Family murder in post-apartheid South Africa: reflections for mental health professionals

  • MC Marchetti-Mercer

Abstract

In the late eighties the phenomenon of family murder was closely linked to Afrikaans-speaking families faced with political change and uncertainty. A large study carried out by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) at the time disputed this overly simplistic explanation and proposed a complex interplay of interpersonal and intrapsychic factors reflecting a phenomenon which took place under all population groups. Recent cases of family murder reported in the media have once again posed serious questions regarding possible etiological explanations for this phenomenon in post-apartheid South Africa. In this article the reviews the original HSRC findings as well as exploring social and psychological factors, which may be relevant in present day South Africa. A social constructionist perspective is used as a theoretical framework for understanding the wider context of this type of violence. In conclusion possible interventions, which move beyond the simplistic but focus rather on the social responsibility of mental health professionals are proposed.

In die laat 1980s het die opvatting ontstaan dat daar 'n noue verband bestaan tussen gesinsmoord en Afrikaansprekende gesinne wat met politieke veranderinge en onsekerheid gekonfronteer word. 'n Omvattende studie wat op dié stadium deur die Raad vir Geesteswetenskaplike Navorsing (RGN) uitgevoer was, het hierdie oorsimplistiese standpunt bevraagteken. 'n Komplekse wisselwerking tussen interpersoonlike en intrapsigiese faktore, as 'n refleksie van 'n verskynsel wat onder alle bevolkingsgroepe voorkom, is as alternatief voorgestel. Onlangse gevalle van gesinsmoord wat in die media geraporteer is, het opnuut ernstige vrae oor moontlike etiologiese verklarings vir hierdie verskynsel in post-apartheid Suid-Afrika na vore gebring. Die skrywer neem in hierdie artikel opnuut die oorspronklike RGN-bevindinge in oënskou, terwyl sosiale en sielkundige faktore in post-apartheid Suid-Afrika, wat ook 'n impak hierop kan hê, ondersoek word. 'n Sosiaal-konstruksionistiese perspektief is as teoretiese raamwerk vir 'n beter begrip van die breër konteks van hierdie tipe geweld gebruik. Ten slotte word moontlike intervensies voorgestel wat verder as simplistiese verklarings kyk, en eerder op die sosiale verantwoordelikeheid van geestesgesondheidswerkers fokus.

Key words: Family murder, Family violence, Violent crime, Mental health care, Psychological services

(Health SA Gesondheid: 2003 8(2): 83-91)
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848