Transcript

 

LINDA VESTER: It's a story that's hard to forget. A Texas mother charged with intentionally drowning her five children. Andrea Yates will soon be heading to court, her arraignment scheduled for this Wednesday.

Her lawyer blames postpartum depression, and says he'll plead not guilty by reason of insanity. But could postpartum depression really explain a mother who kills her own kids? Here to explain, clinical psychologist and author of A Mother's Tears: Understanding the Mood Swings that Follow Childbirth, Arlene Huysman. Thank you very much for being with us … A question about this plea that we are told that we will see here: not guilty by reason of insanity. So many viewers wrote in angrily … what do you think?

>> Well, I know people feel that way because they don't understand a mother hurting their only children and it's very, very against the mother's ego to do that. The only reason that a mother does anything like that to her child or children is because she is sick. She has lost her ability to have any judgement or touch with reality.

LINDA VESTER: Well as we look at Andrea Yates, do you think that she fits that profile or is she just making an excuse?

>> No she fits the profile of many of the cases I have interviewed. She was ill before she gave birth and had a postpartum depression that was documented with her fourth child. She was in the hospital and under medication and taking anti-psychotic medication, which I understood was removed right before this deed happened.

LINDA VESTER: Right. They were trying to change her medications. Whether or not that played a role is unclear. You actually have your own experience in the case of your mother. Can you explain what happened?

>> My mother had a severe postpartum depression after giving birth to me. She came back to an apartment she hardly knew, and without understanding what was happening to here, she put towels around the doors and windows and turned on the gas and that that's where they found us. I'm lucky to be here, but my mother did suffer postpartum depression and have a series of depressions afterward.

LINDA VESTER: After the fact did she ever come to and say what was I thinking?

>> Of course, when people are not in psychosis they are usually intelligent, as Mrs. Yates was. She was home schooling her children. The whole thing is a dichotomy and you must believe in an insanity plea for certain people who are insane. This woman is documented and certifiably insane during the time she committed these crimes.

LINDA VESTER: Is there any medication or treatment that really works for postpartum depression?

>> … There are a lot of medications in the case of Mrs. Yates. She was already psychotic. Sometimes shock treatments in the hospital.

>> There is a segment of … women who are predisposed or susceptible to postpartum depression and that is what the book is about. The people that can document themselves, whether they are a candidate for postpartum depression. They can be treated immediately and never have a postpartum depression.

>> Just quickly about the Yates children. If it was already documented and known there was medication, and she had already had a suicide attempt, should authorities not have left the children with her? Should they have already taken the children away?

>> That's one line of defense … I would question why her husband left her alone when he knew how ill she was, and alone all day with the children. When I treat a patient, I insist they have someone with them and the child or the children until they are well.

>> Arlene Huysman. A Mothers Tears. We thank you very much for being with us.

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