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Child Abuse Negl. 1987;11(3):397-407.

Incarcerated mothers' perceptions and interpretations of their fatally maltreated children.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106.


Fatally maltreated children are an elusive component in the complex interaction that has led to their premature deaths. Retrospective research with women imprisoned for fatal child maltreatment indicated recurring themes of maternal interpretations of their children as rejecting and developmentally abnormal, either advanced or delayed. Separations and difficulties during reunions were critical. The fatality was not a one-time event, but the exit point of a recurrent cycle of abusive interaction.

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