Infant Tragedy and Blame

Creative Commons License photo credit: MeLY3o

One of the most heartbreaking stories to hear about in the news is a parent who ends the life of an infant child. In many cases, postpartum psychosis is to blame. A break from reality that causes the parent to act in a homicidal way isn’t terribly common, but it does happen. When a baby cries, the instinct of a mother of father should be to comfort the baby, but someone experiencing postpartum psychosis often just wants the noise to end – with disastrous and deadly results.

Take, for example, the case of Alexandra Tobias in Florida. Tobias has pleaded guilty to shaking her son – a three month-old – to death. The woman said that the baby wouldn’t stop crying, and it was distracting her from playing the Facebook game Farmville.  She admits to shaking the boy and, eventually, killing him.

Placing blame

Of course, various media outlets have jumped onto this, claiming that Farmville or Facebook are somehow to blame. They argue that the game becomes an obsession, from which a person can’t tear themselves away.

In the case of a postpartum murder, however, it’s ridiculous to suggest that anything except postpartum psychosis was to blame. While video games can (like many other endeavors or hobbies) become addictive, there’s no real evidence to suggest that a game would cause this behavior – even if the woman were “addicted.”

There have been cases of moms with postpartum psychosis who have suffocated their babies to keep them from crying so that they could go to sleep, yet no one in the media is suggesting that sleeping is to blame.

An important medical issue, ignored

Postpartum psychosis (and postpartum depression, for that matter) are important health concerns that women must be educated about.  To put the spotlight on Farmville of all things in this case actually deflects attention from what’s really important, and keeps people ignorant of the true dangers of postpartum illness.

Being educated about postpartum illnesses and knowing how to seek treatment is key to avoiding these kinds of horribly tragic situations – Farmville and Facebook notwithstanding.

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