Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Marieke Liem on Radio 1 BE about murderous mothers

A mother who is far from the romantic ideal image of the mother as we know is the murderous mother. Genevieve Lhermitte, the mother who killed her 5 children, or the neurosurgeon who killed her 14-year-old daughter whose trial recently ended are examples of shocking stories. It goes against every thought on the image we have about mothers. Marieke Liem, associate professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University, spoke about this at Radio 1 BE.

The opening of the radio show began with the question ‘How is such a thing possible? A mother who kills her child’. Liem ‘As you just said, this is something that goes against all intuition and that raises many questions when something like this happens. When we talk about filicide, including filicide by mothers, it is important not to put them in a heap, but to add a nuance between the different types and the various motives.

The motives

Liem explains that in science four categories are used for filicide by mothers in general. A common category is neonaticide. neonaticide is the killing of the newborn child. ‘That often happens due to fear of discovery. Or with some women who do not know that they are pregnant because of an extremely low IQ or because of a psychosis. This type of crime is often committed by young mothers’.

The Medea

Another category is the Medea, which differs from the neonaticide. The Medea is the killing of the child in revenge because of the ex-partner. As an example, Liem gives the separation between man and woman with the idea ‘if I can't have the children, if they aren't mine, then certainly not yours’. Medea was originally a female mythological god. However, in Western culture, it is more common that Medea is seen as a man. Liem gives the explanation that this is because children are more often assigned to the mother, thus the revenge comes from the father.

Do you want to know more about the categories of filicide by mothers? Listen here to the show (Dutch, from min. 01:38:00).

This website uses cookies.  More information.