For this Discussion, consider the following scenario:
Janet is a 34-year-old married mother of three. After the birth of her first child 13 years ago, she and her husband Michael decided that she would be a stay-at-home mother while Michael worked full time as a police officer. After their second child was born 2 years later, their marriage started to deteriorate. Michael took on a more stressful role on the police force, and Janet started to struggle raising two children and maintaining a household. Michael began drinking after his shifts and would often start arguments with Janet about the cleanliness of the house, the meals she prepared, her lack of sexual desire, etc.
After a stressful day at work one night, Michael got angry with Janet and pulled his gun on her. Janet did not report the incident, given that Michael was a police officer, and she did not want to ruin his reputation or career. Michael apologized profusely and swore it would not happen again. Several weeks later, they had another argument and Michael threw a beer bottle at Janet, hitting her in the head. During other arguments, he would push her, grab her, and swear at her. He would also threaten to find her and kill her if she thought about leaving him. Janet was still reluctant to report the incidents but started feeling anxious, depressed, and withdrawn. She blamed herself for not being a better wife, she withdrew from her extended family, stopped volunteering at her children’s school, and stopped caring for her appearance.
One night after he had been drinking, Michael forced himself on Janet and raped her. As a result of the rape, Janet became pregnant with their third child. Michael accused Janet of having an affair and becoming pregnant with her lover’s child, and during an argument one night when she was 5 months pregnant, he punched her in the stomach. That night when Michael was sleeping, Janet took his service weapon and shot and killed him in his sleep.
Consider the facts of this case and imagine that you are the forensic psychologist hired to assess Janet and consult the court on Janet’s mental state—and whether this could be a crime of self-defense. Also, consider what therapeutic recommendations you would make for Janet and her children.
Post your thoughts about potential diagnoses for Janet. What else would you want to know about this case in order to help you with your decision? Would you consider a self-defense or temporary insanity strategy, and why? What recommendations would you make therapeutically for Janet and her family?
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