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Husband of Andrea Yates Really Should Have Been Smart Enough to Avert That Tragedy

September 10, 2001

The more I read about the case of Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children, the more I think the husband shoulders blame for not averting the tragedy.

These are the warning signs he had available to him, as reported in The New York Times:

  • his wife's suicide attempt in June, 1999, about 6 months after the birth of her fourth child
    • diagnosis: post-partum psychosis and depression
  • signs of stress from having to take care of her father, who had Alzheimer's disease
  • less than a month later, the husband finds her holding a knife to her neck
    • she describes hearing voices
    • she says she had a vision about getting the knife
    • she says she first had such a vision after the birth of her first child
    • she had stopped taking her medicine
  • the birth of the couple's fifth child, and also possibly the death of her father, cause additional episodes of depression and psychosis:
    • between March and May she spends four stints at a psychiatric hospital
    • at one point her physician seeks involuntary commitment because she is catatonic and has scratched bald spots into her head

Even without knowing anything further, this is not the type of person a rational person would leave five young children with.  But the husband's contribution to the tragedy is more causative than just ignoring warning signs:

  • the husband, described as "controlling" by one doctor, allows her only "two hours of personal time a week"
  • after the birth of their fourth child and his wife's two suicide attempts, he doesn't change the decision with his now obviously mentally ill wife to have as many babies as nature will allow
  • despite his wife's mental problems, the husband doesn't have them change their plans to home school their children
  • the decisions to have more children and to home school the children come despite their psychologist's warning that these courses of action would not be in Mrs. Yates' best interest
  • at one point during her hospitalizations, the husband puts pressure on her to leave the hospital, claiming that she was 90-95% normal, while she reports 70-75%
  • he allows her to be discharged from the hospital for the last time prior to her murdering her children, even though records indicate that at the time she is still depressed and suicidal

A rationally thinking man would not have additional children with a wife who is obviously incapable of caring for even the four they already have.  A rationally thinking man would not foist the home-schooling of five children on a woman like Andrea Yates.  A rationally thinking man would not leave five young children alone with her.

The severely mentally incapacitated state of Andrea Yates meant that decision-making fell by default to her husband, and he made some egregiously bad ones.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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