Salem Mother Protecting Children – Accused of Attempted Murder

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on March 20, 2012

According to a police report, a Salem mother stated that she was protecting her children, with regards to the allegation that she sliced their throats and set their apartment on fire. Let us look at this from the mind’s eye of a psychotherapist.

Imagine this scenario: a person believes in one’s reality so deeply that thoughts of another’s right to live, one’s own morals, and appropriate decision making skills literally vanishes, disappears, to emerge a focused mission with such intent and intensity to where a mother duct tapes the vents and sprinklers in her apartment, disabled the smoke detectors, slices the throats of her children, pours lighter fluid on their bodies, and sets the apartment on fire with matches. Although none of us, the public, was there, let us enter this allegation and discuss it from the lens of “if” that is what happened. If these allegations are true; what is a woman, a young mother’s reality in a situation like this? Is her reality the belief that death is the better option than life? It appears similar to those who are suicidal who explain that they are unable to see any other alternative.

Whether suicidal or homicidal if one’s reality is that the only way is death as opposed to life, that shows the level of despair and how darkened a place this person has entered. Imagine feeling so stuck to where death is “protection” of one’s children, how helpless! Is the belief, the reality, that one’s children have and/or will experience such hardships in life that helping them to cope with and navigate those challenges is so far fetched as the method to protect them and help them, that rather killing one’s own children is the only way to protect them? No, this is not a story out of a horror movie, although it is quite horrific, heinous indeed. This is reality. This is the story of a real woman, real children, a real family.

Some people when experiencing challenges in their life have the belief that they will only receive obstacles that they can handle and will overcome. There are others who believe not only do the obstacles they have are they unable to overcome, but rather those obstacles are not challenges to overcome, they are impossible missions that allow for zero success and no journey with a sunny outcome and rather darkness will be throughout time. There are those walking among us that see death as light and life as darkness. Of course there are those in contrast who commit acts that are compulsively vindictive, vengeful in spirit and just want others to believe that they are not “that” person. Therefore they use words to soften your view of them like; “I was protecting my children”. Or perhaps that is not only the view they want others to see of them, but the view they want to see of themselves.

Certainly without interviewing a person who commits an act that seems so out of the box, to say the least, one can only assume to know the motive, the deeper reason within one’s own self as to why such a violent act was committed. Certainly without interviewing a person who has behaved the way in which we are discussing at this very moment, one cannot diagnose nor know what is their reality. What one can say is that to commit to this type of behavior is a desperate and extreme act. To get to the point of where you feel your only option is to act in such away that would make any person’s head spin and eyes pop open with disbelief leads one to say; what has happened and is happening in this woman’s life to get her here? As the case unfolds certainly we the public will learn more.

This morning during an interview on FOX 25 News Boston, morning anchor Shannon Mulaire  asked this psychotherapist whether a person just “snaps”. I explained that it has been my experience that people do not just snap. With consistency in cases like these, we find out after wards that there is someone that the person divulged feelings to having to do with the behavior they end up displaying. If the person did not share their pain build up with another, upon being interviewed, the person typically shares the challenges and build up that let them to the point of break.

Humans are like beakers. We fill up more and more and if we do not do something to pour out what is in our beaker, that beaker will continue to fill to where eventually it boils over. The boil over is the break, we do not wake up one day with a full beaker and thus snap, it is a build over time, a compilation effect. No one person has the same breaking point. Also, each person’s breaking point behavior is unique to them, although certainly there are similarities between cases. Which is the very reason why self introspecting, being honest with one’s self about one’s challenges, and seeking out help well before our beaker is full is imperative. Regardless of one’s life’s challenges, we are human and therefore are capable of making choices. We must choose to take ownership of our actions and our life. The moment we bring children into this world we are not only responsible for ourselves but we are responsible for them. Having a full beaker is never reason enough to make a choice to attempt to take another’s life. Life is full of hardships, that is expected. How we cope with those challenges, the actions we take, and the choices that we make, is what separates us from the animals.

 

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