Filicide, Attempted Filicide, and Psychotic Disorders*

Universidade Severino Sombra, Vassouras, RJ, Brazil.
Journal of Forensic Sciences (Impact Factor: 1.16). 01/2011; 56(2):551 - 554. DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01645.x

ABSTRACT   The objective of the study was to describe and discuss the cases of two women who faced criminal charges, one for attempting to murder her three children and the other for killing her 1-year-old boy. After a forensic psychiatric assessment of their level of criminal responsibility, these patients were considered not guilty by reason of insanity and were committed to forensic mental hospitals. These two patients received a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, according to the DSM-IV-TR criteria. In both cases, psychotic symptoms were present before the manifestation of violent behavior, in the form of persecutory delusions, auditory hallucinations, and pathological impulsivity. The investigation into cases of filicide may contribute powerfully to expand our understanding of motivational factors underlying this phenomenon and enhance the odds for effective prevention.

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Available from: Alexandre M Valença, May 13, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: A parent who continuously physically abuses her/his child doesn't aim to kill the child but commits an accidental filicide in a more violent outburst of anger. Fatal abuse deaths are prevented by recognition of signs of battering in time. Out of 200 examined intra-familial filicides, 23 (12%) were caused by child battering and 13 (7%) by continuous battering. The medical and court records of the victim and the perpetrator were examined. The perpetrator was the biological mother and the victim was male in 69 per cent of the cases. The abused children were either younger than one year or from two-and-a-half to four years old. Risk factors of the victim (being unwanted, premature birth, separation from the parent caused by hospitalization or custodial care, being ill and crying a lot) and the perpetrator (personality disorder, low socioeconomic status, chaotic family conditions, domestic violence, isolation, alcohol abuse) were common. The injuries caused by previous battering were mostly soft tissue injuries in head and limbs and head traumas and the battering lasted for days or even an year. The final assault was more violent and occurred when the parent was more anxious, frustrated or left alone with the child. The perpetrating parent was diagnosed as having a personality disorder (borderline, narcissistic or dependent) and often substance dependence (31%). None of them were psychotic. Authorities and community members should pay attention to the change in child's behavior and inexplicable injuries or absence from daycare. Furthermore if the parent is immature, alcohol dependent, have a personality disorder and is unable to cope with the demands the small child entails in the parent's life, the child may be in danger.
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    Criminal Justice Studies 09/2013; 26(3). DOI:10.1080/1478601X.2012.733873
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of the study was to evaluate the mental status of all women (n = 14) who were acquitted by reason of insanity of charges of murder or attempted murder and committed to a forensic psychiatric hospital in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. All cases were retrospectively examined, including medical files, technical records, and forensic experts' official reports. A conclusive psychiatric diagnosis was established using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I and II Disorders and clinical and forensic records. The most common diagnosis was schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorders (n = 8; 57.3%). Most victims (n = 12; 75%) were close relatives of the patients. We found that 43% (n = 6) of the patients had a previous history of violent behavior. According to the initial psychiatric forensic evaluation, 5 patients (35.7%) had psychotic symptoms. It is expected that a growing understanding of motivational factors underlying homicidal behavior in mentally disturbed female offenders may further the implementation of effective preventive and therapeutic interventions.
    Journal of Forensic Sciences 02/2014; 59(3). DOI:10.1111/1556-4029.12373 · 1.16 Impact Factor