JPL-2010-38-3-02-McKee, Maternal Filicide and Mental Illness in Italy: A Comparative Study

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GEOFFREY R. MCKEE, PH.D. and ALESANDRA BRAMANTE, PH.D.

This retrospective records review study of maternal filicide in
Italy compared the demographic, historical, clinical, victim, and
offense/forensic characteristics of mothers with (MI) and without
(NMI) severe mental illness. MI mothers were found to be older,
married, more intelligent, and unemployed at the time of their
crime. They were more likely to be in psychiatric outpatient
treatment and to have a history of suicide attempts. NMI mothers
were more likely to have given birth in a nonhospital setting and
to have a younger-aged victim. MI mothers were more likely to
have confessed to their crime, but at trial almost all were acquitted
by reason of insanity. Implications of the data for treatment
planning and prevention are discussed.

Season: 
2010
Volume: 
38
Number: 
3
Keywords: 
Infanticide, maternal filicide, mental illness, prevention.

GEOFFREY R. MCKEE, PH.D. is a Board-certified forensic
psychologist and Clinical Professor in the Department of
Neuropsychiatry at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

ALESANDRA BRAMANTE, PH.D. is a clinical psychologist at the A.O. Fatebenefratelli-Oftalmico Hospital in Milan, Italy, where she conducts evaluations, treatment, and research with mothers who are at risk for harming their children.