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Postpartum Depression and the Insanity Defense:
An Annotated Bibliography
Mandi Moore
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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Manchester, Jessie. "Beyond accommodation: reconstructing the insanity defense to provide an adequate remedy for postpartum psychotic women." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 93.2/3 (2003): 713-52. The prevailing insanity defense test applied across U.S. jurisdictions is extremely narrow and makes proving legal insanity exceptionally difficult for even the most severely postpartum psychotic women. The introduction gives a scenario involving Andrea Yates and the constant problems she dealt with as a sufferer of postpartum psychosis. Also tells some of the laws that are currently in place concerning postpartum depression. Provides the historical background of infanticide and traces the development of postpartum depression research. Analyzes the development of the insanity defense in the U.S. and the original M'Naghten case on which this test was modeled. The status of women in Victorian England and why the original M'Nagten standard is obsolete today is assessed. Finally, explains why the insanity defense test should be broadened and looks at specific postpartum psychotic infanticide cases. The length and terminology of the article indicate that it is at an expert knowledge level.

Michalopoulos, Christine. "Filling n the Holes of the Insanity Defense: The Andrea Yates Case and the Need for a New Prong." Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law Association 10 (2003). National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Oklahoma State University Library. Article 383. 13 Oct. 2004 <http://campus.westlaw.com/result/documenttext.aspx?MT=Westlaw&RS;>. Intended to fill a hole that is present in the current insanity standards and the ways in which courts have interpreted them. This void became clear upon the failure to find Andrea Yates not guilty by reason of insanity. The insanity defense has always been the subject of great debate in both legal and non-legal circles. This controversy can be linked to the continuing skepticism exhibited towards the truth and accuracy of mental disorders, and the extent to which the law should recognize an inexact science-the diagnosis of mental illness-as an excuse for a person's conduct. Along with the Yates case, current insanity standards and their application to the Yates case, the need of an additional insanity prong, and the application of the new prong in other insanity cases are discussed. Written for an educated audience, but the terminology is not too difficult to understand.

Morse, Steven J. "Retaining a Modified Insanity Defense." The Annals: of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. Moran, Richard, Alan W. Heston, Richard D. Lambert, and Erica Ginsburg eds. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1985. 137-47. Retaining the insanity defense will not compromise public safety, not will abolishing it lead to the remedying of associated social problems such as the substandard mental health care in jails and prisons. Meant to demonstrate that retention of the insanity defense is morally necessary and that most of its admitted problems can be remedied by sensible reforms. The basic moral issue is whether it is just to hold responsible and punish a person who was terribly crazy at the time of the offense. Children are not thought guilty for the harms they cause precisely because they lack these capacities. They may be restrained and trained to avoid causing similar harm in the future, but they are not considered culpable as fully responsible moral agents. Provides beneficial support for someone who believes mentally ill people should not be held completely responsible for their actions.

Nonacs, Ruta. "Postpartum Mood Disorders: Diagnosis and Treatment Considerations." Women's Health and Psychiatry. Perason, K.H., S.B. Sonawalla, and J.F. Rosenbaum eds. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002. 127-36. Although postpartum psychiatric illness was initially conceptualized as a group of disorders specifically related to childbirth, and therefore were considered diagnostically distinct from other types of psychiatric illness, more recent evidence suggest that affective illness that occurs during the postpartum period is clinically indistinguishable from affective illness occurring at other times during a woman's life. Postpartum psychiatric illness is divided into three categories, ranked consecutively in order of less to more severe: postpartum blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis. A brief overview of each level is provided as well as current data on risk factors for postpartum psychiatric illness and behavioral sensitivity to reproductive hormones. Treatment implications for each level are also presented. This would informative for anyone concerned about suffering from any level postpartum psychiatric illness.

Paquette, Mary. "This is Insane!" Perspectives in Psychiatric Care 38.3 (2002): 77-78. When convicting someone who claims to suffer from mental illness, there are two problems. First is the problem with the meaning of the word insanity, and second, what that conviction means to the jurors. Insanity is a legal term with a very narrow definition and courts need to give different instruction to juries regarding the consequences of finding a person not guilty for reasons of insanity. The public needs to be educated about the nature of psychosis and mental illness. Beneficial to someone who wants to better understand what can be done to prevent, what the author refers to as, injustice. The article was easy to read and was not meant for experts.

Roberts, Dorothy E. "Foreword: The Meaning of Gender Equality in Criminal Law." The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 85.1 (1994): 1-14. Foreword of a Symposium that reflects a growing interest in the criminal law's treatment of women, both as victims and as offenders. Feminists legal scholars are examining the punishment of female lawbreakers as another site of gender inequality. Provides insight on the influence of race and class. The most striking fact about female offending is its relative infrequency and lack of violence compared to male crimes. Americans have a tendency to ascribe women's problems to illnesses. Female defendants may be forced to portray themselves as ill or insane, because the law does not recognize the stifling social conditions that contributed to their criminal acts. The article was not hard to understand and gives a very good overview of many aspects of gender differentiation in the legal system.

Slobogin, Christopher. "The Integrationist Alternative to the Insanity Defense: Reflections on the Exculpatory Scope of Mental Illness in the Wake of the Andrea Yates Trial." American Journal of Criminal Law 30.3 (2003): 315-41. Based on a talk given at a conference entitled "The Affirmative Defense of Insanity in Texas," which took place in the wake of the Yates trial. Gives a legal perspective on the Yates case. Definitions of insanity from different time periods are displayed. A history of the M'Naghten case dealing with insanity and alternatives to the M'Nagten compose most of the article. One example of an alternative is the use of cognitive tests to determine insanity. Goes on the also give pros and cons of the alternative methods. Although informative, expert knowledge of legal terminology and a background in alternative methods of establishing insanity would be crucial in thoroughly understanding the majority of the essay.

Spinelli, Margaret, G. "Maternal Infanticide Associated with Mental Illness: Prevention and the Promise of Saved Lives." American Journal of Psychiatry 161.9 (2004). Factiva. Oklahoma State University Library. Article 1548. 6 Oct. 2004 <http://global.factiva.com/en/arch/print_results.asp>. The psychiatric community should develop guidelines for the treatment of postpartum disorders, foster sharing of knowledge between psychiatry and the law, and do more to inform society about the effects of mental illness on thought and behavior. Decisions about the treatment and punishment of mentally ill persons would not be left exclusively in the hands of the judicial system if society was more informed. Although maternal infanticide is a rare event, a high proportion of cases occur in the context of postpartum mental illness. Historical, legislative, and contemporary psychiatric perspectives on infanticide are reviewed. Also discussed are ways in which the psychiatric community can improve prevention of infanticide and promote appropriate treatment of mentally ill women who commit infanticide. This article is easy to read for the most part, but there was some terminology that could have been explained better.

Waldron, Kimberly. "Postpartum Psychosis as an Insanity Defense: Underneath a Controversial Defense Lies a Garden Variety Insanity Defense Complicated by Unique Circumstances for Recognizing Culpability in Causing." Rutgers Law Journal 21 (1990). National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Oklahoma State University Library. Article 669. 13 Oct. 2004 <http://campus.westlaw.com/result/documenttext.aspx>. The main focus is efficacy of postpartum psychosis as the basis of an insanity defense and the application of such a defense. Postpartum psychosis is receiving increased attention in current literature since it has appeared more frequently as a defense to criminal activity. Further, in the past five years, the defense was pleaded in at least eighteen cases in which mothers harmed or killed their babies while allegedly suffering from postpartum psychosis. To help understand these problems in a legal context, a discussion of the alleged causes of postpartum psychosis is included first. Goes on to present symptoms and then analyzes recent cases that involved postpartum psychosis and their rulings. Not a difficult article to read, but some knowledge of the subject might be beneficial to understanding it wholly.

"The Insanity Defense." 2003. American Psychiatric Association. 13 Oct. 2004 <http://www.psych.org/public_info/insanity.cfm>. Offers answers to questions about the insanity defense from a legal and psychiatric point of view. Being found not guilty by reason of insanity does not mean the person did not commit the criminal act. It simply means that when the person committed the crime, he or she could not tell right from wrong and could not control his or her behavior because of severe mental defect or illness. The insanity defense is not often used and is often unsuccessful when it is. The insanity defense is used in defending against many charges, not just murder. The case of John Hinckley, the man who shot President Reagan to impress the actress Jody Foster, caused many states and Congress to seek ways to restrict use of the defense. Provides factual informative answers to common questions asked by people who are not experts.

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