At this point, it’s pretty late in the legal game for John Muhammad, known as The Washington Sniper. Tried and sentenced to death for the killing of Dean Meyers, the victim of a sniper’s bullet at a Manassas, Virginia gas station in 2002, Muhammad has already exhausted appellate avenues aside from the United States
Progressive postpartum depression is one of the least recognized diseases suffered by young mothers despite the fact that almost 80% of women who give birth experience some form of postpartum upset. Although this symptom picture is well described in the research literature, postpartum depression is not recognized in the mental health professional’s legal “bible,” the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (“DSM IV”).  The symptoms of postpartum depression may masquerade as manic-depression (bipolar disorder). Periods of euphoria, agitation, sleeplessness, sexual promiscuity, and hyperactivity characterize the manic symptoms. Poor judgment is a result. 
Progressive Postpartum Depression and Psychosis
A common misperception is that the postpartum depression is nothing more than the “baby blues” and will disappear on its own shortly after childbirth.  However, if untreated, the disease can develop into a more severe form, progressive postpartum depression or even psychosis. When this happens, the mother suffers from continued episodes of mania or depression, each one progressively worse than the last. Rejections, separations, and losses often trigger subsequent recurrent episodes. Because of the episodic nature, the woman is often untreated or undiagnosed until a tragedy occurs.
Despite the common misconception that only newborns are at risk from this disease, mothers suffering from the more severe form kill older children. The case of Andrea Yates more than amply illustrates this point.
Continue Reading In Depth Look: Filicide is Different – 3
Subsequent studies agree with Resnick’s Classification of Motives in Maternal Filicide Cases
Subsequent studies have agreed on a commonality of motives in cases of maternal filicide. These motives are: (1) the mother’s mental illness, often seen as “pathological,” “acutely psychotic,” or “mentally ill” killings, (2) lack of bonding with the child, manifested as “neonaticide,” “unwanted child,” or “ignored pregnancy” deaths, and (3) inadequate parenting, resulting in “accidental,” “discipline-related,” or “neglect” deaths.
Recent Studies Look Not Only at Motive, but at the Nature of the Mother-Child Relationship
Recent studies focus on more than just the motive, but on the nature of the mother-child relationship. Forensic psychiatric evaluations of women criminally charged with the deaths of their children found the following characterizations of the mother-child relationship: abusive / neglectful mothers, psychotic / depressed mothers, retaliatory mothers, psychopathic mothers, and detached mothers.
Continue Reading In Depth Look: Filicide is Different – 2