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Maternal Filicide: Grounded Theorising from Interviews with mothers with a diagnosis of mental illness

Holloway, Geraldine (2016) Maternal Filicide: Grounded Theorising from Interviews with mothers with a diagnosis of mental illness. Other thesis, University of Essex.


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Background: Child homicide represents 11.5% of all homicides and parents are perpetrators in about 67% of all cases. Of parents who kill their children fathers have been found to more often be the perpetrator (filicide) in all age groups except in neonaticides, where mothers are nearly always responsible. Women have been found to be over-represented in rates of filicide. Diagnoses of mental illness (MI) have been found as a moderating variable for mothers who kill older children. The aim of the present study was to explore the conditions, processes and contexts that contribute to the development of maternal filicide (MF) in MI mothers. Method: Four mothers with a diagnosis of MI were interviewed using constructivist grounded theory methods to produce theorising about the development of MF. Due to the sensitivity of the research topic, the vulnerability of the population and the need to ensure support for study participants, the study design included only those mothers still receiving care from secure hospital services (N=30). Findings: The present study produced grounded theorising of a process of Disintegrating Security in a number of sequentially related domains: social, economic, relational and psychological as contributing to MF. Consistent with other research on filicide mothers with a diagnosis of MI, mothers were active in caring for their children but became hopeless and suicidal, believing that their own suicide would leave their children alone in a cruel and dangerous world. Conclusions: Mothers committed filicide in a perverse act of maternal love rather than out of anger, or as part of prolonged child abuse. A detailed account of the development of MF in MI mothers has been produced. The findings could be important to increase the understanding of MF for mental health professionals working with filicide mothers, surviving family members and mothers themselves.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Health and Social Care, School of
Depositing User: Dr Geraldine Holloway
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2016 11:16
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2017 01:00

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