Filicide as a Part of Extended Suicide: An Experience of Psychotherapy with the Survivor

By Manjula, M.; Chandrashekar, C. | Indian Journal of Psychiatry, April-June 2014 | Go to article overview

Filicide as a Part of Extended Suicide: An Experience of Psychotherapy with the Survivor


Manjula, M., Chandrashekar, C., Indian Journal of Psychiatry


Byline: M. Manjula, C. Chandrashekar

The tragedy of maternal filicide and extended suicides has occurred throughout history. Maternal filicide-suicide perpetrators most often suffer from depression, suicidality, or psychosis. Interventions in such cases are not commonly reported in the psychiatric settings, and the components of psychotherapeutic approach and its efficacy are also not known. Here we present a long-term therapy carried out with a 36-year-old married lady, with the complaints of low mood, suicidal ideation, severe guilt feelings, and depressive cognitions. There was positive family history of depression, past history of dysthymia, suicidal attempt, and severe marital discord. Therapy was carried out for a period of 9 months with follow-up for 4 years and addressed existential issues and grief with the components of existential therapy, grief therapy, narratives, religious beliefs, and interpersonal acceptance. The case highlights the need for blending of multiple approaches to meet the challenges such cases can pose.

Introduction

Maternal filicide is defined as child murder by the mother. Reasons for maternal filicide may be altruistic motives, acute psychosis in mother, birth of an unwanted child, fatal maltreatment of the child or spouse revenge. [sup][1] The mothers often face multiple psychosocial stressors such as financial problems/unemployment, social isolation, full time care giver status, being victims of domestic violence, or have other relationship problems like conflict with family members, ongoing abusive adult relationships, and lack of social support. [sup][2],[3] A significant proportion (16-29%) of filicides end in completed suicide by the mother. [sup][4]

Bourget and Bradford (1990) [sup][5] noted that 31% of parents who committed filicide had a diagnosis of major depression, compared with none of the perpetrators of nonparental homicide. A recent review of 85 filicide cases in Turkey [sup][6] showed that nearly half of the perpetrators had been diagnosed of psychiatric disturbances, including schizophrenia (61%) and major depression (22%). Most frequently, these mothers had altruistic motives. Spouse revenge filicide is difficult to prevent because there is usually little warning. This behavior most often occurs after learning of spousal infidelity or in the course of child custody disputes. [sup][7]

The intervention with the survivors often includes addressing bereavement, trauma, guilt, and existential issues. The interventions with survivors indicate that participants experienced high levels of psychological distress, including elevated symptoms of depression, guilt, anxiety, and trauma. They experienced substantial difficulties in the social arena (e.g., talking with others about the suicide). Majority of them viewed professional help as beneficial, although many informal sources of support were also valued (e.g., one-to-one contact with other survivors). Depression and lack of information about where to find help served as barriers to help-seeking behaviors. Higher levels of functional impairments were associated with higher levels of psychological distress, social isolation, and barriers for seeking help. [sup][8] However, there is very little research on intervention with the survivors of filicide and there is a need for evidence-based interventions.

The case is presented in the background of lack of literature on intervention with such cases, and also to highlight the need for integration of various techniques in therapy, and therapist's unique therapeutic experience.

Case Report

Mrs. N., a 36-year-old married lady working as a nurse, was brought from central prison with the complaints of low mood, severe guilt feelings, depressive cognitions, suicidal ideas, and crying spells. She had charges of attempted suicide and homicide of her two children.

The patient was unconscious for 2 days after the attempt and was referred to NIMHANS for high suicidal risk.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Filicide as a Part of Extended Suicide: An Experience of Psychotherapy with the Survivor
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.