both a summary of the report and the eBook in its entirety are available for free download. [KMG]

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: