Prison as Cultural Oppression via Psychological Compression: Treatment Implications


Developmental trauma is ubiquitous within incarcerated populations which are also overrepresented by people of color relative to white cultures. The inequality of incarcerating the former cultures enables prisons to therefore become an instrument of cultural oppression. As developmental trauma often becomes expressed as antisocial behaviors within oppressed populations, the effects of trauma can be overlooked. What is also missed are the traumatizing effects of that oppression which is then compounded by incarcerated environments which then compress those effects into more serious psychological sequelae. This presentation will focus on the particular presentations of traumatized inmates with cPTSD and dissociative disorders as well as personality disorders, and the effects that the correctional system has on such people in compressing defenses and behavioral coping skills.


Timed Outline
15 minutes - Prevalence of trauma in prison
45 minutes - Institutional psychological compression
30 minutes - The role of shame in incarceration
45 minutes - Manifestations of complex trauma in offender populations
45 minutes - Treatment and case example

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in October 2020.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives


At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Identify at least two ways prison envirnments apply psychological compression
  • Describe how developmental trauma can lead to antisocial manifestations
  • Identify at least three different ways to address vulnerability within inmates when there is a real risk of peer-oriented predation
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
ISSTD Member cost:
Your Price:
Part of: 

Presenter: Rick Hohfeler, PsyD
Presenter Bio:Dr. Rick Hohfeler is a clinical psychologist who has maintained a private practice in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area for the past 30 years. He has specialized in psychological trauma since 1986 as co-manager of an inpatient program treating survivors of abuse at Rogers Memorial Hospital where he also co-managed an inpatient program treating children and adolescents until 1995. He continues to treat adults, children, and adolescents suffering from disorders associated with severe developmental trauma including a special emphasis on dissociative disorders in private practice, as well as with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. He has provided supervision and consultation to therapists and case managers from a variety of agencies in the Milwaukee area for the past 20 years with consultation affiliations having expanded internationally. Rick is a faculty member of the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he teaches courses in trauma and dissociation. He is a member of ISSTD and was elected to their Board of Directors in 2016. Since 2014 he has acted as moderator for the Virtual Book Club sponsored by ISSTD. He has presented professionally on topics related to trauma and dissociation locally, nationally, and internationally.

Available Credit

  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


ISSTD Member cost:
Your Price:
Please login or register to take this course.

"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
  • ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
  • If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired. 

These prices are for Tier I countries. For a list of countries by Tier click here. If you are located in a country that falls into Tier II-VI please contact ISSTD at to receive the appropriate discount code.