There have recently been increased incidences of mothers harming their newborn babies intentionally. This might appear to be very bizarre given that a mother is naturally expected to show extreme care and sensitivity to her newborn baby. The article “Good mothers, bad thoughts: New mother’s thoughts of intentionally harming their newborns” by Louise Murray and Mark Finn explores this issue from a psychological perspective.
Murray and Finn commence their exploration by a comprehensive literature review where several facts are brought into light. The occurrence of thoughts of harming a newborn child by a mother is mainly associated with depression on the mother’s side. These mothers are often characterized as being in urgent need of health checkups and assessments to check for the absence of at-risk behavior such as abuse, anger and care giving neglect as well as the presence of psychosis (Murray and Finn, 2012, p.42). However, research has also shown that some mothers without any characteristics of depression also develop thoughts of harming their newborn babies. As shown earlier, infant harm, thoughts are often associated with the mother’s depression and psychosis, but according to some literature, the harboring of infant harm thoughts is not exclusively a symptom of postnatal psychosis. This is almost seems to suggest that flashes of destructive and negative thoughts by mothers that involve them of intentionally harming their infants is a natural stage of the motherhood process. One researcher goes forward to claim that the problems of postnatal obsessive behavior usually exemplify themselves when mothers of new borns and sometimes-even fathers appraise their harmful thoughts negatively and view them as catastrophic by overestimating the responsibility that they have of preventing harm to their children and the probability of harm occurring to their infant (Murray and Finn, 2012, p. 43). Murray and Finn of this article also look at some of the proposed solution mechanism with one of them being the application of cognitive behavioral treatment. This will, according to researchers, help to modify the faulty interpretations of normal thoughts of harm to infants and eliminated their associated obsessions.
The interview revealed many aspects. First, it appeared that the mothers are not bad mothers at all and in fact desired what was best for their children. In fact, most of them desired to be perfect mothers when their children were first born, for instance, they would change diapers immediately, feed their babies on time and eliminate anything that seemed to resemble imperfection in terms of taking care of the baby. However, it was after the realization that motherhood could not be perfect that the ill thoughts started creeping in. For instance, some started seeing their babies as an intruder as they remembered the childbearing pain and the lack of instant bonding between the mother and the child (Murray and Finn, 2012, p. 50). Some felt frustrated, angry and guilty that they could be prefect mothers and tend to dehumanize themselves or their children leading to the emergence of harmful thoughts. It was such thoughts that often led to depression in the women and this accentuated the occurrence of thoughts of harm in them. Some also claimed that the thoughts were triggered by the realization of the extreme vulnerability of their children (Murray and Finn, 2012, p. 54).
Murray, L., & Finn, M. (2012). Good mothers, bad thoughts: New mothers’ thoughts of intentionally harming their newborns. Feminism & Psychology, 22(41), 41-59.