A Meta-Synthesis of Filicide Classification Systems: Psychosocial and Psychodynamic Issues in Women Who Kill Their Children

Marie E. Mugavin


J Foren Nurs. 2005;1(2):65-72. 

In This Article


Because human beings are complex by nature, no filicide classification system is likely to be complete. While many questions remain unanswered, stories of mothers taking their children's lives remain resident in the media. It seems that in spite of efforts made to classify the motives or impulses of these mothers, something very important is being missed. As indicated, prevention should involve the use of a multidisciplinary approach in considering the multiple causes of - and solutions to - filicide. Efforts need to be made toward uniformity in a single classification system and should include input from varying paradigms including anthropology, nursing, sociology, and psychiatry to name a few.

Although subjectivity is an issue in any human endeavor, the formation of a multidisciplinary committee would provide the inter-rater reliability, member checks, and triangulation necessary to lend validity to its efforts. Much fine work has been done to tease out motives and preventive measures related to filicide. The author appreciates the work of those who have built the foundation upon which this paper was based. However, on a grander scale, one cannot help but wonder if the persistence of this issue is not reflective of an overall societal malaise against which providers must continue to battle in an effort to save lives of innocent children.


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