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Postpartum Psychosis Essay

4921 words - 20 pages

Postpartum Psychosis
Motherhood the Sad, the Mad, and the Insane

Laurie Hackney

Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice
Dr. Connolly
March 21, 2011
Postpartum Psychosis
Motherhood the Sad, the Mad, and the Insane
On the heartbreaking morning of June 20, 2001, Andrea Pia Yates was arrested and charged for the filicide of her children. One by one, this seemingly devoted mother of five drowned all of her children in the bathtub of their family home. Singularly, she put her three youngest children to death, taking their bodies from the tub fully clothed and wet, then placed them upon their bed, and covered them up. She proceeding doing the same with her youngest child, but while she was ...view middle of the document...

They were told this was a hypocritical Christian lifestyle ensuring their children’s fate to hell. However, Andrea’s husband and preacher denied this as having anything to do with her psychosis.
Andrea Yates also suffered documented mental illness since the birth of her fourth child. She had been under psychiatric care since July of 1999, resulting from an attempted suicide in June of the same year. She was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder. In early 2000, Yates became pregnant again at her husband’s urging. She appeared to be steady while taking medication until her fathers’ death plunged her depression into a further state. She was forced into treatment by her husband and administered psychotropic drugs. Dr. Saeed, her attending physician since diagnosis, abruptly tapered her off the anti psychotic Haldol, then on June 18, 2001, two weeks later, he increased her dosage of Effexor, and told her to think happy thoughts. Two days later she pleaded with her husband Russell not to leave her alone with the children, when he left for work as usual, the tragic incident previously mentioned occurred. Andrea herself called her husband and the police to report what she had done.
In 2002, Andrea Yates was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole after forty years. Then in July of 2006, a Texas jury found that she was not guilty by reason of insanity. Her previous conviction was overturned and she was sentenced to a mental health facility instead. Consequently, her roommate at this facility Dena Schlosser was also convicted of filicide against her baby girl.
The term postpartum depression is a common misconception, but what Andrea Yates actually suffered from was postpartum psychosis. Many people passed judgment on Mrs. Yates without realizing the seriousness of postpartum psychosis. Women that suffer this disorder and kill their children are 50% likely to then commit suicide. This case gained an enormous amount of media attention pertaining to the current standard of testing for insanity. There are a number of different standards used to determine insanity and Andrea Yates was convicted using the Mc Naghten rule. Using this test as a guideline, prosecutors only have to prove that you knew right from wrong at the time of your actions. It’s been stated through numerous articles that the women who commit filicide hide behind mental illness to escape prosecution.
Impending motherhood for most women is a joyous occasion, a time to celebrate, and to spread the news to family and friends. Many first time moms find this an exhilarating process from conception to the actual birth. They experience new sensations from the flutters in womb to the baby kicking. The excitement of picking out baby furniture to picking out baby clothes is ever present. Yet, for many mothers this is not the case. They may start out ecstatic, but once the baby is born happiness is...

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