November 15, 2010
Susan Smith: A DSM IV Analysis
On October 25, 1994, late in the evening. Susan Smith decided to take her two sons, Michael and Alex for a drive; little did they know it would be their last. Susan Smith drove her two sleeping children to a ramp off of a lake, jumped out of the car, released the brake, and stood by as the car drifted off and descended into the water. There is no doubt that this unspeakable act was not just a random, isolated moment of insanity of a young mother, but was the most extreme breaking point in a life that was poisoned early on by instability and abuse. To a healthy individual, there is no reasonable explanation for someone to commit such an act, but in Susan Smith’s mind, the months, and even years leading up to this horrible night are relevant. In this essay, the DSM IV will be used to construct a general psychological analysis of Susan Smith and what theoretical perspective offers the best explanation for her behavior(Montaldo, 2010).
Susan Smith’s life was plagued with tragedies and abuse. When she was seven years old, hear parents divorced, then just five weeks later, her father committed suicide. This devastated Susan to the point that she became very distant(Montaldo, 2010). It wasn’t long before Susan’s mother remarried to a successful businessman. On the surface, the family appeared to be normal, but underneath the all-Amaerican family facade, incest was the families deepest secret. For many years, Susan Smith’s step father carried on an inappropriate sexual relationship with her. When Susan tried to report the abuse to her mother and to social services, little was done other than the step father moving out for a short while. Susan’s mother and the rest of the family was more concerned with their reputation being publicly questioned rather than the safety and metal health of Susan. Susan’s stepfather eventually moved back in only to continue to...