Filicide: Psychology of a Mother Murdering Her Child Bangalore CEO Suchana Seth case, the reasons for filicide

Filicide: Psychology of Mother Murdering Her Child

How can a mother kill her own child?

This is the outraged reaction to an Indian mother, Suchana Seth allegedly killing her 4-year-old son.

According to reports, Suchana strangled her son and then put him in a bag, and tried to flee to hide her crime.

Killing one’s child, filicide may seem rare but, in the US, it happens about 3,000 times every year. More often it’s the father who is the perpetrator, 57.4% of the time compared to the mother.

Filicide: Psychology of Mother Murdering Her Child
The reasons for filicide are many and complicated

Maternal Filicide

So, what made this seemingly well-educated and accomplished woman take the life of her child?

The 3 possible reasons could be:

1)  Involuntary Manslaughter
It was involuntary and unplanned. She lost her temper and was so emotionally dysregulated that she wasn’t aware of her actions till it was too late.

2)  Mental Health Issues
She was so depressed and frustrated that she wanted to end it for both of them but at the last minute chickened out and decided not to kill herself too.

3)  Psychopathic Or Sociopathic Tendencies
She was revengeful and spiteful; she was angry that the father was allowed by the court to meet the child which the child was looking forward to, so decided to hurt them both.

Maternal Instinct

Contrary to popular belief women are not born with maternal instinct. Society and literature have erroneously portrayed the maternal instinct as a woman’s default state of being.

The truth is the so-called maternal instinct does not come naturally. Like all behaviors, maternal behaviors are the product of the conditioning of the environment. The past and current – childhood and societal expectations of a woman’s role.

We don’t have any information about her birth family, particularly her mother. The level of mothering one receives as a child influences how one mothers.

Early Caregiving Deprivation

Psychologist Harry Harlow’s monkey experiments revealed that early caregiving deprivation was found to have retarded the mothers’ emotional development.  Harlow found that once these monkeys gave birth, they cared little for their offspring. He wrote: “these monkey mothers that had never experienced love of any kind were devoid of love for their infants”. While some mothers simply ignored their children, Harlow characterized others as “evil” and abusive and in some instances even killed them.

Entitled Narcissist

Suchana, the CEO of a Bengaluru-based start-up Mindful AI Lab, probably had high expectations for her personal life. She could have had the entitled narcissistic belief that women can have it all, career and family. She expected all her ducks to magically fall in a row with regard to her life.  But that didn’t happen, which may have led to the marriage breakdown and subsequent divorce. This must have triggered her narcissistic rage and unhinged her mental stability.

Like many divorce cases, hers too seemed acrimonious. It’s the dogfight of how badly I can hurt my spouse. Sadly, children become the collateral damage of two hurting individuals who are in constant war. Parents are completely oblivious to the feelings of the helpless child they were instrumental in bringing into the world.

Lessons To Be Learned

It’s a sad state of affairs and I’m not being facetious when I say that it can happen to anyone.

As a parent, who hasn’t lost one’s temper and became highly reactive to one’s child. I know I did quite a few times which I’m ashamed of.

Sometimes, in the heat of our highly reactive and volatile state, we aren’t aware of our actions, and before we know the fatal blow has been struck and an innocent life has been snuffed out.

Let this case be a wake-up call to every parent to evaluate their own parenting deficits.

Learning to manage one’s emotions is crucial to good parenting.

Incidents like these can teach us about how to avoid unredeemable mistakes.

Watch the video on this article

Further Reading:

The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog  Bruce Perry

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry Bebe Moore Campbell 

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