I've seen many of these episodes, but nowhere near all of them, 31 hours worth of the documentary series from The History Channel, Gangland.
From a Self Psychology perspective, these young men are seriously wounded (developmentally) and are acting out their narcissistic rage to prevent themselves from feeling the pain of their wounding. Here is how Heinz Kohut viewed it (from Wikipedia):
Such narcissistic rage "cannot progress to self-assertiveness because it is the self structure that is enfeebled and vulnerable." Weakness in the self structure leads to the "development of anarcissistic vulnerability: increased sensitivity to disappointments and extreme difficulty in dealing with real or imagined slights and failures. Narcissistic injury follows such experiences and culminates in narcissistic rage."And . . . .
Kohut's explanation of narcissistic rage and depression stated, "depressions are interrupted by rages because things are not going their way, because responses are not forthcoming in the way they expected and needed." He went further to say that narcissists may even search for conflict to find a way to alleviate pain or suffering in his book The Analysis of the Self.
Narcissistic rage is related to narcissist's need for total control of their environment; according to Kohut includes "the need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means". It is an attempt by the narcissist to turn from a passive sense of victimization to an active role in giving pain to others, while at the same time attempting to rebuild their own (actually false) sense of self-worth. It may also involve self-protection and preservation, with rage serving to restore a sense of safety and power by destroying that which had threatened the narcissist.
Alternatively, according to Kohut, rages can be seen as a result of the shame at being faced with failure. Narcissistic rage is the uncontrollable and unexpected anger that results from a narcissistic injury - a threat to a narcissist's self-esteem or worth. Rage comes in many forms, but all pertain to the same important thing, revenge. Narcissistic rages are based on fear and will endure even after the threat is gone.
To the narcissist, the rage is directed towards the person that they feel has slighted them; to other people, the rage is incoherent and unjust. This rage impairs their cognition, therefore impairing theirjudgment. During the rage they are prone to shouting, fact distortion and making groundless accusations.
Imagine how different these boys'/men's lives would be if someone recognized the horrible wounding and fear/shame that causes them to act out this way? How many fewer men might we have in prison as a result of their gang activities if they found what they needed earlier and never had to join a gang? How many more boys would grow up with fathers is their fathers were not in prison? Or dead?
Gangland is a gritty, true-life documentary series exposing the world of history’s most notorious and dangerous gangs.The Gangland series tells the insider story and we learn how the gangs shaped their times and affected the neighborhoods that they controlled.From the destruction wrought by the heroin kingpins in Harlem of the 1970s to today’s most dangerous gang MS-13, which has spread out from the inner city to infect unexpected turf – suburban communities-gangs have a rich yet deadly history.They usually start out as a form of protection for their members and community but then grow predatory as they feed on the very people that they purport to defend.With exclusive interviews and rarely seen footage, this is a raw look at life inside these gangs-from those who live it and the agencies that are working to stop them.Watch the full documentary now (playlist – 31 hours)