Free Essay on Andrea Yates' Biological Criminal Behavior

Published: 2022-03-31
Free Essay on Andrea Yates' Biological Criminal Behavior
Type of paper:  Case study
Categories:  Criminal law Mental disorder
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1191 words
10 min read

All over the world whenever a crime happens, we think of the reason why the crime occurred. There is plenty of evidence that some of the crimes that are committed are as a result of physiological or genetic issues. Andrea Yates is an example of a case of biological criminal behavior. Andrea Yates battled with the biological effects of Postpartum depression over the years. On 20th June 2001, all her five children drowned in the bathtub in their home. The underlying cause of her reaction and actions was as a result of improper use of the medication and the failure to strictly adhere to the advice given to her by her doctors. The paper shall provide substantial details on the case of Andrea Yates and the physiological evidence that indicate her actions were as a result of the psychiatric issues that include postpartum depression.

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Postpartum depression may take up to the extent of even a year after a child the child has been born for the mother to realize as was the case of Andrea Yates. The signs that manifested in Yates if left untreated may pose a significant challenge on her and also the people around her. A psychopath is an individual who has displays violent behaviors or mental disorder. The type of behavior in Andrea Yates showed her mental instability when she murdered her children. She was not in her right mind, and she suffered postpartum depression when she gave birth to her fifth child. The prison professionals who looked into her issues and the diagnosis discovered she had postpartum depression and insanity.

Genetics played a role in her state of mind and her psychotic behaviors. There is evidence of a history of mental illness in her family that confirms the illness might be in the family bloodline. Yates brother had complications suffered as a result of a bipolar disorder, and her two other siblings also went through similar effects of depression. When Andrea lost his father, she became even more depressed and stopped taking care of herself and her kids. Andrea developed the psychiatric disorder post-partum and began to develop hallucinations about stabbings. It worsened to the extent in which she could even pull her hair. There is genetic evidence that the things that Andrea thought she heard were not real and this was a case of hallucinations (Denno, 2017). In the Andrea Yates case the question as to whether she suffered from genetic mental illness running in the family or was her actions led by post-partum depression the exact answer is both of the issues played a part in what led to the development of her postpartum psychosis.

In the initial stages, she did not recognize the mental illness was a genetic defect in her family and she, therefore, remained untreated and undiagnosed. Yates genetic history of mental illness did not manifest until she bore her first born child. After her first born, she had reported instances of hallucinations and suicidal acts manifested. After she conceived her fourth child, her condition worsened and was advised not to conceive another child because of the severity of her mental state. She was at high risk of developing postpartum psychosis. The condition she was in was very detrimental as it compromised on her ability to make decisions.

Yates went to visit a psychiatrist who diagnosed and treated her depression but because of the shortcomings, for instance, the number of days a patient would stay in the hospital. Andrea Yates was often released even before effectively learning how to deal with her postpartum depression. The psychiatrist commonly prescribed antidepressants and medication to deal with psychosis but she often would not adhere to the prescription by defaulting or not taking. Yates conditions get worse, and the doctor suggests that gets supervised when around the children. The situation gets worse because of her lack of proper treatment of her postpartum depression and her mental state of mind (Cassel & Bernstein, 2013). The biological criminal behavior in her manifested when she got left for just one hour, and she drowned all of her five children in a bathtub in their home.

Yates biological behavior can easily be explained. First, she started to develop psychopathic behaviors when she conceived her fourth child. She was after that admitted to the hospital on five separate occasions. At first, she gets hospitalized on June 18, 1999, to June 24, 1999, and again on July 21, 1999, to August 10, 1999, and this was after she conceived her fourth child. Afterward on March 21, 2001, after the birth of her fifth child from March 31, 2001, to April 10, 2001, and on May 14, 2001, to May 14, 2001. The last instance she got admitted to a psychiatric hospital was on June 20, 2001, which was three weeks before the fateful day she drowned her children.

Second, the biological behavior that led to the criminal act can explain her case of hallucinations. She heard voices that she said emanated from the television stating to her that she was a bad mother and the manner in which she raised her children was inappropriate and sinful. Third, the doctors in their diagnosis found that she suffered from depression and postpartum psychosis. In two separate occasions, Andrea tried to commit suicide, for instance, the first one she tried to overdose pills, and the second she put a knife risking her life by placing it to her throat. Psychopaths have different behavioral characteristics that are dependent their lives for instance delusions, postpartum psychosis and depression that when left unchecked may cause a patient pain and harm to herself or other people.

Psychopathic traits may develop for instance develop as a result of the loss of a loved one or childbirth as was the case for Andrea when she lost her father and after she conceived. She was not in her right sense of mind, and this is what compromised her decision making to the extent of killing her children. The murder of the five children could not happen if she was given keen attention and seeing through to ensure she took her medications. Also, the doctor's recommendation and suggestion that she was not to be left alone with the children was not taken seriously on the fateful day she was with the children alone.

In conclusion, Yates was unaware of her state of mind with regards to her genetic history, and as a result, the doctor warned her not to conceive more children. There were several warnings about her state of mind and her staying with the children. In spite of the warnings for instance delusions, attempted suicide and hallucinations that indicated she needs assistance she still was alone with the children. The tragedy occurred because of negligence and the failure to admit that Andrea had a problem and not acknowledging that she needed help. Postpartum depression is a severe condition that when left unchecked and failure to offer proper support and treatment may lead to heinous crimes as was the case in the Andrea Yates case. Yates unstable state of mind led her to commit the criminal act of drowning her children.


Cassel, E., & Bernstein, D. A. (2013). Criminal behavior. Psychology Press.

Denno, D. W. (2017). Andrea Yates: A Continuing Story About Insanity.

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