Skip to main content
Intended for healthcare professionals


This article offers observations regarding some of the major manifestations of family violence, neonaticide, infanticide, and filicide with the purpose of aiding in the early identification of parents at risk. They are discussed within the past and present historical and cultural milieu. A brief review of pertinent literature is presented. Pertinent case studies from the forensic psychiatric practice of the author along with psychodynamic reflections are offered.

Get full access to this article

View all access and purchase options for this article.


Abel, E. L. (1986). Childhood homicide in Erie County, New York. Pediatrics, 77, 709-713.
Adinkrah, M. (2001). When parents kill: A descriptive analysis offilicide in Fiji. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45, 144-158.
Baker, J. (1902). Female criminal lunatics: A sketch. Journal of Mental Science, 48, 13-25.
Batt, J. C. (1948). Homicidal incidence in depressive psychosis. Journal of Mental Science, 94, 782-792.
Bourget, D., & Bradford, J.M.W. (1988). Affective disorder and homicide: A case of familial filicide: Theoretical and clinical considerations. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 32, 222-225.
Bourget, D., & Bradford, J.M.W. (1990). Homicidal parents. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 35, 233-238.
Bromberg, W. (1965). Crime and the mind. New York: Macmillan.
Campion, J. F., Cravens, J. M., & Covan, F. (1988). A study offilicidal men. American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 1041-1044.
Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1988). Evolutionary social psychology and family homicide. Science, 242(10), 519-524.
DeMause, L. (1974). History of childhood. New York: Psychohistory Press.
d’Orban, P. T. (1979). Women who kill their children. British Journal of Psychiatry, 134, 560-571.
Gelles, R. J., & Cornell, C. P. (1990). Intimate violence in families (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Gibson, E., & Klein, S. (1961). Murder: A home office research unitreport. London: HMSO.
Goetting, A. (1990). Child victims ofhomicide: A portrait oftheir killers and the circumstances of their deaths. Violence and Victims, 5(4), 287-295.
Haapasalo, J., & Petäjä. (1999). Mothers who killed or attempted to kill their child: Life circumstances, child abuse, and types of killing. Violence and Victims, 14, 219-239.
Kaplan, H. I., Sadock, B. J., & Grebb, J. A. (1994). Synopsis of psychiatry (7th ed.). Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.
Kunz, J., & Bahr, S. J. (1996). A profile of parental homicide against children. Journal of Family Violence, 11(4), 347-362.
Lewis, C. F., Baranoski, M. V., Buchanan, J. A., & Benedek, E. P. (1998). Factors associated with weapon use in maternal filicide. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 43, 613-618.
Lukianowicz, N. (1971). Infanticide. Clinical Psychiatry, 4, 145-158.
Marleau, J. D., Poulin, B., Webanck, T., Roy, R., & Laporte, L. (1999). Paternal filicide: A study of 10 men. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 44, 57-63.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (2001, April 25). Woman fatally stabbed newborn, police say. p. 3B-3B.
Morton, J. H. (1934) Female homicides. Journal of Mental Science, 80, 64-74.
Muscat, J. E. (1988). Characteristics of childhood homicide in Ohio, 1974-84. American Journal of Public Health, 78, 822-824.
Ponti, G., & Gallina Fiorentini, P. (1988). L’infanticidio e il figlicidio (Infanticide and filicide). In F. Ferracuti (Ed.), Criminologia dei reati omicidiari e del suicidio [Criminology of homicide and suicide] (Vol. 7, pp. 149-162). Milan, Italy: Giuffré.
Resnick, P. J. (1969). Child murder by parents: A psychiatric review offilicide. American Journal of Psychiatry, 126(3), 73-82.
Rheingold, J. C. (1964). The fear of being a woman: Theory of maternal destructiveness. New York: Grune & Stratton.
Rheingold, J. C. (1967). The mother anxiety and death: The catastrophic death complex. Boston: Little, Brown.
Rouselle, A. (1992). Body politics in ancient Rome. In P. S. Pantel (Ed.), A history of women: From ancient goddesses to Christian saints (pp. 296-336). Cambridge, MA: Belknap.
Sadoff, R. L. (1995). Mothers who kill their children. Psychiatric Annals, 25(10), 601-605.
Schlessinger, L. B. (2002). Stalking, homicide and catathymic process. International Journal of Of fender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 46, 64-74.
Scott, P. D. (1973). Parents who kill their children. Medicine, Science and the Law, 13, 120-126.
Silverman, R. A., & Kennedy, L. W. (1988). Women who kill their children. Violence and Victims, 3, 113-127.
Simpson, A., & Stanton, J. (2000). Maternal filicide: A reformulation of factors relevant to risk.Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 10, 136-147.
Stieglitz, H. (1999, November). Investigators construct detailed classification system for child homicide by a parent. Retrieved March 4, 2001, from http://irweb.swmed.udu/newspub/newsdel.asp?story_id=193
Watson, L. (1995). Dark nature. New York: HarperCollins.
Weisheit, R. A. (1986). When mothers kill their children. The Social Science Journal, 23, 439-448.
Wertham, F. (1937). A catathymic crisis: A clinical entity. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 37, 974-977.
Wertham, F. (1978). The catathymic crisis. In I. L. Kutash, S. B. Kutash, & L. B. Schlessinger (Eds.), Violence: Perspectives on murder and aggression (pp. 165-170). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Wilczynski, A. (1991). Images ofwomen who kill their infants: The mad and the bad. Women and Criminal Justice, 2, 71-88.
Williams, R. (1967). Culture and civilization. In P. Edwards (Ed. in Chief), The encyclopedia of philosophy (Vol. 2, pp. 273-276). New York: Macmillan.
Wilson, C. (1984). A criminal history of mankind. New York: Carroll and Graf.

Cite article

Cite article

Cite article


Download to reference manager

If you have citation software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice

Share options


Share this article

Share with email
Share on social media

Share access to this article

Sharing links are not relevant where the article is open access and not available if you do not have a subscription.

For more information view the SAGE Journals article sharing page.

Information, rights and permissions


Published In

Article first published: April 2002
Issue published: April 2002

Rights and permissions

© 2002.
Request permissions for this article.


Published online: April 1, 2002
Issue published: April 2002
PubMed: 12113159



George B. Palermo
Medical College of Wisconsin; Department of Social and Cultural Sciences Marquette University

Metrics and citations


Journals metrics

This article was published in International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.


Article usage*

Total views and downloads: 380

*Article usage tracking started in December 2016

Articles citing this one

Web of Science: 27 view articles Opens in new tab

Crossref: 28

  1. filicidio en España.
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  2. Women Convicted of Intimate Partner Homicide in Oromiya Regional State...
    Go to citation Crossref Google ScholarPub Med
  3. Toward a Better Understanding of the Psychosocial Issues and Different...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  4. Il Figlicidio: aspetti criminologico clinici e psicologico-psichiatric...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  5. An Examination of the Mental Health and Negative Life Events of Women ...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  6. Victim, perpetrator, and offense characteristics in filicide and filic...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  7. Filicide: A gendered profile of offender, victim, and event characteri...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  8. The Female Family Annihilator: An Exploratory Study
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  9. Can we predict the liklihood of parents committing suicide after killi...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  10. The impact of gender roles on verdicts and sentences in cases of filic...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  11. Female Versus Male Perpetrated Femicide...
    Go to citation Crossref Google ScholarPub Med
  12. Schutzraum Familie
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  13. Not only a crime but a tragedy […] exploring the murder of adults with...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  14. References
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  15. Gender differences in filicide offense characteristics—A comprehensive...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  16. Typology of Intimate Partner Homicide...
    Go to citation Crossref Google ScholarPub Med
  17. Infanticide and Neonaticide: A Review of 40 Years of Research Literatu...
    Go to citation Crossref Google ScholarPub Med
  18. Social Structure and Family Homicides
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  19. Passage à l’acte familicide et filicide: deux réalités distinctes?
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  20. Fathers who kill and press coverage in Israel
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  21. Filicide: Historical review and prevention of child death by parent
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  22. Homicidal Syndromes
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  23. Tötung des eigenen Kindes in der Postpartalzeit
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  24. Homicides by Males and Females in India—the Domestic Context
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  25. References
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  26. Andrea Yates and the Criminalization of the Filicidal Maternal Body
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  27. Homicide and infanticide in Stockholm 1920–1939
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  28. Preventing Filicide in Families With Autistic Children
    Go to citation Crossref Google ScholarPub Med

Figures and tables

Figures & Media


View Options

Get access

Access options

If you have access to journal content via a personal subscription, university, library, employer or society, select from the options below:

Alternatively, view purchase options below:

Purchase 24 hour online access to view and download content.

Access journal content via a DeepDyve subscription or find out more about this option.

View options


View PDF/ePub