Open access peer-reviewed chapter

An Analysis of Emotional and Psychological Issues among Males at the Correctional Institution in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Written By

Nikolaos Stamatakis and Allan C. Burnett

Submitted: 18 June 2020 Reviewed: 31 July 2020 Published: 30 December 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.93526

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Criminology and Post-Mortem Studies - Analyzing Criminal Behaviour and Making Medical Decisions

Edited by Sara Palermo and Raluca Dumache

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Recent findings suggest that emotional instability and psychological disorder rate in prison is three times higher than in the general population. Prisoners – especially males – are also at increased risk of all-cause victimization including violence and self-harm. This research sought to identify and analyze the emotions that incarcerated males at the Correctional Institutions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have had and or were encountering, as well as the manner these emotions were being dealt with. It also sets out to ascertain some of the factors that were playing prominent roles in the lives of incarcerated males regarding those emotions. Up to date, there has been no research work done on males and their emotions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines nor any study regarding inmates in the correctional institution. The administration of a short questionnaire formed the quantitative collection instrument, which provided data from 150 inmates. The data analysis was performed via SPSS, and the findings point to a cross-section of relational factors that are relevant to males and their emotions (namely, abuse, crying, bonds, and suicidal thoughts). It was found that males are struggling emotionally with understanding their identity and are inadvertently pressured to adhere to societal directives by restricting their emotional expression.


  • males
  • prison
  • emotions
  • psychological issues
  • St. Vincent & the Grenadines

1. Introduction

Emotions have attracted a greater level of attention as a critical element of public health in the 21st century. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean and the wider world by extension, displaying emotions by males carries a stigma [1, 2, 3]. Emotions are also regarded as the cornerstones of our social worlds, which affect our interactions with others in varied ways [4]; and as such, this issue has prompted intellectual discussions surrounding the relation between emotions and the male population [5]; a focus that looms high, to the extent that it has become of national interest among health professionals and providers for the last ten years in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

In part, this hype can arguably be associated with the SVG Education Revolution of 2003, which – under the motto “no one left behind” – has opened countless opportunities for the general population to move on academically in every level of the educational system [6]. The influx of students to secondary schools on one hand, and the radical increase of the number of adults in quest of tertiary level studies on the other, unearthed troubling psychologically and emotionally generated behavioral problems to which both genders succumbed [7, 8]. It also surfaced the demand for counselors, career guidance officers, and psychologists, who were called to aid the breakdown of the gender barriers in the expression of feelings among the male population that existed in the Vincentian society for many years and put emotional issues on the front burner.

General social observation in SGV has shown that males who have come to grips with their emotions and are willing to live a life that projects a more liberal way of behaving tend to excel academically, while being less likely to become troublemakers and less prone to having criminal intent. Nowadays, numerous young males have been incarcerated, are abandoning school, have taken to the hills to farm illegal marijuana plants, are seeking comfort in alcoholic beverages, are becoming abusive to their female counterparts, or are admitted to the mental health hospital due to emotional and psychological pressures [9, 10]. This is an escalating occurrence among the male population, while their counterparts (females) are far more willing to show their emotions and are thus, less susceptible to those troubling devices [11, 12, 13]. This is particularly true among males incarcerated in SGV Her Majesty’s Prison, who would immediately take on the look of a “seasoned” criminal exhibit little or no remorse in deep contrast to the general empathy.

This backdrop heightens the need for one’s exploration of men’s attitude towards their emotion. There has been a rationale for the choice of these incarcerated males, who “do” masculinity either as a survival technique and an adaptation to imprisonment [14, 15, 16, 17] or as an emotional response to interpersonal rejection [18, 19]. As in other countries, already captured male populations are often regarded as one of the most vulnerable groups in the Vincentian population [20, 21, 22]. This research springs from the co-opt preamble and delves into the stereotypical and tabooed issue of males and their emotions in the Vincentian setting. The present research endeavors to offer an understanding of the general male ethos where their emotions are concerned. It examines the issue from the perspectives of males who are confined or incarcerated seeking seeks to explore aspects related to the general issue of masculinity and emotions, namely: (a) emotions and abuse, (b) crying in relation to emotions (c) family and friends in relation to emotions and (d) suicidal thoughts and emotions.The main objective of this study is to analyze various factors that are associated with emotional and psychological issues relating to males at the correctional institution in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. More specifically, it sought to analyze the emotions males are encountering and ascertain the factors that lead to the emotions that males struggle with. As a means to achieve this, we firstly aimed at identifying emotional issues inmates are uncomfortable to talk about, and finding out levels of family impact on males’ lives in order to determine the coping strategies that have been used by inmates to deal with their emotional issues.


2. Methodology

This article intents to weave ideas in relation to the emotive reactions of incarcerated males at the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Correctional Institution. The methodological tools utilized for data collection in this mixed-method study were mainly quantitative (questionnaires) combined with field observations. The particular method was not chosen randomly. Quantitative methodologies allow researchers to evaluate within a more controlled context [23]. The questionnaire covered demographics such as age, type of crime, recidivism, and religion [perceived as an emotion regulator [24]], as well as elements and associated factors aligned with the stated hypotheses that highlight males’ emotions and their behaviors. Finally, along with the collected quantitative data, observation was done based on a two-year pro bono service that the researcher carried out at the facilities and during the sample collection period, and anecdotes were noted.This research sought to generate measurable and testable data based on the aims and objectives, acting as a road map for the study, guiding the researcher to predetermined destinations, and thus gradually adding to the accumulation of human knowledge.


3. Research process flow chart

3.1 Hypotheses

To create a finite structure in line with the aims of the present research mentioned earlier, 4 hypotheses were created and embedded in the questionnaire. The hypotheses were:

  1. Male inmates are struggling to deal with their emotions due to past abuse.

  2. Male inmates who refrain from crying feel uncomfortable to talk about their emotional issues.

  3. Family can positively impact the lives of male inmates.

  4. Male inmates have suicidal thoughts irrespective of any disparity between positive and negative emotions.

3.2 The institution

Her Majesty’s Prisons (Kingstown and Belle Isle) is the lone correctional institution in St. Vincent and the Grenadines build in 1872. Colonial in nature, the main structure is situated in the heart of Kingstown, in close proximity to the back of the building that houses the House of Assembly and the High Court. In the same premises, there is a library/classroom and a Chapel that has been converted into living quarters. The total population of the Kingston prison facility in December 17, 2018 stood at 472, accommodating mainly those who are on remand and few already sentenced.

The Belle Isle Correctional Facility became operational in April 2012, when some 226 prisoners were transferred there from the Kingstown holding. This institution is built to house 288 inmates, but it is still under construction. It is home to less than 50% of the present total inmates and mainly houses those already been sentenced. It is a modern prison with a conference room, classrooms, and recreation room offering a variety of programmes which incorporate major activities such as art, anger restrain training, tailoring, culinary art, music, agriculture, and welding skills training. Most of these programmes are facilitated by community members, persons who are not particularly affiliated to the institution. The institution also boasts of a small soccer team which occasionally engages with community teams.

Inmates in both institutions are classified in three categories: Unit A Under 21 years, Unit B First Offenders and Unit C Repeat Offenders. There is a rigid timetable and activities are tailored – breakfast is at 6:30 am; devotion at 8:15 am; lunch is at 11:30 am, recreational activities at 1:00 pm, and total lock down at 5:00 pm. As pertaining to the emotional aspects of inmates, they are served in a professional manner by a psychologist, a counselor, and a welfare officer. Accessible to the institution is also the Mental Health Hospital, which provides contracted consultants and a qualified counselor who visit the institutions once a week to meet with a pre-arranged clientele1.

3.3 Sampling

The inmates at Her Majesty’s Correctional Facilities in Kingstown and Belle Isle served as the sample for the study. An attempt was made in having the entire prison population involved in the data collection process skipping any randomization process; nonetheless, internal developments within the institution itself forced a reversal. Based on the feedback received by the prison administrators, there was always the fear that the support would not be there to complete all 428 inmates at the time. Indeed, half-way through, unforeseen factors, continuous postponements, and resource constrains made it impossible for the prison administration to facilitate my request for the entire prison population to be approached. Unfortunately, there were 7 blocks that were not given the opportunity participate in the research. However, the remaining 3 blocks were randomly selected drawn from an alphabetical labelling system. The stratified randomized sampling (proportional or quota sampling) strategy was adopted. This method of sampling divided the population into strata, and then samples from each stratum were randomly selected. The total number of 150 participants constituted our sample that was collected during the period March–July 2019.Assuming that the entire population could not be reached, this method also allowed for a randomized sampling of the respondents containing minimal systematic bias and therefore being relatively representative of the male population in SVG [25].

3.4 Instrument

The questionnaire was structured in two parts – (I) demographic data and (II) conceptual questions. The latter part was designed to focus on the hypotheses each of which consisted of four questions.

  • Socio-demographic: These questions included continuous variables like age (starting at age 18); length of current sentence (starting at less than 1 year); and recidivism (starting at 1 time, as well as categorical variables such as original household (coded with Nuclear – Single Parent – Extended – Reconstituted – and Sibling); religion (Christian – Muslim – Hindu – Other); and person being closest to (Mother – Father – Sibling – Friend – Nobody). In addition, the variable of type of criminal activity was treated as an open-ended question.

  • Abuse: Six binary abuse variables were constructed; two for each type of trauma: physical, sexual, and emotional. Dealing with negative emotions was measured by pre-determined categories (namely, “Blame others”, “Blame yourself/Self-hate”, “Avoiding what is happening by drinking, smoking”, and “Withdrawing from others”). Feeling comfortable to talk to other males in prison about emotional issues was constructed from the following experiences: “Most males here share the same struggles”, “We are all on the same level”, “As males we are not as tough and aggressive as we often show”, “There is a greater sense of bonding”, and “There are less chances of being labelled a homosexual”. Inmates were also asked to name whether mental health, relationships, sexual issues, money matters, and/or depression currently affect them the most.

  • Crying: Crying data, as a means of emotions’ expression, were collected from two types of questions; one focusing on sharing emotional issues and the other on reasons that prevent you from doing so. The frequency of crying was measured on a 1 to 5 Likert scale (with 1 being Never and 5 Always). The reasons that may discourage male prisoners to share their emotions varied from confidentiality and lack of trust to and feelings of embarrassment and people being too judgemental. The response options for males’ thoughts before talking about their emotions were: “Males are not supposed to talk about their emotions”, “Avoidance of acting like a woman”, “Males more focus on toughness and aggression”, “Self-reliance (a man is independent)”, and “Afraid of being labelled a homosexual”.

  • (Family) bonds: Two close-ended questions dealt with who do male prisoners trust the most and who (in their family) helped them with the emotional issues, when there were such. For both questions, the possible responses were included their mother, their father, their sibling(s), and other (being their uncle/aunt, girlfriend etc). The difficultness of talking about emotions to someone was measured from a 1–5 Likert scale with 1 being Very difficult and 5 being Very Easy. Dealing with their emotions, prisoners chose among the possible answers of “Pray”, “Seek counseling”, “Exercise/sport”, and “Use substances/alcohol”.

  • Suicidal thoughts: The suicidal thoughts data were collected from two question types: one with regard to the frequency of such thoughts and the other focusing on the “gap” between positive and negative emotions experienced by the male inmates. The frequency was calculated with a Likert scale, with 1 being Very difficult, 2 being Difficult, 3 being Neither difficult nor easy, 4 being Easy, and 5 being Very easy. The same scale was also used for the variable/question “How often do you visit a medical doctor?”. Both positive and negative emotions were also measured on a similar Likert scale (1 = Never, 2 = Almost never, 3 = Sometimes, 4 = Almost Always, and 5 = Always).

3.5 Data collection

Permission from the prisons’ authorities was necessary. This process took months to complete and initially, it created many doubts that the prison officials would want to grant such access to conduct the research. Having received permission from the Superintendent of Prisons, a pilot study was carried out few months before the actual administration of the questionnaire. This preliminary study served as a means of refining the final instrument to be used for the survey testing its reliability and validity. The piloting stage also helped in identifying some of the problems that loomed on the horizon, namely the lack of cooperation from some prison officials and the full conceptualization of the content of the questionnaires by some prisoners. Applying the abovementioned sampling techniques, the questionnaires were distributed and collected personally by the researcher on the same day. Amidst many constraints, the collection process initially began to look fruitful. However, there were days visiting the institution realizing that only ten (or no) questionnaires had been completed amidst excuses of being short of staff or that too many other activities are taking place at the same time. Having completed 150 questionnaires after months visiting the institution it was obvious that completing the entire population was an impossible task; and having started collecting the data with that notion in mind, the data collection was ended.

3.6 Data analysis

The statistical software SPSS (v.25) was used for all data analysis. In terms of methodology, I used multiple correspondence and regression analyses in order to describe the pattern of relationship between (categorical and binary) variables. Such analyses were meaningful given that a prior measurement of internal consistency (see2Table 1) provided an overall high-enough3 reliability coefficient (α = .812). Multinomial logistic regressions and tests to assess the associated factors with our dependent variables were also run. These were feasible because, despite the relatively small sample (150), the assumptions about the scale of the variables, their linear – parametric (Pearson’s) and non-parametric (Spearman’s rho and Kendall’s tau-b) – correlations, and homogeneous, normal errors were reasonable. Generally, any related difficulty to discern or recognize possible relevant deviations from assumptions with small samples did not invalidate the test, which remained valid under these assumptions.

Cronbach’s Alpha (α)N of Items

Table 1.

Reliability statistics.


4. Results

4.1 Demographics

The sample of the present study consisted of 150 male inmates whose age varied from 18 to over 56 years old. Slightly more than half (n = 78, 51.9%) of the participants were 26–40 years old while only 6% of the sample (n = 9) where younger than 20 years old. Nineteen (13%) prisoners were either 21–25 or 41–45 years old and 24 (16%) were over 46 years old (Figure 1). Looking at the type of offense that resulted into their incarceration, the most popular crime was burglary/robbery/theft (n = 36, 24%) closely followed by rape (n = 33, 22%) and (attempted) murder / manslaughter (n = 29, 19.3%). A relatively common offense was assault and cause of physical damage committed by 22 males (14.7%). Other types of offense driving unlicensed car, damage of property, and issues related to child maintenance (n = 17, 11.3%) (Figure 2).

Figure 1.

Bar count of age.

Figure 2.

Bar count of type of offense.

Regarding their religious affiliation, the vast majority of the sample (n = 132, 88%), considered themselves to be Christian, followed by those who had no religion (n = 11, 7.3%). Only 3 (2%) males identified themselves as non-Christian, two being Muslim and one in self-search. The length of the sentence they were already given followed the same pattern. 99 inmates (66%) were sentenced with up to 3 years of imprisonment and only 13 (8.7%) were serving sentences longer than 9 years (Figure 3). As far as recidivism is concerned, nearly 40% of the males (n = 57, 38%) admitted that they were incarcerated for the first time and almost all the remaining (n = 81, 54%) had been previously imprisoned 2–5 times (Figure 4).

Figure 3.

Pie chart count of length of current sentence.

Figure 4.

Bar count of times of being in prison.

Focusing on the family background of the prisoners, almost 1/3 of them (n = 51, 34%) were coming from single-parent families, while most of the remaining respondents had grown up in either extended (n = 38, 25.3%) or nuclear (n = 22.7%) family environments. The few remaining males were raised either by their sibling(s) (n = 10, 6.7%) or by a guardian, girlfriend or foster parent (n = 6, 4%). Those results matched the males’ responses pertaining to who is being closest to them. Slightly more than half of the participants were feeling their mother as being closest to them (n = 77, 51.3%) whereas only 7 inmates (4.7%) had the same feelings for their father. Almost 10% of the sample (n = 14) expressed their loneliness replying that there is nobody who is emotionally close to them. Other people identified by the inmates as being the closest to them were their (girl)friends, grandparents, guardians or their therapists (Figure 5).

Figure 5.

Population pyramid count person being closest to by original household.

4.2 Conceptual questions

Hypothesis 1 (confirmed): Male inmates are struggling to deal with their emotions due to past abuse.

Initially, looking at the abuse patterns among the incarcerated males, almost 79.3%4 (n = 119) males admitted of having at least one experience of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse in the past. Among those inmates, 15 (10%) also had strong feelings of abandonment and neglect. More specifically, the majority (n = 81, 54%) of males had suffered an emotional abuse in the past, followed by those who were physically (n = 70, 46.7%) or sexually (n = 46, 30.7%) traumatized. Therefore, it was not a coincidence that the participants were predominantly facing sexual or relationship issues (58.7%, n = 88), while 33 of them (22%) were having depression and other mental health problems. Taking into consideration that almost all males (n = 148, 98.7%) were facing negative emotions, in their effort to deal with them, prisoners gave a wide range of responses. The most common way used to deal with their negative emotions was to withdraw from others and seek isolation (n = 101, 67.3%) or try to avoid what is happening by drinking and smoking (n = 82, 54.7%). The second most popular way males used to face their emotional issues was through blaming either themselves (n = 70, 46.7%) or others (n = 38, 25.3%). Only 1 inmate (0.7%) expressed a positive way in dealing with his problems, which was through religion, and more specifically, by talking to Jesus.

Focusing on the openness and willingness of prisoners to express their emotional issues with others, the vast majority of them were feeling comfortable doing so, but only with their fellow inmates. The main reason was that males in prison share the same emotional struggles (n = 71, 47.3%), and because they are not as tough and aggressive as they often show (n = 86, 57.3%). In fact, males thought that prison creates a great sense of bonding (n = 59, 39.3%), being all on the same (prison) level (n = 69, 46%). Almost 1/3 of respondents also highlighted that having less chances of being labeled a homosexual (n = 54, 36%) makes it easier for them to talk about their emotions.

Based on both parametric and non-parametric correlations, the type of abuse that most participants had suffered was found overall to be significantly correlated with the way they were currently dealing with their negative emotions (p = .000) and whether or not these males were feeling comfortable to talk about their emotional issues to others (p = .000). Looking deeper at those relationships, participants who were struggling to deal with their negative emotions were 9.7 times more likely to blame others (p = .009) and 5.8 times to blame themselves (p = .004) than the minority of prisoners who were not facing any negative emotions. Marginally significant was also the correlation between abuse and avoidance (p = .043), where previously abused inmates were almost 3 times more likely to avoid facing the negative consequences of past experiences than their non-abused counterparts (seeTable 2).

Have you ever been abused?aBStd. ErrorWalddfSig.Exp(B)95% Confidence Interval for Exp(B)
Lower BoundUpper Bound
YesFacing negative emotions−.7091.635.1881.665.492.02012.128
Dealing with negative emotions (ref. cat. is “No”)
Blaming others2.281.8736.8251.0099.7901.76854.216
Blaming yourself1.768.6228.0711.0045.8591.73019.839
Avoiding what is happening1.097.5424.0931.0432.9951.0358.667
Withdrawing from others.397.583.4641.4961.488.4754.664
Talking to Jesus16.0882590.495.0001.9959700534.344.000.b
Feeling comfortable talking to other males about emotional issues (ref. cat. is “No”)
Most males here share the same emotional struggles like you30.7533013.793.0001.99222697154630045.258.000.b
You’re all at the same level (in prison)−.519.591.7711.380.595.1871.895
Males are not as tough and aggressive as they often show they are−.147.541.0741.785.863.2992.492
There is a greater sense of bonding when you share your emotions−1.106.5903.5121.061.331.1041.052
There are less chances of being labeled a homosexual if you share your emotions1.202.6293.6471.0563.327.96911.427
“Soft spot”0c..0....

Table 2.

Parameter estimates.

The reference category is: No.

Floating point overflow occurred while computing this statistic. Its value is therefore set to system missing.

This parameter is set to zero because it is redundant.

Hypothesis 2 (partially confirmed): Male inmates who refrain from crying feel uncomfortable to talk about their emotional issues.

How often do you cry? 1/3 of the prisoners responded that they (almost) never cry (n = 52, 34.4%), while almost half of the sample were doing so occasionally (n = 69, 46%). Only 3 males (2%) admitted of crying on a regular basis as a way of venting off their negative emotions (before their incarceration). Once again, these figures were not surprising as the largest segment of the respondents believed that males are not supposed to show or talk about their emotions (n = 98, 65.3%), as an avoidance of acting like a woman and being labeled a homosexual (n = 94, 62.7%). On the contrary, males should be self-reliant/independent (n = 74, 49.3%) and focused on toughness and aggression (n = 89, 59.3%).

Digging into the reasons why males refrain from sharing their emotions, the main issue that emerged was that of confidentiality and lack of trust (n = 125, 83.3%). Other, equally important issues were about persons being too judgemental (n = 88, 58.7%), and their subsequent feelings of embarrassment (n = 81, 54%). At the same time, the performance of multinomial regressions showed partial correlations between our dependent and independent variables. More specifically, inmates who were radically refraining from crying were more likely to avoid talking about their emotion issues to others believing that males should be more focussed on toughness and aggression than those prisoners who admitted of crying frequently (p = .027). In the same vein, both groups of participants who were almost never (p = .032) or occasionally (p = .020) expressing their emotions through crying were 3 times more likely not to do so for the same reasons of toughness and aggression as expressed by those who were never crying. An additional reason shared by the males who were almost never or almost always crying for not feeling comfortable to talk about their emotions (either to fellow inmates or to individuals outside of prison) was related to inner fears of being labeled as a homosexual (p = .032) or even perceived as acting like a woman (p = .020) (seeTable 3).

How often do you cry?aBStd. ErrorWalddfSig.Exp(B)95% Confidence Interval for Exp(B)
Lower BoundUpper Bound
NeverThinking about certain things before talking about emotions (Ref. cat is “No”)
Males are not supposed to show or talk about their emotions−.0231.394.0001.987.977.06415.014
Avoidance of not acting like a woman−3.8632.2872.8521.091.021.0001.860
Males are more focused on toughness and aggression−3.9271.7704.9211.
Self-reliance (a man is independent)−.1911.457.0171.895.826.04814.352
Afraid of being labeled as a homosexual2.9371.7502.8171.09318.863.611582.486
Prefer being alone.53435.730.0001.9881.7056.580E-314419769202310835500000000000000.000
Almost neverThinking about certain things before talking about emotions (Ref. cat is “No”)
Males are not supposed to show or talk about their emotions2.052.9734.4471.0357.7801.15652.368
Avoidance of not acting like a woman−2.6031.1225.3811.
Males are more focused on toughness and aggression−2.9141.3614.5831.
Self-reliance (a man is independent).078.949.0071.9351.081.1686.942
Afraid of being labeled as a homosexual2.4201.3493.2181.07311.251.799158.362
Prefer being alone3.26729.681.0121.91226.2441.427E-24482708551918159960000000000.000
SometimesThinking about certain things before talking about emotions (Ref. cat is “No”)
Males are not supposed to show or talk about their emotions1.004.9301.1661.2802.728.44116.870
Avoidance of not acting like a woman−1.9791.0713.4161.065.138.0171.127
Males are more focused on toughness and aggression−3.1001.3345.4051.
Self-reliance (a man is independent)−.518.912.3221.570.596.1003.559
Afraid of being labeled as a homosexual2.1181.3302.5351.1118.316.613112.800
Prefer being alone−.80229.545.0011.978.4483.182E-266320155164565928000000000.000
Almost alwaysThinking about certain things before talking about emotions (Ref. cat is “No”)
Males are not supposed to show or talk about their emotions1.9771.0873.3091.0697.223.85860.817
Avoidance of not acting like a woman−2.0451.1912.9511.086.129.0131.334
Males are more focused on toughness and aggression−2.4311.4302.8911.089.088.0051.450
Self-reliance (a man is independent)−.0511.022.0031.960.950.1287.033
Afraid of being labeled as a homosexual3.0141.4024.6241.03220.3671.306317.669
Prefer being alone2.37430.906.0061.93910.7355.287E-262179683110155908300000000000.000

Table 3.

Parameter estimates.

The reference category is: Always.

This parameter is set to zero because it is redundant.

Floating point overflow occurred while computing this statistic. Its value is therefore set to system missing.

Hypothesis 3 (not confirmed): Family can positively impact the lives of male inmates.

Exploring the impact of family on male prisoners, the participants were initially asked to identify who they trust the most. More than half of the sample responded their mother (n = 77, 51.3%). The second most common reply was “nobody” (n = 23, 15.3%), while the remaining responds were mainly scattered among their girlfriend (n = 5, 3.3%), their friends (n = 12, 8%), and eventually their father (n = 9, 6%). In continue, males were asked to mention who has helped them to deal with their emotional problems. Their replies followed to same trend. Again, 34% (n = 51) acknowledged that their mother had done so, but almost 50% of the sample (n = 65) now mentioned that nobody has ever assisted them with their emotional issues.

Before sent to prison or at the beginning of their current sentence, all males operated various ways to deal with their emotions. Few of them (n = 2, 1.4%) were signing and reading, while the majority (n = 81, 54%) sought help from God through praying, and others from psychologists though counseling (n = 65, 43.3%). 66 people (44%) also found exercising or playing a sport helpful in dealing with emotions, while a good number of them (n = 58, 38.7%) used to smoke, drink, and use drugs. Overall, males found it (very) difficult to talk about their emotions (n = 90, 60%) and just 19 (12.7%) of them thought it was (very) easy.

Looking at the possible impact of other people on the inmates’ incapacity or unwillingness to share their emotions, no statistical significant correlation was given; hence, hypothesis 3 was not confirmed. As Table 4 shows below, neither family (both nuclear and extended) nor other members from prisoners’ social environment [eg. (girl)friends, therapist] seemed to influence, positively or negatively, the obstacles that males were facing in talking about their emotions to someone (average p = .913). Similarly, it was found that talking about emotions to other people was an insignificantly correlated factor in dealing with emotional issues (average p = .992).

Talking about emotions is…aBStd. ErrorWalddfSig.Exp(B)95% Confidence Interval for Exp(B)
Lower BoundUpper Bound
Very difficultTrusting the most
Helped you to deal with emotional issues
Esteemed person.000681.576.00011.0001.000.000.c
DifficultTrusting the most
Helped you to deal with emotional issues
Esteemed person.000657.012.00011.0001.000.000.c
Neither difficult nor easyTrusting the most
Helped you to deal with emotional issues
Esteemed person5.268681.432.0001.994194.075.000.c
EasyTrusting the most
Helped you to deal with emotional issues
Esteemed person−12.101625.847.0001.9855.554E-6.000.c

Table 4.

Parameter estimates.

The reference category is: Very easy

This parameter is set to zero because it is redundant.

Floating point overflow occurred while computing this statistic. Its value is therefore set to system missing.

Hypothesis 4 (confirmed): Male inmates have suicidal thoughts irrespective of any disparity between positive and negative emotions.

Seeking to measure the frequency of suicidal thoughts among the male inmates, a Likert scale question was added. The responses showed that a relatively high proportion of the sample (n = 68, 45.3%) were thinking of committing suicide occasionally (“Sometimes”), and the second highest proportion was these who never had such thoughts (n = 31, 20.7%). Almost the same percentage of people responded that they “Almost always” (n = 21, 14%) or “Almost never” (n = 21, 14%) have suicidal thoughts and only 4.7% (n = 7) have them on regular basis (“Always”). While in prison, males had the opportunity to visit a medical doctor or a psychologist, when needed. Some of them (n = 57, 38%) were finding the access to their service (very) easy, while for others (n = 55, 36.7%) was (very) difficult.

Moving from the descriptive statistics to multivariate regressions as an attempt to provide answers to our research questions, the data analysis as shown in Table 5 confirms the initial hypothesis. Male inmates were, indeed, having suicidal thoughts irrespective of the similar frequency of positive or negative emotions they were experiencing. In other words, the frequent thoughts or intentions of male inmates in SVG to commit suicide were not related to the equally frequent positive (eg. joy, hope, kindness) or negative (eg. loneliness, depression, fear) they may have been experiencing.

Having suicidal thoughtsaBStd. ErrorWalddfSig.Exp(B)95% Confidence Interval for Exp(B)
Lower BoundUpper Bound
NeverNever experiencing …
Worry (−)38.26542131.091.0001.99941512528905990320.000.000.b
Loneliness (−)−5.13937807.382.00011.000.006.000.b
Anger (−)−17.88279534.322.00011.0001.713E-8.000.b
Depression (−)−14.20582741.329.00011.0006.777E-7.000.b
Rejection (−)24.9219436.227.0001.99866533189065.058.000.b
Frustration (−)30.95824413.461.0001.99927847338461359.742.000.b
Jealousy (−)21.97145327.033.00011.0003483997796.992.000.b
Shame (−)43.90815195.137.0001.99811719077213841310000.000.000.b
Fear (−)−3.60144078.805.00011.000.027.000.b
Sadness (−)−32.82820159.582.0001.9995.531E-15.000.b
Joy (+)44.62936308.886.0001.99924096244549266317000.000.000.b
Forgiveness (+)29.35745828.959.0001.9995618462657828.428.000.b
Love (+)28.42968809.244.00011.0002221343412505.831.000.b
Thankfulness (+)−46.38933238.126.0001.9997.139E-21.000.b
Pride (+)51.39824718.421.0001.99820974296918467923000000.000.000.b
Gladness (+)−72.39250294.937.0001.9993.635E-32.000.b
Inspiration (+)−55.49285436.525.0001.9997.948E-25.000.b
Hope (+)11.82763358.506.00011.000136961.278.000.b
Kindness (+)31.787.000.1.63787421138352.16063787421138352.16063787421138352.160
Warmth (+)8.409.000.1.4485.3334485.3334485.333
Almost neverAlmost never experiencing…
Worry (−)17.33762730.027.00011.00033830667.954.000.b
Loneliness (−)−9.71134034.477.00011.0006.059E-5.000.b
Anger (−)−1.92419347.725.00011.000.146.000.b
Depression (−)9.81823029.240.00011.00018363.795.000.b
Rejection (−)8.15834567.475.00011.0003489.671.000.b
Frustration (−)13.96416139.542.0001.9991160449.712.000.b
Jealousy (−)22.53332665.601.0001.9996105775901.719.000.b
Shame (−)35.52146428.161.0001.9992670030769720042.500.000.b
Fear (−)35.52146428.161.0001.9992670030769720042.500.000.b
Sadness (−)17.60842357.809.00011.00044381092.351.000.b
Joy (+)1.40263332.243.00011.0004.064.000.b
Forgiveness (+)−1.44057396.565.00011.000.237.000.b
Love (+).31316938.360.00011.0001.367.000.b
Thankfulness (+)−3.64633406.056.00011.000.026.000.b
Pride (+)−4.30032548.244.00011.000.014.000.b
Gladness (+)−21.41032410.214.0001.9995.030E-10.000.b
Inspiration (+)−15.59953537.876.00011.0001.681E-7.000.b
Hope (+)−4.27712318.961.00011.000.014.000.b
Kindness (+)21.44622120.485.0001.9992059283298.525.000.b
Warmth (+)−14.9308827.409.0001.9993.280E-7.000.b
SometimesSometimes experiencing…
Worry (−)25.75621842.662.0001.999153345818008.820.000.b
Loneliness (−)−7.62723144.438.00011.000.000.000.b
Anger (−)−7.81420611.045.00011.000.000.000.b
Depression (−)10.88019572.240.00011.00053084.629.000.b
Rejection (−)2.38614377.750.00011.00010.866.000.b
Frustration (−)23.4516961.863.0001.99715305137329.349.000.b
Jealousy (−)21.02335452.621.00011.0001350132117.246.000.b
Shame (−)46.34919147.919.0001.998134687881868218000000.000.000.b
Fear (−).46417216.104.00011.0001.591.000.b
Sadness (−)3.03113855.955.00011.00020.726.000.b
Joy (+)−.48019549.724.00011.000.619.000.b
Forgiveness (+)7.45524432.265.00011.0001729.107.000.b
Love (+)1.23926718.325.00011.0003.452.000.b
Thankfulness (+)9.0557536.983.0001.9998560.522.000.b
Pride (+)1.83710838.583.00011.0006.278.000.b
Gladness (+)−33.51928558.496.0001.9992.772E-15.000.b
Inspiration (+)−8.21143149.464.00011.000.000.000.b
Hope (+)−5.63411332.098.00011.000.004.000.b
Kindness (+)12.634.000.1.306728.293306728.293306728.293
Warmth (+)−16.876.
Almost alwaysAlmost always experiencing…
Worry (−)20.50617453.044.0001.999804770902.727.000.b
Loneliness (−)−1.59217924.925.00011.000.203.000.b
Anger (−)−2.58117950.704.00011.000.076.000.b
Depression (−)13.61623382.990.00011.000819226.292.000.b
Rejection (−)3.5836386.837.00011.00035.979.000.b
Frustration (−)18.65314439.424.0001.999126090251.289.000.b
Jealousy (−)14.80829716.579.00011.0002699157.783.000.b
Shame (−)45.46621327.045.0001.99855691661855071380000.000.000.b
Fear (−)5.59514237.673.00011.000269.191.000.b
Sadness (−)1.51024004.762.00011.0004.529.000.b
Joy (+).1099914.736.00011.0001.115.000.b
Forgiveness (+)5.22212493.560.00011.000185.332.000.b
Love (+)−3.49715974.687.00011.000.030.000.b
Thankfulness (+)7.4212682.184.0001.9981671.232.000.b
Pride (+)−4.5437817.173.00011.000.011.000.b
Gladness (+)−33.64916456.088.0001.9982.436E-15.000.b
Inspiration (+)−16.02138348.256.00011.0001.102E-7.000.b
Hope (+)−7.1836199.960.0001.999.001.000.b
Kindness (+)19.455.000.1.281332174.318281332174.318281332174.318
Warmth (+)−6.874.000.1..001.001.001

Table 5.

Parameter estimates.

The reference category is: Always.

Floating point overflow occurred while computing this statistic. Its value is therefore set to system missing.

This parameter is set to zero because it is redundant.


5. Limitations

No empirical research is free of limitations; henceforth, such limitations should be acknowledged prior to any conceptualization of our hypotheses. Initially, it should be noted thatSt. Vincent and the Grenadines – as any given society or nation – has social norms and moral values that might be different or conflicting in another social sphere. It may be possible that some commonality still exists among institutionalized males or even among different nations within the Caribbean region. Though, these elements are not sufficient to ignore the issue of representativeness. Keeping in mind the exceptionally high percentage of the particular men who had experienced emotional and psychological distress in their lives linked to prevalent standards of manliness or masculinity taboos, as well as the regional cultural and ethnical diversity, it would have been scientifically imprecise to claim that the results are generalizable and that the present sample represents an area larger than SVG. In addition, given the relatively small – but randomized – size of the sample and population as well as the nature of the questions, conclusions were drawn with extreme caution. Due to conceptual and structural limitations related to constraints on generalizability, this study could not test complex theoretical models from the existing literature; yet, it helped us formulate more specific hypotheses for more definite future investigation.


6. Discussion and conclusions

Research evidence consistently shows high rates of unresolved issues among incarcerated samples. Our study provided evidence that emotional problems among incarcerated men in SVG is associated with a wide range of relational issues such as refrain from crying, suppression of feelings, lack of strong family bonds, and exposure to past abuse. Although, many respondents had the idea of ending their lives, the intensity of such thoughts varied greatly. There was no clear demarcation between those who embrace positive emotions and those who experience a weaker pull in that direction and vice-versa. Inmates having strong positive emotions also displayed a propensity for negative emotions falling the “sometimes” vacuum. Based on the inmates’ responses, it was feasible to make a definitive statement that inmates find it hard to deal with their negative emotions due to past abuse. There is ample indication to show that sharing or dealing with negative emotions is very difficult for all inmates, either they had suffered an abuse or not. Due to intervening factors, with culture being the main one, crying accounted for one of the reasons why inmates may feel uncomfortable to talk about issues of emotional nature. By observation, those persons who were able to pick the issues that bothered them the most and talk about them were also not afraid of crying.

Historically, research attention has focused on the emotional and psychological needs or problems of incarcerated women (e.g. [26, 27, 28, 29, 30]), not those of men. This study findings call for further action; action to screen for and treat emotion-related traumas among incarcerated men. Treatment for emotional problems and their consequences inside correctional settings is pivotal; especially for incarcerated men – a largely neglected but serially traumatized population [31, 32]. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a programme whose focus is to address the issue of recidivism, mental health and to overcome behavioral issues, helping inmates to regulate their emotions, develop social skills, and address thinking that can lead to violence and criminality, such as aggressive or antisocial behavior has just gotten under way. The more obvious understanding to stereotypical behaviors is that the society has predetermined the course of males’ emotional reactions. A conceptual “mold” has been created, which has gathered widespread acceptability. As Way [33] argues, the solution lies with exposing the inaccuracies of our gender stereotypes in which human needs and capabilities are given a sex and sexuality. The issue of males being able to reveal their emotions will remain a stigmatized issue unless academics and practitioners are willing to make the issue an urgent one.

In the meantime, helping men to work their way out of the dilemma of having to succumb to “suck it up”, “man it up”, “stop acting like a baby”, “men don’t cry” and other derogative emotive clichés that men have grown to hear and feel and have unwillingly accepted as their mantra, should be society’s target. A viable solution might be recommending a shift in the outdated perception of “Man is Invincible” to “Man is Human Being” adapting the view that behavior that is shadowed by an unhealed wound as not being a gender specific issue, but more a human being issue. Man does not need more shame or stigmas attached to him, for that will certainly work to his disadvantage.

Family environment could play a viable role in desisting such shaming and stigmatization processes. Respondents put high premium on family and family values, as their deep sense of neglect and the limited interaction with their family members acted as a springboard to their delinquency. They were able to talk about how their families’ aloofness and lack of caring created an emotional void inside them. A noticeable absence of family members’ contribution to relationship building is that of the fathers’. Fathers played little or no role in the lives of the respondents. Generally, fathers have played a limited role in the lives of most Caribbean males, due to the high single parent household that are featured [34]. The extent to which this affect males when dealing with situations that warrant much display of strong emotions is relatively unknown.


7. Future directions

We should also have a deeper look into the extent, complexity, and motives of those 120 male inmates who admitted of having some form of suicidal ideation in the past. Given the raising numbers of incarcerated men in SVG and the strength of these associations, targeted intervention is critical. To put this issue in context, the changing of our the local society’s beliefs about males social and emotional capacities would never happen overnight, but invariably rely on the combined skills of educators and parents to help cultivate the inert capacities males possess [35]. This study also unearthed stimulating information for more in-depth research. It allowed for the collection of information regarding imprisoned males and their emotions revealing the various components of those motions and their possible inter-relationships. In the meanwhile, it is anticipated that the present study would contribute in fostering a research culture in prisons and at the same time stimulate individuals to address the pressing issues of health and wellness among the male population in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.


Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Ethical Compliance


Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual adult participants included in the study.


The authors have no funding to disclose.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.



cruel and violent treatment of a person

Psychological issues

psychological dysfunction in an individual that is associated with distress or impairment and a reaction that is not culturally expected.


strong feelings deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.


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  • The information provided here was personally gathered as the official government portal (see includes only some basic contacts.
  • Cronbach’s alpha (α) is a measure of internal consistency, that is, how closely related a set of items are as a group. It is considered to be a measure of scale reliability. Technically speaking, Cronbach’s alpha is not a statistical test – it is a coefficient of reliability (or consistency).
  • A reliability coefficient of .70 or higher is considered “acceptable” in most social science research situations.
  • Bearing in mind that participants had to opportunity to choose more than 1 reply, the figures presented here represent the Valid Percentages.

Written By

Nikolaos Stamatakis and Allan C. Burnett

Submitted: 18 June 2020 Reviewed: 31 July 2020 Published: 30 December 2020