Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Infanticide and Parenting

  • Susan Hatters FriedmanEmail author
  • James Cavney
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3692-1


From humanity’s distant past, there has existed a range of archetypal narratives relating to the murderous actions and intent of parents toward their children, whether they be biological offspring or adopted. The Hebrew God, for example, tested Abraham by ordering him to sacrifice his son Isaac. The Greek myths of Oedipus Rex, Medea, and many fairy tales from a range of different times and places reflect the enduring and cross-cultural expression of this aspect of human behavior over millennia.

Infanticide has often been used as a generic term to refer to this complex phenomenon. However, it has had different meanings depending on time and context. In Biblical times, the term infanticide included any young children murdered by either parent or the State. The modern medicolegal interpretation of the term infanticide is, in contrast, more restrictive.

Although infanticide legislation varies cross-nationally, it only includes certain mothers who kill their young children...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological Medicine and Auckland Regional Forensic Psychiatry ServicesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Auckland Regional Forensic Psychiatry ServicesAucklandNew Zealand

Section editors and affiliations

  • Curtis S. Dunkel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWestern Illinois UniversityMacombUSA