Friday, May 18, 2012

The Suicide of Mary Richardson Kennedy

It is extremely rare for a mother of four children to commit suicide. Abandoning and traumatizing children is not in a mother’s DNA.

One imagines that only under the most extreme conditions would Mary Richardson Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. have hung herself in the barn.

To me, the manner of her death made a statement. When she hung herself she was trying to say something to someone, if not to the world.

Since Mary Kennedy and her husband belong to the liberal aristocracy, the New York Times is already out with a story absolving Robert Kennedy of any and all responsibility in his wife’s death.

According to the crack investigative reporters at the Times, Robert Kennedy feels very, very bad about all of it.

The paper portrays Kennedy as a long-suffering husband, trying valiantly to help his wife overcome her mental illness and feeling that he had no other recourse than to leave her.

The article makes it appear that Robert Kennedy did nothing that might have contributed to his wife’s depression. It says nothing about his philandering.

The Times tells of one occasion when Mary Kennedy refused treatment for her illness. It has nothing to say about the wondrous new treatments for the illness.

The moral of this story is that the New York Times will rush to defend the reputation of any liberal, especially a Kennedy, about as quickly as it will rush to attack the reputation of any conservative.

Of course, clear thinking people no longer rely on the New York Times for news. If they want to find a more complete picture of what was going on in the marriage of these two environmental activists, they turn to the New York Post.

Here is the Post’s story:

Mary Richardson Kennedy was deep in credit-card debt and getting hammered in divorce court when she hanged herself in a barn on her Westchester estate, friends and documents revealed yesterday.

Robert Francis Kennedy Jr. slapped the mother of his four children with several restraining orders, trying to get full custody of the kids — all while he publicly replaced her with his actress girlfriend, Cheryl Hines.

“He was kicking her while she’s down, all alone in this house that she built,” a close friend said. “In the end, everything was just too much.”

And debt collectors were breathing down her neck.

American Express filed a civil suit against Mary in Westchester on April 16, an astounding revelation for someone whose husband has access to the Kennedy trust fund.

If your estranged wife was ill, would you cut off all of her financial support? Would you be trying to destroy her in court? Would you try to take away from her everything that she lived for? Remember that she is the mother of your children. What would you do?

Mary Kennedy was being destroyed by Robert Kennedy. She had no resources of her own and must have felt that she could no longer fight.

The Post reports:

Court records show Kennedy relentlessly built a case against Mary in their custody battle.

 Kennedy, 58 — the son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy — filed temporary restraining orders against Mary that a Westchester judge signed on March 28, April 19 and again last Friday, documents show.

He also filed an order of protection last September and got another judge to hold her in contempt of court later that month.

The two were due back on Aug. 10. A four-day trial scheduled for September could have resulted in her losing custody. Records in the case are sealed.

Mary also feared getting booted from her estate on South Bedford Road in Mount Kisco — a 10,000-square foot, 1920s farmhouse that was fully renovated in 2007 to be a model of “eco-friendly” building.

 Mary, an architect who gave up her career to raise her family, took charge of every detail, one of her friends said.

“She was going to have to leave her home, the home that she built and made completely eco-friendly, and where would she go?” another friend said.

And then there was the public humiliation. Her Kennedy husband did not even bother to be discreet about his new relationship:

Mary also felt publicly embarrassed as Kennedy carried on his high-profile romance with “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Hines, sources said.

“She faced losing her kids, and his relationship with Cheryl Hines was humiliating. At an event last month, he walked the red carpet with Cheryl as a couple and took the kids,” a source said of the Riverkeeper Annual Fisherman’s Ball in late April.

It’s one thing to say that someone was depressed. It’s quite another to say that she might have had some very good reasons to feel depressed.

When your husband takes your eco-friendly home, your children, and your dignity, when he reduces you to nothing, how can you fight back?

The story reminds me of the suicide of Sylvia Plath.

Poetess Plath, a mother of two young children, was abandoned by her husband, poet Ted Hughes, in favor of a woman named Assia Wevill. She stuck her head in an oven and killed herself. At the time of Plath’s suicide Wevill was pregnant with Hughes’ child. Link here.

The Plath suicide has received an enormous amount of attention, because feminists have almost universally blamed it on her philandering husband, Ted Hughes.

They and we know that Plath had long suffered from depression. Yet, as a woman who martyred herself for the feminist cause she has been idolized ever since as a victim of male misogyny.

Now, how many of today’s feminists do you think will come forward to defend Mary Richardson Kennedy? How many of them will see her suicide as a sign of male perfidy?

Don’t hold your breath.


winteryknight said...

Excellent post! It reminds me of the Ted Kennedy - May Jo Kopechne incident. Or the John Edwards - Elizabeth Edwards incident.

CatherineM said...

Wintryknight - Or Joe Kennedy II who sought to erase his first wife and mother of his two sons from existance with an anullment.

I don't like RFK jr or any of Bobby's kids because they all trade so readily on their name. Douglas Kennedy made the news recently for being expelled from the hospital where his first child was born because he tried to leave the hospital with the baby before the mom and baby were released. He acutally fought the nurses, baby in hand (as the video shows) because rules don't apply to these people. He then appealed to the media saying they need to understand his actions, his father was murdered when he was young and his becoming a father brought up "emotions." What a creep.

RFK jr. calls vaccine creators and biologists who don't agree with his crazy theories as biostitutes. I believe he should share the blame for every kid who dies of disease preventable by vaccines because of the way he deomonizes them and the doctors (and of course, making millions as an "environmentalist.")

Creeps. All of them.

Deadman said...

I seem to remember that Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s company, with $17 million in revenue, scored an amazing $1.4 billion from taxpayers, thanks to the Benevolent, Supreme Leader, Obama.
You’d think he could afford to be a little generous.

Anonymous said...

The "Kennedy Curse"?? NO it's more like the wake of destruction their RECKLESS BEHAVOIR leaves in their path- especially for the women in their lives!! Let's not forget how JFK jr. took his wife & her sister with him when he piloted a plane injured & with minimal experience, killing both of those young women. And who could forget Teddy antics, William Kennedy Smith, and still wondering what John and Bobby had to do with Marilyn Monroe's death!!

Dennis said...

What does one expect from a family whose fortune was built on ill gotten gains. I can remember as a kid my grandmother stating that she and a lot of other women served coffee to Kennedy's henchmen while they unload illegal scotch off the boats. As I remember it was around Wellsfleet (sp), MA. One cannot spend their time playing in the mud without getting on them.
I would suspect that Clinton got his ideas about women being a throw away item to be used and abused from the Kennedy's and the desire of the "media" to perpetuate "Camelot." One wonders how many other acts that might be illegal or questionable the "media" covered up.
And one wonders why Jacqueline Kennedy had no trouble moving to Onassis. JFK had so many affairs happening in the White House at one time that it might as well been dubbed the "Whore House." Clinton was a picker and an also ran in this department. The Kennedys sullied almost everything they touched.
I guess I will never understand the desire , in a free country, to create a royalty especially of the Kennedys.

Gringo said...

The Kennedys are well practiced in destroying those whom they would divorce. When Ted was still married to Joan, the tabloids were filled with stories about Joan's problems with alcohol. What about Ted's problems with alcohol? The tabloids were silent about Ted's problems with alcohol, in spite of ample evidence.

All those stories about Joan's booze problems probably helped Ted get a smaller divorce settlement. Say what you will about the Kennedys,they aren't stupid.

Anonymous said...

Why are you trying to spin and twist this deep tragedy of human frailty into your political agenda? It's very offensive.

Anonymous said...

Wellfleet, Massachusetts: I agree with the writer of this post. It's a shame there isn't more criticism of Robert Kennedy, Jr.'s behavior. How can a man who supposedly is so devoted to Mother Earth treat the mother of his children this way. I believe the New York Post's article because what happened to Mary Kennedy happened to me, and has happened to many women who marry addicts who don't take responsibility for their choices, and find scapegoats for their failures. Mary had very good reasons to be depressed -- she was totally betrayed by her husband who robbed her of her dignity as a woman, wife and mother. I have been thinking of Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Edwards a lot in the last few days, and of the women I personally know who simply could not go on after spousal betrayal/abandonment and/or vicious, abusive divorces. Goddess rest Mary Richardson and bless her children.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Let's keep in mind that the siblings of Mary Richardson Kennedy did not attend the memorial service that Robert Kennedy held for her. And that they did not invite him to the memorial service that they are going to hold for her.

I am reporting on a situation, not inventing things to advance an agenda. The feelings of Mary Richardson's family are certainly relevant in a story about a public figure.

Brenda said...

I like your piece on the Mary Kennedy death (also like the name of your blog!)

FWIW, I am politically liberal (although I did contribute to the Ron Paul campaign several times) and have generally feminist orientation, and yes, I agree with your assessment of Robert Kennedy Jr, also agree with your Sylvia Plath analogy. I think that RFK Jr. hounded his wife to her death and that he likely will not suffer for this.

Also, this kind of thing is going on with all kinds of people in this country, not just with well-known celebrities.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, Brenda. I certainly hope that this issue does not divide people on partisan lines.

I too have seen similar things happen, and have been horrified. It's worth having more and more people be aware of the kinds of psychological warfare that is most often directed at women.

Kay said...

filed temporary restraining orders against Mary that a Westchester judge signed on March 28, April 19 and again last Friday

"last Friday" was just before Mother's day... how truly heartbreaking. Her children will bear this grief well into their old age.

After hearing RFK's blather about vaccines and autism links these past few years and losing all respect for him, I thought he had nowhere to go but up. Apparently I was wrong.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I hadn't noticed that it was the Friday before Mother's Day... the extent of the psychological torture is almost unimaginable.

As I just mentioned in a comment on the other post about this, I join you in deploring the damage that this is going to do to her children.

Anonymous said...

Amen Mr Schneiderman! Thank you for saying all of this. I didn't know MRK but her suicide just tore at my heart. I have been thinking about her for days. To me, it comes down to it being very possible for someone to destroy another person's Will for life. Take away enough of the life sustaining supports and then humiliate a person and isolate them and you are responsible for driving the nails into the casket.
Horrifying to think about but I wondered as well about MRK's choice of suicide method.
Did she think that death by pill overdose could be easily covered up...or glossed over? Hanging is a clear sign of extreme pain and clear intent. So sad. Rest in peace sweet Mary.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

You are very welcome, of course. I hadn't thought of it, but an overdose of pills could very easily have been covered up. A hanging is difficult to see as an accident, or as unintentional.

Anonymous said...

Your analysis of the situation is solid, but you leave out the reported component of a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder for Mrs. Kennedy. BPD, as you likely know, isn't a disorder that starts when a spouse cheats or is abusive. Its roots are in childhood, and, for many, it proves to be an intractable, incurable disease. A major reason for this can often be due to the patient's inability to accept the diagnosis or inability to engage in the work required to affect change in her life in order to reduce the symptoms and impact of BPD on daily life. From published articles, it appears that Mrs. Kennedy was self-medicating her BPD, rather than undergoing effective therapies, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Why do you not speak to this part of her story in your blog entry? It is every bit as essential to her end, if not more so, as the allegations of her husband's adultery.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The best and most comprehensive information about MRK's mental state and her BPD appeared yesterday. That's why I did not speak of it earlier. But, rest assured I have been thinking about it since then and will post about it as soon as I collect mythoughts.

Anonymous said...

She was a brilliant architect,a loving and sensitive wife,mother and friend.She was driven to illness by her spouse.Her family and non-kennedy friends have stated the media spin is inaccurate.The media portray a woman wholly inconsistent to the daughter,sister and friend they knew.She was driven to her demise by her husband.

jhlstyle said...

I am from Bedford, NY, and lived in a similar hell to that of Mary Kennedy. My ex did all the same things to me - but also beat me for 20 years. Diagnosed as a psychopath, he turned my sons against me in a high conflict divorce. The law guardian was same, the forensic psychologist was my blog, Until You Say Uncle. Thank you for writing what you wrote- Mary Kennedy loved her children too much to leave them such a terrible legacy......:

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you for drawing our attention to your story. It is terrifying and harrowing. I do hope that you are doing better.

It is hard to imagine that these kinds of things happen, and it is even harder to imagine that mental health professionals, to say nothing of lawyers, collude with these efforts to destroy wives.

I wrote this post and a couple of others to try to show people how this form of psychological torture works and in order for people to cease blaming MRK's mental illness for her problems.

Anonymous said...

it is one year after Mary death and still soo sad and devastating!

Anonymous said...

I do not think she was bypolar, but i do beleive she was depressed. leaving with a cheating man and closing your eyes because of your children is very hard. In the end she lost everything , facing bancrupcy, lost children, husband, losing home and hope and will to leave. Also all this antidepresant can change your personality and she was taking too many different once.

Anonymous said...

As we know man always come up with different mental disorders for women to win in court. She was mistreated and build up anger for her hsuband drove her into depression amd she was over medicated. Also being broke and losing children was a last siroke.