AOL News Story Makes Outrageous Comments About Postpartum Depression

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How many posts am I going to have to write? How many letters to the editor are people going to have to send? How many advocates shouting down the postpartum depression stigma will it take?

AOL News, we have a MAJOR problem. Since you have the word “news” in your name, one might think you are serious journalists. Or at the very least, semi-serious journalists. Now it is clear to me that some of you shouldn’t be writing at all.

In your story on the recent murder of two boys in South Carolina you quote an “expert” who I find unbelievably offensive. I am outraged.

“Most women who suffer depression after their children are born are suffering from post-how-did-I-get-stuck-with-this-kid, this body, this life? They may be depressed, but it is their situation and their psychopathic personality that brings them to kill their children, and not some chemical malfunction.”

Postpartum depression is a “crock”? “Most women who suffer depression after their children are born…?” What? Are you serious? Who the heck are you Pat Brown, and exactly what expertise do you have on postpartum depression? Based on that comment, you can’t possibly know the first thing about it. You can’t possibly know an eighth of the first thing about it. And AOL? You’re complicit in this spreading this awfulness. How dare you not check with real experts, or provide a balanced view? Does the writer of this story, David Lohr, have an editor?

Honestly, I could throw up.

Do you know how many women suffer in silence because of bullshit stories like these? How many women can’t reach out for help for a REAL illness because of this kind of ignorance? I wonder how many new families you have negatively impacted today by this completely mean-spirited and off the mark story?

First, not every mother who harms her child has PPD, or psychosis for that matter. Most don’t.

Second, we have no way of knowing why this mother did what she did, except for her own comments.

And third …

Third, you suck.

Shame on you.

SHAME ON YOU.

***

Update at 11:15: So it took about an hour and a half from when this was first posted at 9:43am. An editor has now removed the quote I cited above, which I assure you did exist, and has added the following statement:

Editors’ Note: This story was revised to remove opinions from a criminal profiler about postpartum depression. We’ll be updating the story with more background and context on this tragic story later today.

Not enough for me AOL. I would like an apology to all mothers.

Update at 11:56: Just so I’m making sure I’m not being misunderstood, I’m not commenting on the case of Duley. What she has admitted to is awful, and I have no idea what led her to it. What concerns me is that AOL would allow a blanket statement about PPD — and it was a blanket statement — that is stigmatizing and uninformed to be made. Even if this mother committed infanticide in part because she was psychotic or had some other clinical mental illness, that doesn’t justify saying that women who have depression after childbirth are just disappointed in their new lives. It doesn’t.

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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Comments

  1. WTF? You are justifiably outraged, and I am, too. News??! Gag.

  2. Wow, that is just unbelievable!! What a sad realisation that we're no where near where we need to be with awareness – no thanks to idiots like this!

  3. Amber @Beyond Postpa says:

    Someone needs to waltz into Pat Brown's office and take her on. If I lived in Washington DC I would already be on the metro.
    Or you could just flood her inbox: patbrown@patbrownprofiling.com

  4. good god. i work for AOL. in ACCOUNTING. i had nothing to do with this article. i am a PPOCD/PPD survivor and this makes me want to hurl. what an embarrassment.

  5. I came via twitter,
    first of all I can't believe that comment, disgusting, reckless and downright dangerous. I had such a hard time after my kiddo was born 3 years ago (now know it was/is OCD) and I can't even begin to imagine how already suffering new moms are feeling after reading that.
    secondly I have wandered around your blog a little and I love it. Helpful even now but really wish I'd found it when my kiddo was born. Thank you.

  6. Rachel V. says:

    Definately flooding that inbox. Does she have children? If so, isnt that wonderul that her experience was filled with unicorns, magical fairy dust and rainbows. B*$#@, dont judge something you obviously know NOTHING about!

  7. Ugh, it made me sick to read those comments too. I cannot believe they were allowed to publish such rubbish. ANGRY.

  8. Katherine, please tell me that you are going to write them and tell them how all of feel… This is an outrage. This makes me feel sick. What can we do to make a statement… please

  9. This raised a serious point Katherine
    Women with PPD suffer from a serious case of post “brain-cell-devouring” syndrome after reading such offensive, low class, uneducated, shart streaks.
    Shame on you AOL.

  10. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Honestly I fault AOL more than I fault Pat Brown. They're the ones who spread this ridiculous drivel to the masses by putting it on their site. Otherwise no one would have had to be subjected to Pat's opinion.

  11. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    I'm sure you are mortified. Not your fault. But if you know anyone on the editorial side, make sure to let them know they are pretty unpopular on the internet today.

  12. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Welcome, and I'm so glad you like Postpartum Progress! Hope you'll let others know about it.

  13. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    I'm trying to spread it across Twitter by getting people to retweet "Hey @aolnews . We're not letting you off the hook. Fix this NOW." with a link to my story.
    I also put my story up on BlogHer.
    And Catherine Connors from Her Bad Mother is writing about it – she has a gazillion readers.
    And I'm sure other bloggers are going to be writing about it, like Amber and Lauren.
    And I'm about to email the senior editor of ParentDish.com, which is an AOL property and let her know. We'll keep working on this.
    If anyone else has ideas, let the group know. Amber suggested emailing Pat Brown as well.

  14. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Precisely.

  15. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    I know! I found this over an hour ago, and honestly I'm still shaking. I've got to find a way to calm down!

  16. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    So much stigma still exists, and people don't realize that.

  17. All I have to add to what all the wonderful ladies said above is….EWWW!
    That's a terribly insulting article….

  18. They updated the story! Check it out!!

  19. Yes, I just sat down and ripped off a letter to the so-called journalist who wrote this piece of trash. In between starting and finishing it, I noticed that the stupid comments had been removed. I'm glad I saw them before I started to write because they fueled me!
    Also glad to see that the firestorm of angry folks made them take out the nonsense. Hope they do more than just cut stuff out. Hope they update with actual experts. I suggested that just Googling "postpartum depression" would bring forth more credible information than Pat Brown could ever have to say.
    Keep it up!

  20. Amazing Katherine………. you are amazing!!! thanks for all you do

  21. Amber @Beyond Postpa says:

    Agreed, they are "News" and responsible for the content which they publish. However, it appears that she (Pat Brown) purported herself to be an expert on the subject. Instead of offering inaccurate and damaging comments, she could have said, "Sorry, AOL, but I AM NOT an expert on perinatal mood disorders; I suggest you contact someone who is." Cause if I was contacted by a news organization for a story about something which I obviously have no effing clue about, I would bow out. She chose not to. And for that I say…
    Take your idiotic/uninformed comments, and your $ and media hungry motives and SHOVE IT, Pat Brown.

  22. I'm writing something on my Psych Central blog today.

  23. Amber @Beyond Postpa says:

    PS- Maybe she'll think twice before she makes her next statement or offers commentary on news in the future and we'll save people with other issues/causes the hurt that her frivolous and ill-informed opinion has caused us.

  24. Christina says:

    PPD is a biochemical/hormonal imbalance. Most women whom I know do their utmost to keep any harm from befalling their precious children. I myself did everything I could to "save" my children from any threat I could have posed them, including by refusing to be alone with them EVER.
    Shame on you AOL!

  25. Sing it, Catherine.
    I blinked about sixty times after reading that article. But nope…I hadn't imagined it. It was a real article with a real byline and someone had really signed their name to that piece of crap.

  26. Uh, that's Katherine.
    I guess I need an editor myself. (But not the one from AOL.)

  27. Thanks everyone for taking this issue so seriously. It is serious. So many of us who have suffered with PPD have no voice to raise. We're still embarrassed, still feeling too alone, still want it to just wash under the bridge. I'm so thankful that there are strong women out there willing to be heard and to stand up for the rest of us.
    Thanks forever.

  28. I saw the original quote. So sad that PPD is still being viewed in this light.

  29. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Yes, after an hour and a half of lots of amazing people on Twitter standing up for women with PPD, they removed it. So grateful to everyone who raised their voices loud and quickly.

  30. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Thanks Erika.

  31. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Send me a link when it's up!

  32. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Thank you.
    And can I just say, Mom101 just commented on my blog. (Dancing small jig while still angry at AOL.)

  33. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Oh Amanda. Please, please, please don't let people like this take you down. Please know how many people are standing right here with you and who really care and who understand and who know you are not a bad person. We know.

  34. Did the ParentDish editor ever respond? I'm curious to see what they say.

  35. AmazingGrace says:

    This act of such ignorance is at the core of why so many women weep alone, silently enduring an illness that is treatable. AOL blows! To make such a blanket statement shows their lack of integrity and knowledge on any matter.
    I would however, like to point out, the light in all this…how strong and untied this community is, to take such quick action and make a change so that our voices be heard and that PPD has a face and a name. Thank you Katherine for always staying on top of these things and speaking up!

  36. MommyGeekology says:

    I want to smash something.

  37. I'm kind of irritated that I didn't read the article before they changed it. I'll still be writing to them demanding an apology, though. I have to echo everything you said, and add that not only is it true that all women who hurt their children don't have PPD, but not all women who have PPD want to hurt their children. I never wanted to hurt my kids, no matter how bad my PPD got. That was just never part of it for me, and I'm so grateful for that.

  38. Ludicrous.
    Maybe they should talk to some women who've had PPD, you know, do some journalistic research, or just ASKED ONE OF US. My PPD didn't look like my best friend's, just like it didn't look like yours. "Disappointed"? REALLY?
    Hells bells, these people are ridiculous. Blanket statement.

  39. OK, first off, I suffered from PPD after the birth of my first child. I am also a therapist who works with women suffering from PPD. I say this because I'm about to disagree with you and I want to be clear that I fully admire and support what you do to raise awareness about PPD and to help new mothers get connected to resources. I think Pat Brown should have kept her mouh shut and AOL should have consulted a real expert. However, I also think her point was not to demean women with PPD but to enforce the idea that most women with PPD are not a threat to their children. I have so many women really upset about the diagnosis of PPD because people get confused about the distinction between PPD and post-partum psychosis. As I said, she should have kept her mouth shut, because she has no idea of the difference between psychopathic personalities and post-partum anything, and because she came off sounding dismissive of women with PPD, but I think her point was actually to differentiate the two conditions.

  40. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    I wish I had a cache of the story or had done a print screen (anybody?) because as I read she wasn't even talking about psychosis at all. And if you go here http://prettybabies.blogspot.com/2010/08/open-let… and read her comments, you can see that she's pretty demeaning.
    To wit, a direct quote from Pat Brown:
    "Generally speaking, I don't buy the chemical imbalance theory for any depression; I believe people just don't want to deal with real life issues and the fact that sometimes life is simply depressing and damn difficult. It isn't about chemical imbalance but tough times and our own issues.
    Pat Brown
    Investigative Criminal Profiler"

  41. Ah, well. Never mind. Clearly she is incredibly misinformed, defensive and biased and no one should consult her on any issue having to do with mental health.

  42. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    It's always good to try and give someone the benefit of the doubt though. You are a good person.

  43. Actually, on this blog http://prettybabies.blogspot.com/2010/08/open-let… Pat Brown responds to some criticism. Colleen, I know you are thinking she was maybe distinguishing two different disorders, but I think the problem is that she doesn't really understand depression very well at all. As you can see from her comments, it's just about life "being tough". That's it. While that may be true some of the time, that's not a generalizable statement about depression as a whole.
    I am also a therapist and I have been through PPD and PMDD myself. I really think that Ms Brown simply doesn't know what she is talking about and is making generalized ill-informed statements. In her response, she really doesn't speak much to the idea of depression as a defense, just her belief about depression in general (which exposes her lack of understanding).
    Unfortunately, I really think she is being somewhat dismissive about depression. Or at least very narrow-minded.

  44. I am seething and can't wait to post on my blog tonight about this. Maybe we should consider tweeting at @profilerpatb and/or emailing her. Maybe, just maybe, she'll get it. Right now, she obviously doesn't. What she stated on the AOL article was incredibly ignorant, and the fact that she would respond the way she did to Amy over at the Pretty Babies blog (http://prettybabies.blogspot.com/2010/08/open-let… REALLY BLOWS MY MIND because it's quite obvious she doesn't care, because she has obviously never been depressed before or had a loved one suffer from one. How anyone can make such inaccurate statements about PPD and be depended on as a news resource is beyond me. To me, it's despicable behavior. Maybe with all our tweets and blog posts, people will stop using her as a news resource, seeing how wrong she is about what she's professing to be an "expert" at.
    The one good thing that comes out of all this is–just as Tom Cruise's comments to Brooke back in '05 brought so much attention on PPD–is that more people will try to understand this #1 complication of childbirth. They will realize that ignorant comments like Pat's create stigma and moms suffering from PPMDs to suffer unnecessarily in silence when as a consequence.
    Oh, Amber, if only I lived near DC too…I'd be happy to join you and anyone else in confronting this think-she-knows-it-all.

  45. Colleen,
    YES! You are a good person to give benefit of the doubt like that. You are more optimistic than I was about her, and I wish I could have been. I might have even considered that point if I hadn't already seen her other comments.
    Too bad. Someone that willing to correspond with people could have a great positive impact. Instead, she just defends ignorance.

  46. Amber @Beyond Postpa says:

    If you are reading this and know someone who cares about any mental health issue at all, I urge you to share Pat Brown's complete dismissal that depression isn't anything more than having a bad attitude about your life circumstance, as evidenced in her response to my tweets here:
    @ProfilerPatB
    @Atlantamom I can cite dozens of sources by PhDs on the subject of PPD and depression not being caused by chemical imbalance but by life.
    about 2 hours ago via web in reply to Atlantamom.
    In response, I plan to print this blog post I wrote months ago (http://atlantappdmom.blogspot.com/2010/06/on-toug… and shove it down her throat, ahem…gently hand it to her.

  47. I am seething and can't wait to post on my blog tonight about this. Maybe we should consider tweeting at @profilerpatb and/or emailing her. Maybe, just maybe, she'll get it. Right now, she obviously doesn't. What she stated on the AOL article was incredibly ignorant, and the fact that she would respond the way she did to Amy over at the Pretty Babies blog (http://prettybabies.blogspot.com/2010/08/open-let… REALLY BLOWS MY MIND because it's quite obvious she doesn't care, because she has obviously never been depressed before or had a loved one suffer from one. How anyone can make such inaccurate statements about PPD and be depended on as a news resource is beyond me. To me, it's despicable behavior. Maybe with all our tweets and blog posts, people will stop using her as a news resource, seeing how wrong she is about what she's professing to be an "expert" at.
    The one good thing that comes out of all this is–just as Tom Cruise's comments to Brooke back in '05 brought so much attention on PPD–is that more people will try to understand this #1 complication of childbirth. They will realize that ignorant comments like Pat's create stigma and moms suffering from PPMDs to suffer unnecessarily in silence when as a consequence.
    Oh, Amber, if only I lived near DC too…I'd be happy to join you and anyone else in confronting this think-she-knows-it-all.

  48. a side point. other articles regarding this tragedy also have bad information about PPD and related disorders :(

  49. I have not yet written a post about this, but I am shocked and appalled. Amazing. :( thank YOU for taking the time to write something on behalf of mothers everywhere.

  50. I was watching your tweets earlier and was utter appalled when you first mentioned it…how incredibly stupid of AOL to publish something like that without thinking. That is assuming they weren't thinking when they published it…really did they think no one was going to have something to say about it?

  51. You can bet I took the time to write about this today. Complete with a breakdown of how the brain chemistry behind depression works. And I wrote her an email letting her know that I thought that what she wrote was unconscionable as someone who, I'd assume, has extensive knowledge of psychology.
    I'm hurt and angered that this illness still gets little to no respect from the media.

  52. I am not one to comment on posts, but this has me enraged, so thought I'd jump on here…. I did my dissertation on postpartum mental health, and there is quite a solid literature demonstrated the relation of hormonal shifts and PPD/PPP, as… well as PPP's close link to bipolar disorder. If PPP is a situational problem, then so is bipolar disorder, and then all other mental illnesses might be classified this way as well. So her comments are crap, based on the fact they are wrong. Secondly, this woman has a Master's in Criminal Justice and a certificate in Profiling, so seriously has no business commenting on this. Third, she is most famous for writing books profiling a CONVICTED child killer and Jack the Ripper… that's not "profiling" that is reporting facts. Nothing like making a profile once the criminal is already known. Fourthly, I wonder if anyone has told her that multiple meta-analyses have shown that criminal profilers' predictions are little better than chance. Her profession has less validity than weathermen. Phew. I feel better now. Sorry for the long post.

  53. Kathy Morelli says:

    Thanks for blogging about this, Katherine. As you siad, it has nothing to do with the crime, but the stigmatization and dismissal of the real illness, depression. Although depression has a multifactorial etiolgy, it is biologically-based, and is treatable, like other human illnesses. I'm going to look into this expert. thanks, Kathy.

  54. Christina Daly says:

    God, I am seriously PISSED off…I do not know how this got passed me bc I was reading about this woman. Pat Brown is a complete asshole and I wish I could give him a piece of my mind. Is there an address I can write to…I cannot even type right now bc I am so pissed…How can this moron make a judgement like that?? And Aol has the nerve to quote this idiot? I feel like I want to vomit, I am so angry. This is exactly why people do not understand PPD! I am so happy you are around to defend!!!!

  55. I'm sorry I missed the chance to be part of this yesterday. Home with the baby and ignoring the web.
    Katherine, you rock!
    You guys ALL rock!

  56. thanks ladies for your guts and determination! we have to look out for each other!

  57. Hi Sharon,
    yet once again I am grateful that you are tracking the news/internet/bloggo sphere for these types of comments and advocating, setting the record straight and moving things forward on behalf of all of us.
    And I'm looking forward to meeting you in person at PSI/Marce in October!
    P.S. Did you hear we passed the Postpartum legislation in MA on Thursday!! We're having parties over here!!!! I'll send you the press release if you're interested.
    Cheers,
    Liz