Saturday, May 10, 2008

Evil Deeds:Sympathy for the Devil Made Me Do It?

At the time of her infamous crime, Andrea Yates was a devout Christian, devoted wife, and dedicated mother of five biblically named children--Mary, Luke, Paul, John and Noah-- ages 6 months to 7 years old. She had given up her career as a nurse, deciding, with her husband's support, to be a full-time mother and to home-school her children. All seemed to be going fine at first. But after the birth of her first child began her gradual descent into hell.

Andrea became increasingly sad and despondent. The birth of each of her subsequent four children exacerbated her symptoms, and she was eventually diagnosed with postpartum depression. She felt convinced she was a terrible mother, deserving of punishment. "I think the Devil's in me," she confided to her brother. Fearing that her children "weren't developing correctly," she started to have thoughts about killing them to save their mortal souls: "They were not righteous," she felt, and would surely burn in hell if she did not terminate their still young, innocent lives.

Andrea concluded that her murderous thoughts toward her children must be from Satan, that she had been possessed by the devil. She made several suicide attempts in a desperate, instinctive attempt to protect the children from herself. Psychiatric treatment--consisting primarily of various combinations of antidepressant and anti-psychotic drugs with some very brief cognitive therapy-- provided some tenuous stabilization. However, when her father died, her condition deteriorated, resulting in hospitalization and a new diagnosis of schizophrenia.

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Evil Deeds | Psychology Today Blogs

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