Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Schizophrenogenic Mother

  • Mary V. SeemanEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_482


The term “schizophrenogenic mother” is a negative stereotype found in the psychiatric literature of the 1950s through to the 1970s. It refers to mothers of individuals who develop schizophrenia, the implication being that the mother has induced the illness (Hartwell 1996). Frieda Fromm-Reichmann is generally credited with coining the term in 1948, when she wrote that “the schizophrenic is painfully distrustful and resentful of other people, due to the severe early warp and rejection he encountered in important people of his infancy and childhood, as a rule, mainly in a schizophrenogenic mother” (Fromm-Reichman 1948). Three authors most identified with the maternal causation theory of schizophrenia are Bateson, Lidz, and Wynne (Bateson et al. 1956; Lidz et al. 1957; Wynne 1981). The context of the theory was the belief that early mother-child interactions exerted a primary and determining effect on later psychopathology. The Nazi atrocities of World War II (1939–1945) had...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mudita Rastogi
    • 1
  1. 1.Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Argosy UniversitySchaumburgUSA