Monday, August 16, 2010

Andrea Yates

A story in the news today about a woman suspected of drowning her own kids, and the hateful comments from readers, reminded me of the Andrea Yates story. She drowned her 5 young children in 2001, and had comments sections been widespread on Internet news sites, I shudder to think of what people may have posted.

As it turns out, and as often happens, the media missed the real shocker behind the case: her husband was at least as much to blame as, and in some ways more so than, she was.

Andrea had already been committed more than once for postpartum psychosis, and her psychiatrist noted, before she had her last child:

"Apparently patient and husband plan to have as many babies as nature will allow! This will surely guarantee future psychotic depression."

Wikipedia then notes:

Andrea revealed to her jail psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Ferguson, that prior to their last child, "she had told Rusty that she did not want to have sex because Dr. Starbranch had said she might hurt her children." Russell, she said, simply asserted his procreative religious beliefs, complimented her as a good mother, and persuaded her that she could handle more children.
Author Susan O'Malley goes on to explain:

"During the trial, he'd successfully maintained the position that Andrea would be found innocent. He had fantasies of having more children with her after she was successfully treated in a mental health facility and released on the proper medication. He worked his way through various fixes for their damaged lives, such as a surrogate motherhood and adoption (horrifying Andrea's family, attorneys and Houston psychiatrists) before giving in to reality."
So, tell you what, all you wonderful armchair life-livers: feel free to judge once you've tried on a pair of those shoes. Me, I'm gonna count my mental health blessings.