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The 8 psychopathological effects of indigence

The 8 psychopathological effects of indigence

September 19, 2023

When people think of a vulnerable group, they come to mind the elderly, migrants, people with mental illness, LGBT community, etc. They are the most well-known collectives and also those with the most support networks. But What about the destitute? The fact that there are people without a home and without money to cover the basic basket is a big social problem at an international level, although some countries have managed it better than others.

This group has different vulnerabilities, and unfortunately the biggest one is invisibility. There are investigations of the subject but from the negative perspective of the impact they have in the country, but not of the psychological consequences of not having a roof to be part of the indigence , neither of the health risks that they have, nor of their high probability of developing some mental disorder. We will talk briefly in the next lines.

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Causes of indigence

The main causes of indigence can be divided into two groups: personal and social, although both are related and ultimately the determinants are the social ones, while the personal ones are related to the risk of falling into indigence in statistical terms.


On the one hand, we have the neurobiological determinants: propensity to psychopathologies and that these are not treated properly , and also anxiety and high levels of stress in individuals without support networks. For the other, the traumatic experiences , experiences of childhood, sexual or physical abuse, conflicts or intrafamily violence, substance abuse, increase the risk of falling into this situation.


Social exclusion due to belonging to a minority group, vulnerable, or discriminated by race, religion, preferences, is a factor very linked to indigence. On the other hand, the economy is also very relevant: living with low income, instability, and poor family planning because of the scarcity of resources.

While they are not the only elements that contribute to a person becoming destitute , are risk factors that if you do not have adequate support networks or the necessary treatment for certain diseases or psychopathologies, you can end up in this situation.

The psychological impact of homelessness

As a vulnerable group, it is composed of people who belong to other ways of classifying the members of society: elderly people, people with problems of alcoholism or drug addiction, immigrants, people with disabilities (both physical and intellectual), among others. . The main vulnerabilities , which at the same time become consequences of this social phenomenon, are the following.

1. Invisibility

Most of society does not show interest in the destitute in most countries. They are seen, but not taken into account.

2. Propensity to present symptoms or develop mental illness

The fact of not having a roof alters their mental abilities, to the point of developing pathologies. The most common within this group are depression and schizophrenia , in addition to alcoholism.

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3. Propensity to contract a disease

The indigents are exposed to any virus or bacteria and at extreme temperatures without the possibility of preventing diseases due to these agents or situations.

4. High risk of imprisonment

The fact of not having a roof causes the indigents to be at risk of being apprehended by police forces when carrying out all its activities in public areas, some of which are prohibited.

5. Propensity to use and abuse of substances

Having no money for a decent meal , many choose to consume toxic substances to remain without hunger or in a state of "well-being" although the situation demands the opposite.

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6. Unemployment and limited opportunities to get one

The window of opportunity to get a job is drastically reduced.

7. Lack of formal education and school absenteeism

That the parents are in a street situation, is related to a situation of vulnerability of their children , for lack of access to a formal education.

8. Risk of accidents and premature death

The fact of being exposed to diseases, makes your chances of premature death increase. Furthermore, not being protected, having no sense of orientation, being drunk, drugged or having any mental illness rises the risk of having an accident.

What can be done to help these people?

The work of psychologists, social workers and interested people is really to reach this group, detect needs, propose strategies and implement action plans that they can return to a decent life, get a job and, in case of having any illness, be it physical or mental, they can be treated. The fact that a person is in a street situation does not mean that they have to change their status before society; He still has the same rights, and can lead a dignified life with all that this implies.

Psychological Disorders: Crash Course Psychology #28 (September 2023).

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