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The Case of Andrea Yates

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					                                                                      Due Date: May 4, 2009


The Case of Andrea Yates

Presenting the familiar case of Andrea Yates will not only stimulate students’ interest but
will also help you to introduce psychology’s complementary perspectives. Perhaps most
importantly, it will help you demonstrate the complexity and multiple causes of behavior.
On June 20, 2001, after her husband had left for work, Andrea Yates, a Houston mother,
drowned her five children in the family bathtub. She told police that she drowned the
children to save them from burning in hell. A jury rejected her insanity defense, and she
was sentenced to serve life at a psychiatric prison. In January 2005, a Texas Appeals
Court overturned her conviction because a psychiatrist for the prosecution had falsely
testified that he had consulted for a Law and Order episode. The Appeals Court stated
that the false testimony may have contributed to the jury’s rejection of Yates’ insanity
defense. Prosecutors declined to discuss whether Yates would be retried. Her defense
attorney said that he would not seek her immediate release because she is receiving
“excellent mental health care.”

Answer the following questions to explain what you believe to be the causes of
Andrea Yates’ murder of her children? Use the back side of this page to help
answer the questions

       How would you explain Andrea Yates’ behavior from a cognitive perspective?
       (private mental functioning)

       How would you explain Andrea Yates’ behavior from a biological perspective?
       (neuroscience and behavior genetics perspectives)

       How would you explain Andrea Yates’ behavior from a behavioral
       perspectives? (behaviors that were reinforced, punished etc. )

       How would you explain Andrea Yates’ behavior from a psychoanalytic
       perspective? (past experience in her life)

       How would you explain Andrea Yates’ behavior from a social-cultural
       perspectives? (social environment)


Martin Seligman has effectively argued that the individualism of American society plays
a critical role in its accelerating rate of depression. What important principles this case
might reveal?

				
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