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Abstract

This essay focuses on cultural constructions of infanticide and psychosis, especially cases in which the mother heard delusional commands to kill her children. Part I examines the background of the Yates, Laney, and Diaz cases. Part II explores whether these mothers can be seen paradoxically as feminist subjects of empowerment rather than as victims. This essay argues that psychotic mothers have been disempowered and silences, so their acts cannot be seen as subversive feminist gestures. Part III, however, argues that the legal trials of Laney and Diaz demonstrate a possible subversion through trial strategy. These two trials more fully told the mother's story than did the Yates trial and more fully educated juries about postpartum psychosis. These differences made it more difficult for the juries - even Texas juries - to mete out retributive punishment and much easier for the juries to react with compassion.

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