An investigation into the motives of filicidal mothers in selected plays

Holm, Nicole (2017-03)

Thesis (MDram)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Maternal filicide is a rare crime perpetrated for a number of reasons. It is a complex multifactorial phenomenon with psychiatric, psychological and environmental factors combining to create fertile ground for this crime. This study investigates the extent to which dramatic texts adhere to research on maternal filicide. This would determine the degree to which an actor charged with playing a filicidal mother would be able to create a psychologically coherent and believable character. Four plays were selected for this research study which have maternal filicide as motif, namely: Aalst (McLean, 2007), My naam/my name is Ellen Pakkies (Meiring, 2011), And all the children cried (Jones & Campbell, 2002) and By the Bog of Cats (Carr, 1999). A discussion on acting approaches and text analysis was done to indicate how an actor would analyse a dramatic text so as to create a character for performance adhering to psychological realism. It was determined that, for the purposes of this thesis, most information pertaining to character will be found in the background story, given circumstances and character components of formalist text analysis. The three most dominant perspectives on maternal filicide were briefly discussed in an attempt to understand what type of mother would kill her child. Literature from the psychiatric perspective documented unipolar depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia as three conditions often associated with filicidal mothers. From the psychological literature, it emerged that certain personality disorders are often diagnosed in mothers who have killed their children. The psychosocial perspective argues that a mother becomes filicidal because of environmental factors which impact negatively on her psychologically and thus impair her functioning. Child development theories, the neurological and the feminist perspective were also considered. The factors associated with maternal filicide were then delineated as cognitive, affective and behavioural manifestations so as to make them recognisable when encountered in the backstory, given circumstances and character components of a text. It was concluded that all four plays were factually accurate in creating a psychosocial environment in which maternal filicide is possible. It was, however, found that only three of the four texts adhered to research on maternal filicide in that the filicidal characters exhibited behaviour, cognitions and affect in accordance with mental illnesses associated with this crime.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Moedermoord is 'n seldsame misdaad wat gepleeg word om 'n verskeidenheid redes. Dit is 'n komplekse, multifaktoriale fenomeen met psigiatriese, sielkundige en omgewingsfaktore wat saamwerk om vrugbare teelaarde te skep vir hierdie misdaad. Hierdie studie ondersoek die mate waarin dramatekste voldoen aan navorsing oor moedermoord. Dit bepaal die mate waarin 'n akteur wat die rol van ʼn moedermoordenaar moet vertolk, ʼn sielkundig samehangende karakter sal kan skep. Vier toneelstukke is gekies vir hierdie navorsingstudie wat moedermoord as motief het, naamlik Aalst (McLean, 2007), My naam/my name is Ellen Pakkies (Meiring, 2011), And all the children cried (Jones & Campbell, 2002) en By the Bog of Cats (Carr, 1999). 'n Bespreking oor toneelspelbenaderings en teksanalise is gedoen om aan te dui hoe 'n akteur 'n dramatiese teks sou ontleed ten einde 'n karakter te skep wat voldoen aan sielkundige realisme. Daar is vasgestel dat, vir die doeleindes van hierdie tesis, die meeste inligting wat verband hou met karakter in die agtergrondstorie, gegewe omstandighede en karakter komponente van formalistiese teksanalise voorkom. Die drie mees dominante perspektiewe oor moedermoord is kortliks bespreek in 'n poging om te verstaan watter tipe ma haar kind sou doodmaak. Literatuur van die psigiatriese perspektief dokumenteer unipolêre depressie, bipolêre versteuring en skisofrenie as drie kondisies wat dikwels geassosieer word met moedermoord. Uit die sielkundige literatuur het dit geblyk dat sekere persoonlikheidsversteurings dikwels gediagnoseer word in moeders wat hul kinders doodmaak. Die psigososiale perspektief hou voor dat 'n ma moontlik moorddadig word as gevolg van omgewingsfaktore wat sielkundig negatief impakteer en dus haar funksionering benadeel. Kinderontwikkelingsteorieë, die neurologiese en die feministiese perspektiewe is ook oorweeg. Die bewese faktore wat verband hou met moedermoord is afgebaken as kognitiewe, affektiewe en gedragmanifestasies om dit herkenbaar te maak wanneer teëgekom in die agtergrondstorie, gegewe omstandighede en karakter komponente van 'n teks. Daar is bevind dat al vier toneelstukke feitelik korrek was in die skep van 'n sosiologiese omgewing waarin moedermoord moontlik is. Slegs drie van die vier tekste voldoen egter aan navorsing oor moedermoord tot die mate waarin die moordende karakters se gedrag, kognisies en affek toon in ooreenstemming is met geestelike siektes wat verband hou met hierdie misdaad.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/101087
This item appears in the following collections: