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Psychopathic 'shottas' - 21 per cent of MPs contribute to creation of nation of killers, says political psychologist

Published:Monday | December 19, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Horrific criminal experiences that many children encounter have created a cycle of psychopathic behaviours among that age group, which has resulted in many becoming some of Jamaica's most wanted 'shottas'.

That was the conclusion of a recent study done by Dr Christopher Charles, senior lecturer in political psychology at the University of the West Indies, Mona, which noted that the shooters' environmental experiences lead to the development of psychopathic personalities, resulting in their deadly actions.

Psychopathy, sometimes used synonymously with sociopathy, is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterised by persistent antisocial behaviour; impaired empathy and remorse; and bold, disinhibited, egotistical traits.

According to Charles, the study measured psychopathy among a cohort of shooters from two violent garrison communities in Jamaica to understand the psychological characteristics of these killers who drive the country's high homicide rate and undermine democracy.

He said the hypothesis was confirmed because the results showed a positive relationship between psychopathy and being a shooter.

The shooter's psychopathic personality traits (affective response, cognitive responsiveness, interpersonal manipulation, and egocentricity) interacted with their adverse social experiences in the violent garrison constituencies, employment being a major issue.

"The psychopathic shooters join the community gangs for a range of benefits. Gang membership provides income because the dons recruit and employ youth to become shooters who work in their violent transnational criminal networks," Charles noted in the study.


"The gang also becomes a surrogate family to those shooters who grow up in dysfunctional families that are unsupportive, uncaring, do not set pro-social boundaries, and legitimise the use of violence. The gangs also meet the social-identity needs of adolescent and young adult males who join for a sense of belonging. Therefore, becoming a gang member is an important part of their sense of self that gives meaning and coherence to their lives," Charles continued.

He added: "Recreation is also an attraction because the gangs are friendship networks that provide opportunities for going out together; having conversations; and playing sports such as football, cricket, and basketball. There is also the important issue of security, where gang membership provides protection because rival gang members attacking one or more members of the gang are met with murderous retaliatory violence."

The lecturer also said that politicians have played a major role in this vicious cycle, which has created a nation of killers.

"Some 21 per cent of Jamaica's MPs (members of parliament) contribute to the murderous environment of garrison constituencies because they represent and benefit electorally from the undemocratic politics practised in these communities," he said.

"Therefore, these legislators provide tacit support for gang-based psychopaths in Jamaica. The country's high homicide rate has nothing to do with the enslavement of Africans during British colonialism," he continued.

"These homicides are the result of the interaction of psychopathy with the adverse environment created by the politics of underdevelopment led by the political elite and their political alliance with criminal gangs to gain electoral advantage. This alliance, over many decades, laid the foundation for the creation of killers."