Andrea Yates, mother of five was convicted of drowning her children in the bathtub in 2001 in her Texas home. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She reportedly suffered from a history of mental illness.
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Until the birth of her children, Andrea seemed to lead a normal and illness-free life. Later on, however, she developed post-partum depression and was found on several occasions causing bodily harm. Andrea tried to kill herself once by overdosing on anti-depressants and other pills.
Another time, her husband, Rusty Yates found her attempting suicide with a knife held against her throat. She was then admitted into the hospital, but was released soon after. Her doctors reported that Andrea was better; she was prescribed anti-psychotics.
A few years later, she had a nervous breakdown and again tried to kill herself twice. She required hospitalization and was eventually diagnosed with post-partum psychosis.
Andrea Yates's behavior was a great indication of a greater mental problem. From the small things as biting her fingers to several suicide attempts, Yates was inclined to eventually commit harm to either herself or those around her.
According to reports, Yates had sought professional help; she was seeing a psychiatrist for a period of time, who incidentally advised against the couple having a fifth child. For someone undergoing so much psychological suffering, she received minimal therapeutic assistance. She was taking anti-depressants at one point as well as anti-psychotics (separately). It is claimed that the mixture of anti-psychotic drugs prescribed to Andrea by her doctor caused her actions.
Andrea Yates was trialed in Texas and was first found guilty. She was sentenced to forty years of imprisonment. She was found guilty because in Texan court, it must be proven that the defendant could not tell between right and wrong. Because that was not possible, she was found guilty.
Later, however, she was found not guilty by insanity and was admitted to a mental health treatment facility.
Because of the graphic nature of Andrea Yates's case, it may appear to many that she supposedly got off easy for such heinous crimes. However, upon further thought, it becomes clear that her case was a severe one. Her history of mental illnesses and the way it was dealt with clarifies the picture.
I would go so far as to take Yates' story as a lesson for psychology. This is a case where preventative medicine could have been the due diligence needed to avoid Yates's eventual actions against her own children.
By preventative medicine, I refer to actual psychological analysis of the situation and perhaps even admitting her into a mental health facility longer. No one can truly tell, but it might have been prevented if different and more substantial measures had been taken with Andrea's mental health before it deteriorated. The not guilty by insanity judgment is merely a label; the guilt will probably still remain within her psyche. More than incarceration, she needs medical help, which she is currently receiving.
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