The psychological effects of imprisonment: what goes on in the minds of inmates?

Being imprisoned and deprived of liberty it has important psychological consequences. These can develop a chain of affective, cognitive, emotional and perceptual reactions and distortions, all caused by emotional tensions in the prison environment. In addition, a capacity for adaptation and resilience is required to withstand the stripping of familiar and clean external symbols.

In this article we will see what are the psychological effects of imprisonment, And how this situation affects the minds of inmates.

    The prison

    There is a variable called imprisonment who intervenes in the conduct of detainees. It is the process by which a person unconsciously assumes the code of conduct and the values ​​of the prison subculture as an effect of being in direct contact with him.

    A differentiation can be made between a superficial prisionalización, that is to say the minimum necessary so that a person can adapt to the atmosphere of the prison, and a deep one, which would already be an institutionalization. This happens when the acquired behaviors and ideas go beyond the individuality of the inmate.

    On the other hand, there are factors that determine the degree of imprisonment of individuals:

    • personality: Speaking of maturity, emotional intelligence, intellectual capacity, stability, etc.
    • Set of external circumstances around the person: frequency of re-entry, length of stay, types of offenses and family and personal expectations.
    • Age and cultural level: Understood as personal experiences, knowledge and skills respectively. The more experience, knowledge and skills you have, the easier it is to adapt.

    Types of criminals

    Another classification on the extent to which imprisonment affects has to do with the type of offender to which he belongs:

    1. Principal offender

    It’s his first time in prison, Maintains prosocial behavior and refuses to adhere to the prison code. Imprisonment has a big impact.

    2. Occasional offender

    It is an individual who he has no trouble living under the rules of society, But as soon as the opportunity is given, he commits a crime. He usually tries to downplay the act and justify it.

    3. Regular offender

    Crime is like your lifestyle; they consider illegal activities to give them more satisfaction than legal activities. They already know the prison rules perfectly.

    One could say that the longer the stay in prison, the higher the degree of imprisonment. While this may be true, it is also influenced by the fact that the inmate knows that he will soon be released from prison and reintegrated into society. So you can start to recover forgotten or unapplied values ​​and attitudes inside the prison, prepare for reintegration and get your life back.

    The psychological effects of being in prison

    Now let’s move on to the psychological effects of inmates:

    1. Anxiety

    The level at which this occurs depends on the circumstances in which the imprisonment occurs and on the personality of the subject himself. They face the unknown.

    2. Depersonalization

    Loss of individuality. The fact that by entering prison, he is assigned a number, his person is demoted. He is also part of a group rejected by society.

      3. Loss of confidentiality

      It arises from the forced coexistence with other prisoners. They have little or no time to focus on themselves. This is aggravated when the atmosphere is violent and their safety is at stake.

      4. Low self-esteem

      It is given for not meeting one’s own expectations or for defrauding one’s self-image, and for being imprisoned. However, there are many more, self-esteem is not negatively affected, How satisfied they feel to lead a criminal life.

        5. Lack of control over their own life

        It occurs because of a certain inability to make personal, family or social decisions; yes, there may be room for decision, but the range of options is not wide. What is most limited is the mastery of the interior in the face of the evolution of external events. This situation causes frustration.

        6. Lack of expectations

        there is few expectations in the life of the inmate beyond his desire for freedom. People are conditioned by one recurring idea: all wasted time and the fastest way to get it back.

        7. Sexuality changes

        There can be frustrations of not having the usual sexual routinesMalfunctions can arise and the normal development of good practice can be blocked.

        The need to understand the inmate

        An analysis of the personal history and the vital circumstances which led the person to commit a crime is necessary in order to give him an optimal therapeutic approach which takes into account all aspects of his personality. This can directly fulfill the purpose of the prison: 1 rehabilitation of deficiencies or lost values and subsequent positive reintegration into society.

        It is essential that there is a quality intervention of professionals, in particular psychologists, to promote their social reintegration. The prison environment can have a considerable impact on prisoners and it is important that before their release they regain their positive essence, rebuild their values ​​and reconnect with themselves.

        It is not enough to make general propositions to solve the problem, you have to have an individual plan with each because they have different personalities and needs. Even though they are criminals, they are still human beings.

        Leave a Comment