The following papers have been accepted for presentation at AAP 2013. If you've just submitted an abstract, it may take a few days to appear.
|Name: Dr. Glenn Carruthers|
|Institution: Macquarie University|
|Title: Making sense of spousal revenge filicide: a disordered person perception hypothesis|
|Abstract: “Spousal revenge” killers are deemed by the courts to have murdered their child out of a desire to cause harm to their ex-partner, the child’s other parent. I argue that such a motivation is not understandable or reasonable in a manner which guarantees the moral agency or legal responsibility of such perpetrators. I propose instead that such killers be reconceptualised as having a disordered motivation, a motivation so far from societal norms and causing so much suffering that it appears pathological. Prima facie the deviation from the norm and the suffering caused by filicide is at least as great as many recognised symptoms of major mental disorders, such as auditory verbal hallucinations. Thus, by our typical standards of identifying mental disorder we should at least be open to the possibility of a disorder in cases of filicide. Whereas a normal free human moral agent places significant weight on the welfare of their child, especially in emotionally difficult times, the “spousal revenge” killer views their child’s welfare as less important than causing harm to another person, in particular the child’s other parent. In an attempt to move beyond the prima facie case I hypothesise that this disordered motivation is possible as the killer fails to represent their child as a moral subject with a mind of their own. As such the killer experiences the child as an object, rather than a person (and thus not even potentially an in-group member), who is of significant emotional value to the other parent. As the killer experiences the child as an object rather than a person they cannot elicit a motivation to protect the child’s welfare. The specificity of this disorder explains why the ex-partner themselves is not targeted and it explains how the killer is able to understand that killing the child will harm the other parent. This hypothesis offers seven testable predictions.|
|Keywords: filicide, person perception, psychopathology|