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Myths Painted Depressed Mother into Attacker


Miriam Carey, a single mother who was shot to death after running her car into a fence near the White House last week, was at first thought to be a terrorist and then a wild attacker. She turned out to be a former dental hygienist, unarmed, reportedly suffering from postpartum depression with psychosis. Because she was killed by police, we will never know why she drove from Connecticut to Washington that day.

As health policy consultant Paul Gionfriddo of Lake Worth writes in his blog Our Health Policy Matters, the people who knew Miriam Carey best say she was not out to harm anyone and was being treated successfully. But that doesn't fit our national narrative about mental illness, he writes.

Here is an example of the day-after coverage. The only part of the coverage that was accurate, he says, is that federal officials were cowering in their offices because they thought a terrorist was on the loose.