1st Edition

Mothers Accused and Abused Addressing Complex Psychological Needs

Edited By Angela Foster Copyright 2019
    194 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    194 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Mothers Accused and Abused: Addressing Complex Psychological Needs brings together stories about mothers who are accused of harming, and in some cases killing, their children, children who subsequently harm or kill others and the challenges to professionals who work with them.

    Contributors consider the deeply rooted cycles of neglect and abuse manifested in the childhoods of mothers, who only come to our attention when their extreme distress is expressed through their actions. By recognising the long-standing, unmet dependency needs of abused and neglected women, the book argues that longer term engagement can prevent a seemingly endless repetition of court hearings and imprisonment, and thereby address cycles of neglect.


    With sections on mothers in prison and interventions following child care proceedings, Mothers Accused and Abused will be a valuable resource to those working in the criminal and civil justice systems, social work and mental health as well as others who, in a professional or personal capacity, encounter troubled mothers and their children.

    List of contributors




    Angela Foster



    Setting the scene: Reflections on a ground-breaking book

    1. Mother, madonna, whore: understanding perverse mothering: Reflections on a ground-breaking book
    2. Estela V. Welldon

    3. Caring for the mother and as well as her children
    4. Angela Foster

    5. Mothers and the law: Mythologies and stereotypes - a woman’s lot?
    6. Helena Kennedy


      PART TWO

      The pain of relationships lived and re-lived

    7. Infanticide, matricide or suicide
    8. Carine Minne

    9. Treating violent men: The significance of the mother-son relationship
    10. Celia Taylor

    11. Staff accused and abused: Managing anxiety, pain and distress in systems of care
    12. Angela Foster



      Mothers in prison

    13. Transition to motherhood and becoming a child-less mother in prison
    14. Laura Abbott

    15. Therapy with a mother and baby in prison
    16. Pamela Windham Stewart

    17. Cover stories: Art psychotherapy with mothers in prison who have killed or harmed their children
    18. Jessica Collier



      Interventions following child care proceedings

    19. Last chance saloon: From repetition to growth, a young mother's journey in brief psychotherapy
    20. Fiona Henderson

    21. Better outcomes and better justice: The Family Drug and Alcohol Court
    22. Steve Bambrough, Nicholas Crichton & Sheena Webb

    23. The mother in mind: A therapeutic group for mothers who have had a child removed from their care
    24. Gwen Adshead & Anna Williams

    25. Taking a break: The work of Pause

    Content provided by Pause



    Ways forward

    Ways forward

    Angela Foster, Beate Schumacher & Davina Jhummun


    Glossary of psychoanalytic terms

    Robert D. Hinshelwood




    Angela Foster is a psychiatric social worker, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, supervisor and consultant working with clinical teams and individuals in mental health, forensic, substance misuse and child care services. She has published many papers and co-edited a number of books.

    I found the chapters to be well written and thought provoking. The book would be a helpful read for frontline social workers, and professionals who work alongside such mothers - such as drugs and substance misuse workers.

    Farrukh Akhtar, Journal of Social Work Practice

    This thought-provoking book of essays on mothers who harm, or are accused of harming, their children, will become required reading for professionals seeking to understand what one eminent contributor, Estela Welldon, has famously described as perverse motherhood. Edited by Angela Foster, with contributions from a wide range of experts ranging from the law to psychology, the book describes groundbreaking work across disciplines seeking to support women who have complex needs but are also a risk to their children. The book makes a powerful argument for treating such women, rather than marginalising them, so that the cycle of neglect and harmful mothering can be challenged and finally broken. 

    Katharine Quarmby, Author and Journalist.

    Nothing can be more vital than the mental health of mothers, who, if loved, will nurture their offspring to become law-abiding citizens or, who, if abused, will be at risk of rearing criminals. Angela Foster has curated a magnificent collection of carefully constructed essays, written by leading forensic mental health professionals, who explain not only the causes of maternal violence – often stemming from humiliation and trauma – but, also, the devastating consequences thereof. The contributors provide a veritable blueprint for treatment and, hopefully, for prevention. This book must be read by every serious student of psychology, criminology, feminism, and politics.

    Professor Brett Kahr, Senior Fellow, Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology, London, and Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Centre for Child Mental Health, London, and Series Editor for the Routledge "Forensic Psychotherapy Monograph Series".

    This is an essential collection of powerful papers about women who re-enact trauma and abuse with their children, and the ways in which society fails these women. Angela Foster has skilfully brought together a wealth of information about mothers who abuse and the systems that treat them. This important book offers expert accounts of mothers who inflict serious harm on their children, the intergenerational transmission of violence and perversion and profound insights by clinicians working with mothers and babies in women’s prisons, and within secure health settings.

    Anna Motz, Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Author.