Jun 19 2009

The Price of Superstition

Published by under autism
Comments: 17

I hate reading these stories – A Haitian woman is accused of burning her own daughter, 6 year old  Frantzcia Lauradin, in a ritual designed to purify her of demons. The child’s grandmother did eventually put out the fire, while the mother ignored her child’s screams of agony, but then allegedly put her to bed rather than take her to a hospital.

Only after a day of begging by relatives was she eventually taken to the ER, where she was found to have 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 25% of her body, including part of her face.


The mother, Marie Lauradin, is denying the charges, saying she accidentally spilled some boiling rice on her daughter and did not notice the burns until she was in the ER. As reported, that defense is not credible – a mother not noticing severe burns on her daughter’s face? Such burns would cause someone to scream in agony, making it impossible, in my opinion, to justify the delay in bringing the child to medical attention.

Of course, when I hear of such things I always have to wonder about the sanity of the person accused. Some might say that anyone who could do such a thing to their own child must be crazy – but it is more complicated than that. Extreme ideological beliefs can twist logic and motivate people into extreme actions. This is different from someone who has a brain disorder that makes what the average person would consider logic and reasoning impossible for them.

It’s not possible to judge in this case, with the information provided. That is something the courts will decide.

And as always, to the extent that the mother is mentally ill, this case is just sad and tragic. Then guilt would fall mainly on the grandmother for allowing their mentally ill child to be responsible for their own child. Delaying going to medical attention not only makes the grandmother complicit to a degree, but suggests that she is accustomed to covering up for her daughter, or perhaps is in denial.

However, if mental illness is not in the picture, then this is yet another cautionary tale of the harm that can come when extreme ideology replaces reason and common sense.

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