Paternal filicide: a study of 10 men

Can J Psychiatry. 1999 Feb;44(1):57-63. doi: 10.1177/070674379904400107.


Objective: To describe the psychiatric and sociodemographic profiles of 10 men who killed 1 or more of their children.

Method: Data were gathered from psychiatric, psychological, and criminological assessments found in the files of 10 filicidal men hospitalized at the Institut Philippe Pinel de Montréal between 1982 and 1994.

Results: Many situational factors were present during the period preceding the offence (such as the possibility of a separation or financial problems). Most of these homicides have been classified as pathological filicides. At the time of the offence, the most frequent diagnoses were mood disorders. Eight subjects had personality disorders, one-half of which were borderline personality disorders. Four men had psychotic symptoms at the time of the offence. Six of the 10 men also killed or attempted to kill their spouses.

Conclusion: Many factors are involved in the dynamics of a filicidal situation. It is therefore difficult to identify specific warning signals for the prevention of this type of homicide. However, mental health professionals and the general population must be made aware of the importance of early assessment of possible filicidal tendencies when a man verbalizes delusional ideas about his child and/or if he manifests disorganized and bizarre behaviour.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / classification
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Criminal Psychology*
  • Delusions / complications
  • Delusions / psychology
  • Family Characteristics
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Fathers / psychology
  • Homicide / classification
  • Homicide / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Mood Disorders / complications
  • Motivation
  • Personality Disorders / complications
  • Psychotic Disorders / complications
  • Quebec
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology
  • Suicide / psychology