Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Understanding the Acts of Moms from Susan Smith to the

Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Understanding the Acts of Moms from Susan Smith to the "Prom Mom"

by Cheryl L. Meyer, Michelle Oberman
     
 

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A special kind of horror is reserved for mothers who kill their children. Cases such as those of Susan Smith, who drowned her two young sons by driving her car into a lake, and Melissa Drexler, who disposed of her newborn baby in a restroom at her prom, become media sensations. Unfortunately, in addition to these high-profile cases, hundreds of mothers kill their

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Overview

A special kind of horror is reserved for mothers who kill their children. Cases such as those of Susan Smith, who drowned her two young sons by driving her car into a lake, and Melissa Drexler, who disposed of her newborn baby in a restroom at her prom, become media sensations. Unfortunately, in addition to these high-profile cases, hundreds of mothers kill their children in the United States each year. The question most often asked is, why? What would drive a mother to kill her own child?

Those who work with such cases, whether in clinical psychology, social services, law enforcement or academia, often lack basic understandings about the types of circumstances and patterns which might lead to these tragic deaths, and the social constructions of motherhood which may affect women's actions. These mothers oftentimes defy the myths and media exploitation of them as evil, insane, or lacking moral principles, and they are not a homogenous group. In obvious ways, intervention strategies should differ for a teenager who denies her pregnancy and then kills her newborn and a mother who kills her two toddlers out of mental illness or to further a relationship. A typology is needed to help us to understand the different cases that commonly occur and the patterns they follow in order to make possible more effective prevention plans.

Mothers Who Kill Their Children draws on extensive research to identify clear patterns among the cases of women who kill their children, shedding light on why some women commit these acts. The characteristics the authors establish will be helpful in creating more meaningful policies, more targeted intervention strategies, and more knowledgeable evaluations of these cases when they arise.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814761281
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
08/01/2001
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
721,953
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

Laura J. Miller
Through vivid sketches of the lives of women who have killed their children, Meyer and Oberman shatter the myth that such mothers are necessarily mad or monstrous. This carefully researched account shows how social forces can contribute to both the causes and the cures for infanticide. Readers will find themselves shifting from asking, 'How could she do that?' to 'How could we have let that happen to her?'. --(Laura J. Miller, M.D., Editor Postpartum Mood Disorders and Chief of Women's Mental Health Services, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Meet the Author

Cheryl L. Meyer is Professor of Psychology at Wright State University School of Professional Psychology in Dayton, Ohio. She is also the author of The Wandering Uterus (NYU Press).


Michelle Oberman is Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law.

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