Postpartum Depression and Crime: The Case of Andrea Yates Essay

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On July 27, 2006, the New York Times published an article on the findings of the retrial of Andrea Yates and her not guilty due to insanity over the drowning deaths of her five children. (Woman Not Guilty, 2006). The court decided to commit her to a state mental hospital until medical experts decide she is not a threat to herself or anyone else. In 2002, an earlier jury rejected her claims she was psychotic and found her guilty. Yates alleged by murdering her children she actually saved them. (Woman Not Guilty, 2006). The appeals court overturned the decision because of “erroneous testimony from a prosecution witness.” (Woman Not Guilty, 2006). Yate’s lead lawyer, George Parnham, remarked that the verdict was a “watershed for mental…show more content…
The onset of this illness is very quick and “symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, mood swings, confused thinking, and disorganized behavior.” (McGarth, p. 3). However, this article did not mention a concern relating to violence. In The Conflicted Treatment of Postpartum Psychosis Under Criminal Law, Christie L. March wrote that although the illness may “impair a woman’s mental stability while not rising to the level of an irresistible impulse, thereby not meeting a volitional test should it apply and still not meeting the cognitive test required under most states to qualify as an insanity defense. Nearly all postpartum psychosis sufferers understand the moral wrongness of killing their child(ren). “(p. 255). Although, March did mention generally there is no doubt about the mental instability of mothers who murder their children while suffering from postpartum psychosis or depression. Current research is undecided on the link between psychosis and increased criminal behavior in the population. Illness and Association with the Crime The case of Andrea Yates raised numerous questions and debates in relation to mental health, postpartum psychosis, and the amount of responsibility Yates played in the murder of her children. After the first trial of Yates, as mentioned through Laura March’s Article, the four jurors interviewed mentioned Yates’ confession

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