Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

I am a huge tennis fan and deeply disappointed in the lack of exciting American men on the tennis singles front. In the Wimbledon finals tomorrow, I will be routing for Nadal but where is the next McEnroe or Sampras? Since the Americans aren’t contenders, I’m probably switching to the Casey Anthony trial which, yes, is having closing arguments on a Sunday of a holiday weekend! What a bizarre case! I ‘m only sort of following it  because my 90 year old father was here for a month and watched the coverage every day. Evenings were spend processing the trial–who is the child’s real father, did the grandfather cover up the death, why would Casey party like a rock star when her child was missing….you get the drift!

So curiosity got the best of me and I decided to take a look at why mothers would kill their children. Here is what I found:

Psychiatrist Susan Friedman at the University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western identified five motives that might lead a mom to kill her child:

1) Maltreatment or chronic abuse
2) Mental illness that includes thoughts that killing a child is a type of mercy killing; the child is better off in heaven so killing is a deed of love
3) The child is unwanted
4) The mom is psychotic
5) The “Medea syndrome” -a parent kills the child as revenge against a partner.

Moms who kill their offspring may think they themselves need to be punished, or the children must be eliminated to preserve a relationship. Geoffrey McKee, a forensic psychologist who has studied homicidal mothers, adds to the above list:

1) Detached moms who may suffer from postpartum depression or fail to bond with their infants
2) Abusive and neglectful moms who act out rage and fail to meet their babies needs.

Michelle Oberman and Cheryl Meyer, coauthors of the book, Mothers Who Kill Children, agree that mental illness accounts for the majority of mother-child killings—depression, post partum depression, and other mental health afflictions but notes that the category of mothers who kill children is not homogenous. For example, the teen who kills her newborn baby may be motivated differently than the mom who drove herself and her children into the river to drown.  The authors also discuss common social factors such as isolation, a spilt with the father of the children, and lack of emotional support. A study in the Journal of the National Medical Association (Vol 95, No. 1, 2003) noted a high frequency of substance abuse and intellectual impairment among parents who kill their children.

At this point, we don’t  know if Casey Anthony  murdered her child and we may never know the full story. But following the case and looking at why a mom would do such a thing leaves you with chills. Come to think of it, maybe it would be better to watch the Wimbledon final, with or without an American man!

Or maybe the best thing to do is go to church like I always do and pray for this family. A child is dead and that is so sad. Perhaps somewhere in the middle of all this media frenzy, a revelation of our desperate need for God would be evident.

 

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