Mothers who murdered their child: an attachment-based study on filicide

BARONE Lavinia, et al
Journal article citation:
Child Abuse and Neglect, 38(9), 2014, pp.1468-1477.

The current study examined whether attachment theory could contribute to identifying risk factors involved in filicide. Participants were 121 women: mothers from the normative population (NPM, n = 61), mothers with mental illness (MIM, n = 37), and filicidal mothers, i.e., mothers who had murdered their child (FM, n = 23). Descriptive variables were collected and the Adult Attachment Interview was used to assess mental representations of attachment relationships using the traditional coding system and the Hostile/Helpless (HH) attachment state of mind coding. Unresolved, Insecure, Entangled, and Helpless representations of attachment relationships were overrepresented in the FM group. When a constellation of descriptive and attachment-based risk factors was taken into account, the HH attachment state of mind was found to contribute significantly to distinguishing between MIM and FM groups. As predicted, when the Bayesian Information Criterion was applied to multinomial regression models, descriptive variables were shown to be less able alone than in association with attachment-based classifications to disentangle the increased risk for committing filicide. (Publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
attachment theory, risk, mothers, homicide, children, child abuse, mental health problems, attachment, parent-child relations;
Content type:
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