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Family Murder

Pathologies of Love and Hate

Edited by Susan Hatters Friedman, M.D.
Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry

  • ISBN 978-0-87318-223-2
  • Item #7223
Winner of the 2020 Manfred S. Guttmacher Award

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Drawing on real-life cases as well as research data, Family Murder: Pathologies of Love and Hate distills the current psychiatric knowledge of different forms of murder within the family. Although crimes of this sort have made headlines for decades—and although violence and homicide within the family are public health issues—little guidance exists in the research literature for mental health professionals who treat these families or for the child protection workers and lawyers who interact with them.

This book offers a unique framework for examining the various types of family murder—delving into the commonalities, the differences, and society's misconceptions and providing readers with a comprehensive guide to begin to understand these tragedies.

Ten forensic psychiatrists, who among them have interviewed hundreds of perpetrators and thousands of individuals affected by family violence, examine crimes such as intimate partner homicide, feticide, child murder by parents, siblicide, and intimate partner homicide in elderly populations as they discuss

  • Epidemiology and public health implications
  • Various motivations for each subtype of family murder
  • Psychiatric assessment issues (e.g., risk assessments, sanity evaluations)
  • Means of prevention
  • Aftermath of these homicides, including sentencing of and working with the perpetrator

No other single source gathers this amount of detailed research and psychiatric experience about every type of murder in the family. With a case-based learning approach supplemented by expert analysis, Family Murder: Pathologies of Love and Hate is an indispensable resource for mental health.


  • Contributors
  • Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry Authorship Statement
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Intimate Partner Homicide by Men
  • Chapter 2. Intimate Partner Homicide by Women
  • Chapter 3. Feticide
  • Chapter 4. Neonaticide
  • Chapter 5. Fatal Maltreatment and Child Abuse Turned to Murder
  • Chapter 6. Child Murder by Parents
  • Chapter 7. Siblicide
  • Chapter 8. Parricide
  • Chapter 9. Intimate Partner Homicide in Elderly Populations
  • Chapter 10. Familicide: Family Annihilation
  • Conclusion
  • Index


    Jacob M. Appel
    Alec Buchanan, M.D., Ph.D.
    Richard L. Frierson, M.D.
    Deborah Giorgi-Guarnieri, J.D., M.D.
    Jacqueline Landess, M.D., J.D.
    Richard Martinez, M.D., M.H.
    Debra A. Pinals, M.D.
    Phillip J. Resnick, M.D.

About the Authors

Each of the authors is a member of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP) Committee on Psychiatry and the Law. Susan Hatters Friedman, M.D., serves as Chair of the Committee on Psychiatry and the Law at GAP.

Parricide – the killing of a close relative, usually one's father – is a taboo crime, producing deeply-held social reactions of both revulsion and fascination. In ancient Rome, parricide was punished with the poena cullei, a spectacular form of execution in which the offender is sewn into a leather sack along with a serpent, a cock, a monkey, and a dog, and then cast into the sea. We no longer punish parricides with the poena cullei, of course, but our revulsion and fascination is in no way diminished for those who commit murder within their families. The Susan Smith case and the Menendez brothers are part of our cultural fabric. The scholarship within this comprehensive volume helps to explain this seemingly-inexplicable category of crime. Spanning twelve chapters, including scholarship on intimate partner homicides, the murder of children by their parents, and the murder of parents by their children, this is a landmark work that represents the psychiatric state of the art about parricide and analogous forms of homicide. Accordingly, the book deserves to be read widely - not only by the psychiatrists and psychologists who work on associated matters – but also by criminologists, jurists, and legislators.—James C. Oleson, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Criminology, The University of Auckland

In this book, leading forensic psychiatrists delve into each of the types of murder that can occur within families, from killing of the newborn to elderly mercy killings. Case studies and descriptions of motives, along with real world data, bring these tragedies into sharp focus. This book is relevant for mental health professionals, as well as for those in the legal and child protection arenas. It should lead to efforts to accomplish the ultimate goal of prevention.—Renee Binder, M.D., Past President American Psychiatric Association; Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry UCSF

In Family Murder: Pathologies of Love and Hate, Dr. Susan Hatters Friedman has gathered together an A-List of clinician-scholars to produce a meticulous, compassionate, and timely account of murder within the life cycle of the family. Through both riveting cases and rigorous research, the authors explicate the tragic motivations at work when one family member ends the life of another.—John Monahan, Ph.D., Shannon Distinguished Professor of Law, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia

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