The outpouring of grief over the alleged murder of eight babies in France’s worst case of infanticide is giving way to questions over the mental health of a woman who is said to have concealed her pregnancies from the entire world.
Despite Dominique Cottrez’s confession, detectives in the small northern French village of Villers-au-Tertre are still looking for more victims.
“When a woman does not know she’s pregnant, that a baby is growing inside her, she can automatically change her body’s morphology just by unconsciously working her abdominal muscles which keeps the uterus in position instead of it moving forward. In this way, the pregnancy passes completly un-noticed, not only for the woman herself, but also for doctors and generally speaking for the husband,” said Professor Israel Nisand, a gynaecologist at Strasbourg University Hospital.
Police have released her husband who is said to have been unaware of what was happening.
Some experts say she may have knowingly been pregnant but her psychological condition blocked out her maternal instincts.
“When there is an interior conflict which someone does not want to recognise or admit to having, then that person is condemned to repeat that action,” according to psychoanalyst Doctor Pierre Levy-Soussan.
“For her, this act is not important, or at least does not have the importance that we attach to it, so from the moment when this act has no sense and is not conscious, it will be repeated,” he added.
Police have charged the 47-year-old auxillary nurse with murder after the discovery of the babies corpses at two sites in the small village near Lille.