Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master Of Arts In Clinical Psychology

Colleges & School

College Of Arts And Sciences

First Advisor

Lela Joscelyn, PhD

Library of Congress Subject Heading

African American men; African American criminals; Breathing exercises


African Americans have a history of profound trauma in America. More specifically, the African American man’s trauma has been marginalized, not only in his own cultural context, but within the patriarchal constructs of dominant culture. This, coupled with institutional racism, has allowed African American men to become a target of the criminal justice system. To date, African American men have staggering rates of incarceration and lead all ethnic groups in recidivism. While African American males comprise 6.5 percent of the U.S. population, as a whole, they comprise 40 percent of the incarcerated prison system (Mauer, 1999; Alexander, 2010). Tie in experiences of the intergenerational trauma of slavery with the social constructs of male identity and the African American male felon’s concerns are institutionally marginalized and made invisible (Alexander, 2010; Leary, 2005; Anderson, 2008). The vast majority of youth in this study have backgrounds rooted in areas of systemic poverty and have faced various degrees of trauma throughout their life. It is this researcher’s hypothesis that breathwork offers a way for African American felons to manage emotions, feel empowered, have ownership of their lives, and contribute constructively to their families and communities. This nonverbal therapeutic technique consists of deep and rapid breathing to facilitate the process of healing psychic trauma rooted outside conscious awareness. This study seeks to answer the question: Can breathwork aid African American male felons to manage emotions, feel a sense of control over institutional racism, effects of incarceration, and poverty after being incarcerated? Analysis of the data will include basic demographic information, and the following instruments: Holmes Rahe Life Event Scale (Colbert, 2003), Zung Self Rating Depression Scale (Colbert, 2003), NOVACO Anger Inventory (Colbert, 2003) (short form). The researcher will use a one-tailed t-test to analyze the data.


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