The Sad Case of Andrea Yates Pamela Elliott Abnormal Psychology Instructor: Doctor Erica King October 13, 2011 The case of Andrea Yates is unmistakenly horrifying. For most of society trying to comprehend how a mother could drown five, count them five of her own children is impossible. Our society does not care about mental illness when they find out through court testimony that the mother chased around the house her last and oldest child in order to get him into the same bathtub she had just drowned his four other siblings in.
According to court testimony he came up for air several times trying to tell her he was sorry for whatever he did. The other children died with clumps of her hair in their hands in an effort to save their lives. I agree it is horrifying, but the verdict on appeal in 2004 (the murders were committed in 2001) that turned her life sentence around to not guilty by reason of insanity is one of the first cases I have heard of in Texas that any defense attorney managed to finagle out of a jury and I think it is humane and fair.
It has been a long time coming in the history of the Texas court system and the reasoning of the majority vote in America to embrace the death penalty and/or life imprisonment. Andrea Yates suffered from a severe case of post-partum depression and the actions of her husband in the face of it all is highly questionable. One wonders how sane he is, or how uneducated. Regardless of her strange behavior and the fact that her husband was told that she was suffering from post-partum depression after the birth of the their first child he continued to impregnate her four more times. This should be a crime within itself.
Andrea Yates suffered with mental illness before she ever had children. She thought the only way to save her children from the hell they were ready to suffer was to kill them. Not only have I read this through the accounts in the references named but I have first hand experience with a sister who went into psychosis. She did not speak to her children for two weeks because she thought Satan was trying to communicate with her through them. At the first reading of the Yates case the first thing I noticed is that her first son was named Noah with the rest of the children named John, Paul, Luke and Mary .
This did not surprise me as my sister also had religious fanaticism through her mental illness, until she finally turned agnostic. According to one account Andrea Yate was not only a victim of an over zealous husband who wanted more and more children to stuff into the makeshift bus they lived in, but she was also a victim of an attempted suicide who did not get the quality medical care she so obviously needed, perhaps this was due to a low income and lack of medical health coverage, it does not say.
O’Malley argues that “psychosis with manic features, combined with medical mismanagement, stressful circumstances, and religious obsessions masking delusions, resulted in the tragedy. Her reading of the health records presents Andrea Yates’s treatment as a litany of misdiagnoses, poor treatment, wrong medications, and the role of the health insurance company rather than the clinician as the key decision maker in care. Nonetheless, despite being fragmented and confusing, the medical records documented that Andrea Yates suffered serious psychotic illness and delusions before and after she drowned her children”. O’Malley 2004 pp. 281 quoted by South Florida Sun) One question presented was how valid are taped interviews? It is presented that Andrea may have been seeking clues as what to say or not to say “in her aloneness with the terror of psychosis, with her delusions masking guilt and grief over her abhorrent deed and unimaginable loss, might she not seek nonverbal cues and guidance for how to maintain connection? ” ( Zolovska B. , & Bursztajn, H. J. 2005). The obvious answer to this question is no way.
Andrea by this time was so stressed out, tired, abused by the staff and inmates in jail, that it is hard to imagine that on top of a mental illness coupled with all the other, she would not have the capacity to “seek clues”. The notion is ridiculous. The upside to all of this and perhaps it is providential, who knows is that as a result of the sad case of Andrea Yates a U. S. Organisation formed to further explore the implications of the potential devastation post-partum depression can have on a person and a family.
For this Andrea Yates can be remembered as contributing to the salvation of many others whose illness may be diagnosed in time to save the lives of their own children. References Yates Verdict Issue: A jury finds Andrea Yates Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity for Drowning her Kids :[Broward Metro Edition]. (2006, August 6). South Florida Sun – Sentinel,p. 4H. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from Sun Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale). (Document ID: 1089855771). Zolovska B. , & Bursztajn, H. J. (2005). “Are you therealone? The unspeakable crime of Andrea YatesThe American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(4), 821-822. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from ProQuest Health and Medical Complete. (Document ID: 825414161). Caren, M. (2006, August 3). Yates might be insane, but she is still guilty. Columbia Daily Tribune, Retrieved October 13, 2011, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1088521391). Charatan, F. & Eaton, L. (2002). Woman may face death penalty in postnatal depression case. British Medical Journal, 324(7338), 634. Retrieved October 14, 2011, from ProQuest Health and Medical Complete. (Document ID: 113049818).