Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Canada and Russia exchange snarky tweets

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger: Top opposition figure to be questioned in baby-trafficking scandal

Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

France

'Denial of pregnancy is not classified as a psychiatric illness'

Latest update : 2009-06-11

A case of a French mother who hid her smothered newborn babies in a freezer has highlighted the phenomenon of pregnancy denial. FRANCE 24 interviewed Felix Navarro, president of the French Association for the Recognition of Pregnancy Denial.

FRANCE 24 – Is denial of pregnancy considered a medical disorder?


Felix Navarro – No. Denial of pregnancy is not classified as a psychiatric illness. However, doctors know it well. Our objective is indeed to have it recognised. We think that this will make treating those who suffer from it easier. Denial is the act of not recognising what is inevitable, but in these cases the body shows no sign of pregnancy. Normal pregnant women gain weight, but for those who suffer from denial, weight gain is limited to two or three kilos.


We even observed that certain women lost weight while expecting! They often have a flat stomach and go to the beach mere days before delivery. The symptoms are thus reduced, even absent, and often misinterpreted. Certain signs may create confusion. The women very often have their period. Some of them say they suspected they were pregnant, but that the return of their period misled them.


F24 – You describe cases in which the delivery ultimately goes well, but under certain circumstances the result can be tragic. How frequent is this?


F.N. – The great majority of these cases turn out fine. According to the most recent studies, pregnancy denial is present in about one out of 500 deliveries. In France, it’s about 300 cases per year. On the other hand, total denial, meaning when a woman discovers her pregnancy while giving birth, is rarer: one out of 2,500 pregnancies. Each year, there might be a few dozen of these cases where the baby dies. But that includes both natural deaths and murders.


One must understand the circumstances under which these situations arise. A woman who has total pregnancy denial suffers terribly painful symptoms that she doesn’t understand. Her water breaks and she sees something coming out of her body: something she can’t fully discern, something that is sometimes inanimate and that the woman doesn’t necessarily identify as a baby.


The deliveries can happen anywhere; in the bathroom, in the street, in the car, at the office…In all cases, the conditions are not ideal; these women risk their own lives and are certainly not in a position to care for their babies properly.
Certain women are seized by extreme panic, or are delirious, and in a moment of psychosis can do something fatal. Fortunately, most of them suffer pain that incites them to go to the hospital.

 
F24 – This phenomenon is better known today, as certain studies have been published on the subject. Does that mean these women are better taken care of?


F.N. – It's still very inconsistent and often depends on where the women end up. Some women suffering from painful symptoms go to the hospital and are sent home, even though they are about to give birth! But if they’re treated by specialists who are familiar with pregnancy denial, they will be well taken care of. These women are generally misunderstood. I’m not referring to Veronique Courjault, whose specific case I don’t know.

 

F24 – In confirmed cases of pregnancy denial, do the women have criminal intent?


F.N. – How could they, when they don’t even know they're expecting? In these cases, infanticide is not premeditated. The judgment of the women is altered, they’re not aware of what they’re doing. Logically, they should not be tried. They are in a sort of state of temporary insanity. Cases of repeated pregnancy denial are rarer, but do exist – therein lies the utility of treating the women concerned. Some of these women only become aware of their previous infanticides during their trial! In some of these cases an explanation is offered: a repressed psychoanalytic problem – something so deep that it blocks the woman’s own maternity process.


 

Date created : 2009-06-11

COMMENT(S)