150: Postpartum Psychosis and the Law


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By Katayune Kaeni, Psy.D., Katayune Kaeni, and Psy.D.. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Postpartum psychosis is a sensitive topic that we’ve talked about on the show, but today we are taking a deep dive into the legal ramifications of the journey for a mother. The more we understand, the better foundation we have for advocacy.

George Parnham is a soft-spoken attorney who once trained for the priesthood, and was thrust into the national spotlight through representing such high-profile clients as Andrea Yates and Clara Harris. Parnham has practiced law for 43 years in Houston, Texas, specializing in criminal defense. He has become an expert on the defense of individuals with mental illness and a passionate advocate for legal reform of their treatment in the criminal justice system. Parnham is called upon frequently by local and national news media, as well as state bar organizations, to render an opinion on mental health. George has an unmistakable passion and concern for these mothers and their families.

Show Highlights:

  • How George was drawn into the postpartum psychosis field with the Andrea Yates case
  • How “murder” in the mother-child relationship differs from any and every other scenario and must be treated differently by an attorney
  • Why some lawyers in these cases might be hesitant to reach out to experts
  • Mental illness is the underlying cause of the legal and moral wrongs committed by these mothers (this is the crux of what the defense attorney has to explain to the jury)
  • Why the mother’s history, even back in early childhood, can be causal
  • What a defense attorney has to accomplish in the trial:
    • Put the jury in the eyes of the mom on trial
    • Convey all aspects of the circumstances to the jury
    • Counterbalance what has been disclosed by law enforcement to the public
  • A glimpse into the mental state of a mom after a postpartum psychosis incident
  • The best case outcome for a postpartum psychosis case
  • What happens if the defendant pleads insanity and the jury accepts that plea
  • The tedious legal steps that a defense attorney has to take
  • The status of Andrea Yates and her treatment today


Email George: georgeparnham@aol.com

Find George and his practice: Parnham And Associates

162 episodes