I read an online article about the former

  1. R.N., Andrea Yates, whose trial is going on now in Houston. She drowned her five small children. Seems she suffered from severe--psychotic--post-partum depression. Are any of you hearing anything about this? What's your opinions?
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  3. by   Mary Dover
    From a psych nurse perspective, there's no way I could even speculate without knowing more history, But from a human (as well as a mother) perspective, I just have to wonder how even a psychotically depressed woman could take the time to methodically drown her own children one by one, likely with each one putting up some kind of struggle, without 'right vs wrong' DAWNING on her at some point.
    Also I have to wonder where her husband's brain was, I mean if she had a history psychosis/depression, how could he not be aware, at least on some level, that MAYBE she was DECOMPENSATING, and shouldn't be left alone to be responsible for those children. In my experience, I haven't seen that such extreme violence happens that quickly, that impulsively, without some warning signs.
    Last edit by Mary Dover on Feb 28, '02
  4. by   NurseDennie
    I agree, Mary Dover, and I'm not even a psych nurse. There were apparently a LOT of warning signs. I heard on the radio that she'd attempted suicide at least two times, and that her husband had tried to have her committed before she killed the kids. I'm not sure if the attempted committal was soon before the deaths. But he obviously knew she was deeply disturbed!

    There must be something fairly heinously wrong with the hubby, as well. He knew that she was off the Haldol, which they said that worked. He knew that the doctors had recommended that she not have any more kids, but they decided to have another one anyway, because they thought she was "cured"????????

    I'd also heard, earlier, that one of the older boys came into the bathroom when she was drowning one child and he ran away from her and she chased him down and killed him.

    I had *not* heard that she was a former RN!!! Wow.


  5. by   Mary Dover
    I might have heard that she was an RN but I had forgotten that.
    I am WAY interested in forensic psychiatry, and would just love to have access to ALL her records. But if it turns out that she was that "insane", I honestly believe the husbands responsibilty (albeit indirect) should be looked at more closely. People are just too quick to point fingers at (even psychiatric) healthcare providers to displace the blame.
  6. by   pattyjo
    I have been following this since it happened last year. As a psych nurse, I have a professional interest in it, but actually most of what I feel is a profound sadness. There have been numerous articles about her life, her family, and her medical/psych history. A tragedy waiting to happen. On meds, off meds; warned against having more kids, had more kids; in hospitals and out. Lost her dad to Alzheimer's. I believe it was after this that she first attempted suicide. Lots about her husband and his role in this, knowing they had been advised against more children. Did you know that besides the awesome responsibility of having 5 kids younger than 8 years old, she was also homeschooling? What a tortured woman; and those precious children.

    One of the psychiatrists who interviewed her said she was one of the 5 sickest patients she had ever seen. It will be interesting to follow the outcome of this: the prosecutor has talked about the death penalty if convicted. She has pled not guilty by reason of insanity. Hard to argue against that. So very very sad.

  7. by   NurseDennie
    It seems to me that the death penalty would almost be a mercy, don't you think? Can you imagine if you got back on meds after having a psychotic episode like that and then trying to live with that knowledge?????????


  8. by   ArleneG
    I can't imagine executing someone so obviously sick. I saw on CNN they were saying it would be better if our legal system had another plea available- instead of Not guilty by reason of insanity since she is obviously guilty. They were saying, and I agree, that there should be an option of Guilty, but insane. The insurance company who would not cover her continued hospitalization should also share some guilt in this.
  9. by   Aerolizing
    I have worked with a few post partum psychotic women. With each and everyone of them, we had family meetings. In those family meetings we could not stress enough that the patient was never to be alone with the baby. There was always to be a family member present. We often arranged for the baby to stay with a family member and let the patient visit so she could bond. These instructions were also written on discharge instruction sheets which the patients sign. I think her husband should be legally responsible. He should be at the very least facing five counts of child endangering. He was aware of the risk and choose to go to work leaving his sick wife to take care of five children. It is a very sad case.
  10. by   NurseDennie
    I heard just a little bit more when I went through a room where the TV was on, but I'm afraid I didn't have time to stay and listen to the whole thing. Apparently a friend of hers had been keeping a journal of how badly things were going, and had advised her friend NOT to have any more children with a man who didn't help around the house and didn't help at all with the children.


    Okay, admittedly, I'm going off here without hard facts, but when has that ever stopped me? This really looks like he's a HUGE JERK. Five kids, NO help around the house, she was Home-schooling the kids. He probably felt something along the lines of well, he's the only breadwinner, then he should be able to come home and be waited on hand and foot!!!

    I personally think maybe that's why he's defending her so much right now - he has to feel guilty. What a horrible, horrible tragedy.


  11. by   pattyjo
    Time had a lengthy aricle on this case, printed prior to the start of the trial I believe.

    As I read through this article, knowing the ultimate tragedy that was coming, I felt sick realizing the numerous missed opportunities to intervene in this case. Following the deaths last year, we saw an increase in the number of women worried that they might have post partum depression/psychosis and worried that they might harm their own children. It was a very scary time for all. And you sure don't want to get me started on insurance companies and their unrealistic limits on hospital stays.

    As we have all said here, so very very sad.