Rachel Anglum, 18, gave birth to a baby girl at the home where she lived with her parents. She allegedly delivered the baby alone and afterwards held her daughter in her arms for over an hour. It was later determined that she “hugged her newborn to death. ” (Meyer 50) Neonaticide is the killing of a newborn baby less than a month old. Typically, the mothers are the killers and are very young and unwed. About 90% of neonaticide mothers are aged 25 or the pregnancy. 2-Neonaticide) Based on the Psychological Theory, crimes can result from a wide array of reasons most of which are: inappropriate learning or improper conditioning, a diseased mind, inappropriate, abnormal or dysfunctional mental processes within the personality, inappropriately conditioned behaviors. It is the personality that is the key motivational element in most people since it is the most common basis of drives and motives. (Schmallenger 89) With regard to the above captioned paragraph, it is thought the major reason for neonaticide mothers to commit this type of crime is because they are in denial of pregnancy.
This type of denial is psychological and can be derived in a young woman with previous mental illness or no prior mental instability at all. The point is that a young woman in this particular “state of mind” is overwhelmed by fear of and shame of an unplanned pregnancy. It is their emotional immaturity and lack of resources that keeps these young women from understanding and coping with the repercussions of their pregnancies which is why most of them have the inability to show any remorse for killing their child. Furthermore, most of the young women cannot even recall being pregnant or even giving birth at all. Meyer 53-54) Another psychological theory is based on the psychotic offender. Psychosis is a mental disorder. Psychotic people have been found to be out of touch with reality and also suffer from hallucinations and delusions. (Schmallenger 91) My example for this theory is the Andrea Yates case. Andrea Yates had a nervous breakdown, two suicide attempts, and two psychiatric hospitalizations in the summer of 1999 and then diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. According to her doctors, her treatment was successful and she was discharged in January 2000. On June 20, 2001 Andrea Yates drown all five of her innocent children in the bathtub.
Despite the direct orders given by Dr. Mohammed Saeed advising to not leave Andrea alone with her children, Mr. Yates did just that. He left for work that morning and had scheduled for his mother to arrive an hour later. Within that one hour window, Andrea had drowned all five of her children. When you apply this particular theory, the reason why Andrea commits this crime is because she was in an abnormal psychotic state of mind and had a severe case of post-partum depression, she was not stable, and was inadvertently given an opportunity and a window of time by her husband.
With her extensive past history of mental illness and the pressures and stress of additional children in the household; it was a perfect storm for Andrea’s extreme psychotic behavior to take over her mind and exacerbate the murderous rage that took place. After several trials and appeals of trials, Andrea was eventually found Not Guilty by reason of insanity and is currently in Kerrville, TX living in a low security state mental hospital. 4-Andrea Yates) I would have to agree that the psychological theories for both aforementioned cases provides enough evidence to indicate dysfunctional behavior and inappropriate and abnormal mental processes on Yates behalf was a major contributory factor in her case and for Rachel, inappropriate mental process mostly related to the offenders age and underdeveloped cognitive processes would be the major contributing factors that led to her committing neonaticide. (Schmallenger 89) A side note and personal opinion of mine is that no mother in their “right” mind could or would ever harm a hair on their own child’s body.
Therefore, regardless of whether or not there was intent to kill, the question as to why a mother would murder their children seems to always come back to the mental stability of the mother at the time of the murder. Other reasons why women kill can fall under sociological theories. These theories suggest that criminal behavior can result from society’s impact on an individual or group of individuals. Some specific sociological perspectives are the existence of subcultures and many types of opportunities, the process of association and socialization between individuals, and clashing norms and values between diverse social groups.
I’m going to discuss a few more cases with regard to “why women kill” and include a description of the appropriate sociological theory that could best be used to describe the reasons why these women killed. (Schmallenger 92) Lynn Womack Turner always wanted a career in law enforcement. She usually hung around with cops and is how she met her husband Glenn Turner, a Georgia police officer. Lynn, then 22, wanted to impress Glenn so she showered him with gifts like tickets to the NASCAR races and snakeskin boots. In 1993,
Glenn told his mother and his cop buddies that he was going to marry Lynn and none of them thought that she was right for him. She was an attractive but high maintenance kind of a woman who spent money like crazy and bought elaborate gifts with her credit cards. Regardless, they would soon be married and Lynn named beneficiary on his insurance policies. In March 1995, the marriage quickly went south and soon enough, Glenn had come down with flu-like symptoms, had made one trip to the ER and the next day he was found wrapped in a blanket, dead. Glenn’s mother and cop buddies suspected foul play but didn’t have much to go on.
They soon found out that Lynn had been involved with another man about a year after she married Glenn. Randy Thompson was a Forsyth County sheriff’s deputy and he and Lynn were together for a couple years and shared two children together. Even though they never married, Lynn was still named beneficiary on his life insurance policies. By January 2001, the same scenario soon followed with their relationship falling apart and Randy falling ill with flu-like symptoms and inevitably three days later, he was found on his couch wrapped in a blanket, dead.
Word got around about the similarities between the deaths and soon an investigation ensued. The autopsy results found that Randy was fatally poisoned by antifreeze and later confirmed that Lynn’s first husband also had traces of the same substance after his remains were ordered to be exhumed and tested. (5-rd. com) After collecting nearly $153,000 in death benefits from husband, Glenn’s, death and $36,000 from her boyfriend’s death, Lynn was tried and convicted of murdering Randy Thompson and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 6-Lynn Turner) This particular type of criminal behavior could potentially fall under the sociological theory of social learning. Lynn obviously had a goal in mind and set course to accomplish that goal and was going to take down anyone that got in her way of reaching that goal. Her focus and goal was “money. ” The social learning theory goes on to say that there are three mechanisms that can engage offenders in criminal activity, they are: differential reinforcements, beliefs, and modeling.
The differential reinforcement says that “Crime is more likely to occur when it (a) is frequently reinforced and infrequently punished; (b) results in large amounts of reinforcement (e. g. , a lot of money, social approval, or pleasure) and little punishment; and (c) is more likely to be reinforced than alternative behaviors. ” (7-Social Learning 815) It is fairly clear that Lynn, having received the proceeds from Glenn’s life insurance policy, had her reinforcement and was also never punished for his crime. Based on the social learning theory, it would make sense for Lynn to be a repeat offender.
Lynn had bills to pay and a deteriorating relationship with another man who had named her beneficiary on his life insurance policy and only one thing or person standing in her way of reaching her primary goal and that was Randy. He had to die and it had to appear to be accidental so she could collect the insurance settlement. (7-Social Learning 815) On September 30, 2004, after 17 long years of marriage, Claire Margaret MacDonald, 39, of Acheron, Australia, laid waiting in full camouflage gear in the bushes in a sniper nest for 90 minutes for her husband to come into range.
Not once, twice, or even three times, Claire MacDonald, a meek devoted mother and former primary school teacher, shot her husband six times until he was dead. A few hours prior to Mr. MacDonald’s unfortunate murder, not surprisingly enough, Mr. MacDonald brutally raped his wife for not properly storing a bag of potatoes. (8-Smh. com) During questioning by police Claire eventually admitted to shooting her husband and also said that “he did not deserve to live”. (8-Smh. om) In court, Claire entered a plea of not guilty for the murder of her husband. It was later presented in court that Claire MacDonald had endured 17 years of sexual, psychological, and physical abuse, basically being “totally dominated” by her tyrant of a husband. Claire’s defense attorney had successfully convinced the jury that she had acted in self defense and therefore was not found guilty of first degree murder nor even a lesser charge of manslaughter. Claire MacDonald was acquitted March 3, 2006.
According to Sociological Theories in particular, Strain Theory, may very well be the best description for the above situation as I have found 8 examples under the Strain Theory which from the knowledge I obtained from Claire MacDonald’s that seem to bring a broader understanding of her situation; they are as follows: “strain may result when people take something one values or present one with noxious or negative stimuli”, “to reduce or escape from the strain they are experiencing”, “to end harassment from others”, “to seek revenge against those who have wronged them”, “People want to be positively regarded by others and they want to be treated respectfully by others, which at a minimum involves being treated in a just and fair manner”, “the ability to resist the demands of others and engage in action without the permission of others”, “whether individuals blame their strain on the deliberate behavior of someone else”. (9-Strain Theory 814) The fact of the matter is that if your environment and the conditions surrounding your environment are filled with strained events it would make any normal person feel bad. When you have bad feelings it can exacerbate a feeling of more pressure for some kind of action to happen to make it right.
Anger and frustration are usually the primary culprits that energize the person to take action, therefore creating the impending need for revenge, and ultimately inhibitions will lower, triggering a crime for some. I happen to agree with both social learning and social strain ideologies within the sociological theories of criminal behavior where both of the above mention cases are concerned. I chose them specifically to outline not only why women kill but also to show the thought processes, social status changes, and social relationships that somehow developed either abnormally by learning from immediate family as in the first case or came about over a period of time when finally they just snap because they have had enough, such as in the last case. Either way you look at both examples, they both concluded in fair criminal justice. Sources: 1. Meyer, Cheryl L. and Oberman, Michelle Mothers Who Kill Their Children: Understanding the Acts of Moms from Susan Smith to the “Prom Mom” New York University Press, 2001. 2. ) http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Neonaticide 3. ) Schmallenger, Frank Criminal Justice Today: an introductory text for the 21st Century 11thed. Pearson Education, Inc. 2009. 4. ) http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Andrea_Yates 5. ) http://www. rd. com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/the-black-widow-killer/article26791. html 6. ) http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Lynn_Turner_(murderer) 7. ) ;a href=”http://law. jrank. org/pages/815/Crime-Causation-Sociological-Theori