Natural Murderous Feelings Toward Your Child??

I’m not sure if this belongs here, if it should go somewhere else, David, please move it.

I was reading some more on that woman that threw her baby off a bridge ( ) and came across this:

"Some experts say it’s not unusual for parents to feel ambivalent, or even murderous, toward their children. ‘It’s a completely natural feeling,’ said Michael Flynn, a psychologist and associate director of the Center for Violence and Human Survival at John Jay College in New York. ‘They feel overwhelmed, stuck and paralyzed, knowing there is no way out except drastic action. Then, after, they say, ‘Oh my God, what have I done.’

(bolding mine)

What can this man be thinking? IMO, it is NOT natural for a human parent to feel murderous tendencies toward their own children. Tired of them, irritated by them, occasional wish that they weren’t there, even more drastic, hating them for a minute, but murdering them? Does anyone else this this is a load of bullshit?

I am outraged at the psychological crap that is coming out all the time now. It seems like it is okay to do/feel absolutely anything we please. This feel-good society makes me want to buy a cabin in the mountains and never come down.


It’s perfectly natural that you should want to kill Mr. Flynn and those like him. :wink:

Seriously, though, I don’t know where the heck he gets off with a statement like that – although I have noticed that sometimes the wackiest people in the world go into the field of psychology. It’s certainly not natural – I don’t think humans would have gotten very far evolution-wise if our ancestors felt it was natural to kill their babies.

Yes, there is post-partum depression. Yes, there are wackos who kill their babies. No, it is not natural.

Not all cultures feel that infanticide is unnatural. The Romans, for instance took unwanted children to an open-air platform, and left them to die of exposure. The Inca left child sacrifices on the sides of the mountains. Children were sometimes slain to lie along with their elders in the tomb. Even today, other cultures practice infanticide almost casually when the child is unwelcome. Our closest relatives, the primates also will kill their own young when under stress. Other animals kill their young in times of food scacity, overpopulation, and just plain irritation. Oh, but they’re animals, you say. Well, so are we.

As time went by, new religions arose that abhored the killing of children. Laws followed suit, and after a while it was deeply ingrained in our culture. The taboo of infanticide is a relatively modern invention.

Yes, it is so unfortunate we are not allowed to commit infantcide. It would so much improve society if we could just kill all the screaming children. Unfortunately though after all the adults died off there would be no one left.

I too vote for the this is not a natural feeling.


I don’t see how anyone can make any definite statements about the prevelance of such attitudes, since I doubt that very many people would be honest about such feelings. But the incidence of such feelings is irrelevant to whether it’s “okay” to do it. I don’t think that Flynn was saying that infacticide was justified by these feelings. On the other hand, I think that it’s rather silly to suggest that these feelings are so disgusting that no one should have them. You can’t just say “stop feeling that way” because people don’t choose to have these feelings, they just do.

" ‘Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter.’ " -Kurt Vonnegut, * Breakfast of Champions *

Well, maybe you are. Biologically, we’re animals, but I’d like to think that emotionally we’ve evolved a little better than that. Infantcide taboos may be a relatively new invention, but so are computers. I’ll take it.

Sure there were societies that killed their children, but the history books don’t show everything. I’d speculate that there were screaming and wailing mothers and/or fathers trying to save their babies too.


I would like to think that he meant “a completely natural feeling” as in “a feeling that occurs occasionally in humans”. I mean, it’s perfectly “natural” to have murderous feelings towards someone you’re angry at. It doesn’t mean that we should agree that acting on them is OK, just that the feelings are there.

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

I think the point is well taken – there is nothing ‘unnatural’ about feeling murderous rage against one’s children, though I wouldn’t characterize it as particularly natural either. In any case, feelings do not justify actions.

I remember reading a piece a few years ago in the NY Times Magazine that made the distinction between neonaticide (killing your child immediately after birth) and infanticide (at any later time). In fact someone’s put it up on their site ( Basically, there has been a historical distinction between the two and invariably mothers who commit neonaticide get off relatively easy; society has more pity on someone who, in the chaos of birth, snuffs out their newborn than on one who, with cold deliberation, decides to off their offspring a few days or weeks after the birth. I think this was the phenomenon that Dr. Flynn was talking about.

[Damn you guys can team up and dogpile on people (like our Dr. Flynn) in a flash! At least when I gave away the ending of American Beauty in a thread without giving a spoiler warning (it was late, I wasn’t thinking), I deserved it.]

A man, a plan, a canal: GatewayDrug

This probably belongs somewhere else…but I am going for it anyway…

Why do the murderers of children usually only get manslaughter charges as opposed to murder charges. I can cite two recent child killing events where this happened.

In Delaware, a young couple went to a motel to deliver their baby. When the baby was born, they put it in a trash bag and the father bashed its head against a trash dumpster and left it there dead. Both charged only with manslaughter. In fact the father has applied for work release.

In NJ, a man placed his 18 month old in a bathtub of scalding hot water…baby died of injuries sustained in bathtub…man only gets charged with manslaughter.

It seems to me that there is little value placed on the lives of children in the court system…like children are disposable or something.

Devil’s Advocate Time: Despite the innate human drive to reproduce, I can imagine a time when humans were nomadic hunter gatherers, with survival difficult and food hard to come by, deciding it was a lot easier to accomplish your goals with 2 children than with 3, and killing the “extra” one. Less ballast, one fewer mouth to feed–I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying I can imagine it.

David, how can you say post-partum depression is not “natural”? It may be uncommon, and harmful, and contrary to convention and shared morality, but that doesn’t make it “unnatural.” That’s a knee-jerk reaction I wouldn’t expect from you.

Well, I frequently have natural murderous feelings towards other peoples’ children, does that count?

Phil said:

When I read this, I thought to myself, “I didn’t say that.” So I checked. I didn’t mean to say that, but I can see how you thought I did. Consider that sentence about post-partum depression a separate thought. The “No it’s not natural” was only meant to apply to the wackos who kill their babies.

Perhaps there is some legal recognition of the propensity towards infanticide…i seem to recall that under English law, a woman can not be imprisoned if convicted of the murder of her own child within two years of it’s birth. I could be wrong on the specifics, but the policy is leniency.

If we as a society don’t want people around who have the impulse to murder their own infants, then we should LET people who DO have such an impulse actually murder their infants. That’ll take the impulse out of the gene pool pretty quickly.

(I think I’d better log this suggestion in the same place as the idea I had of exposing everybody to all known diseases for the purpose of breeding a disease-proof population.)

The truth, as always, is more complicated than that.

Oh please.

The selection of your child as a sacrifice to the gods would have been an honor. We’re talking about religion here. Deeply felt beliefs.

As a perfect sacrifice was of utmost importance the child selected must be esceptionally healthy and attractive to have been selected. The parents would be proud that their child was deemed worthy of the gods.

Look at the stories in the Bible, even, of cultures that sacrificed their children to heathen gods. The Bible doesn’t note that the heathen people were all too happy to cast off their religion when confronted by the Jews.

Do you really think that it was like a gruesome lottery with all of the parents praying that they would be passed over? For infanticide to become a cultural/relgious practice that goes on for hundreds of generations, it has to be wholeheartedly supported by the people . . . which includes parents. Otherwise, there would be cultural upheaval/revolt, and the offending religion would end. Eventually, most of the infanticide practicing religions did die out. Exposure through trade, cultural mixing, exploration, and forced conversion killed it off, pretty much, all over the world. But I have read of some tribes that still practice ritual infanticide to this day.