Fact Checked

What is Matricide?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Matricide occurs when one or more children kill their mother. Matricide occurs in stories and films for dramatic effect, and it has occurred throughout the history of the world in real-life situations as well. It is usually treated as murder in court systems around the world and does not generally carry extra penalties because of the relation of the killer and the victim, though this is not the case throughout the entire world. It is a rare crime, and tends to garner a significant amount of attention when it does occur.

Homicide is the act of killing a person, and several types exist aside from matricide: patricide is the killing of one's father; fratricide occurs when a brother is killed, and sororicide occurs when a sister is killed. Suicide is one of the more common types of killing, and it occurs when a person kills himself. Motives for committing such acts vary from case to case, and in many cases a motive is never determined. More than one type of murder can occur at once as well; a matricide and a patricide can occur at the same time, for example, if both parents are killed.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

In some cases, matricide occurs after a child has endured some sort of abuse or abusive behavior from the mother. In other cases, the motive is religious or moral. A child might hill his mother, for example, if the mother is having an affair, or otherwise committing some act the child finds to be sinful or unacceptable. In other cases, the child may be mentally unstable and commit murder due to insanity; the murder may or may not be provoked at all.

The act of matricide is common in fiction and film because of its dramatic nature. Many writings throughout history have told stories of matricide for various reasons, from shock value to morality lessons. Films have been made that focus on the murder of a mother and repercussions of that act; very often such an act garners high interest because of its rarity, and its place in entertainment often leads to its sensationalism. Occurrences of such murders have occurred throughout history; one of the most famous instances of the murder of a mother include the murder of Cleopatra III by her son, who suspected her of conspiracy.

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Discussion Comments


I actually think that some kind of past grievance or trauma about the mother may be the cause. I think that some children, when they are mistreated by parents, internalize it and hold on to it as a trauma. Later on in life, they may seek revenge from that parent for all the distress they had caused the child previously.

Obviously, I'm not saying this as a sort of justification, absolutely not. But I don't think that someone who loves and cares for a mother could harm her.


@burcinc-- I agree. I think that in real life, matricide occurs as a result of temporary or complete insanity. And I think that it's often not the only murder committed by that person.

For example, I've heard many accounts of people killing their entire families for one reason or another. It's a sort of killing spree and they may kill whoever is at home at the time, including their parents, wife, husband or children. Some men have done this as a result of depression and temporary insanity due to jealousy or financial problems. It's very sad but unfortunately, it happens.


I read about a case of matricide occurring in another country recently. Although this individual was claimed to have a mental imbalance, police identified the motive as money. Apparently, the adult child killed the elderly mother in order to receive her pension. It's just awful. Even if the motive is money, I do believe that someone would have to have a mental imbalance in order to do something as horrible as this.

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