Pregnancy Denial-- a real psychological disorder?

  1. I was reading about the woman on trial in France for killing and freezing her newborn babies. Some are claiming she suffered from a psychological disorder known as 'Pregnancy Denial'. Has anyone seen this?

    Babes-in-freezer trial grips France

    From the article:

    In the run-up to her trial, it seems that every leading pregnancy expert in France has been interviewed by the media - and suddenly people here are no longer talking about premeditated murder, they are talking about an intriguing psychological condition called pregnancy denial.

    In the flood of articles on the subject this week, it was a double-page spread in the left-leaning Liberation which really grabbed my attention.

    The figures the paper gave were startling - every year in France, between 1,600 and 2,000 women apparently suffer from pregnancy denial, and at least 230 discover or admit they're pregnant only at the moment they give birth.

    Surprisingly, most of the examples cited were not of teenage girls who had never had a baby - they were mainly mothers of at least two children who were all so mentally opposed to the thought of having another child that they didn't show a single physical symptom of their pregnancy.

    Apart from a tiny weight gain of one or two kilos there were no visible changes to their bodies. Many of the women even continued to menstruate - the need to deny the pregnancy was so strong, explained doctors, that the mind controlled the body and suppressed all external manifestations of the pregnancy.
  2. Visit FireStarterRN profile page

    About FireStarterRN

    Joined: Jun '07; Posts: 5,292; Likes: 7,635
    Freelancing
    Specialty: 15 year(s) of experience in LTC, Med/Surg, Peds, ICU, Tele

    24 Comments

  3. by   Morning-glory
    How wierd is that?
  4. by   Cherybaby
    Don't know about pregnancy denial necessarily, but there is a fascinating show on the Discovery Channel called "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant". So many of these women had all the s/s of being pregnant...but still didn't realize.

    I think in a lot of cases, they just didn't acknowledge. Who knows? This may be a new phenomenon for the DSM books.

    http://health.discovery.com/tv/i-did...ant/about.html
  5. by   momandstudent
    Wow, this is hmmm...I can't find the words.
  6. by   83studentnurse
    An instructor of mine who works in the ER said she gets patients all the time who come in complaining of unexplained stomach pain only to give birth to a baby they didn't know they were carrying (sometimes at or close to term!). She said it's happened so many times she now does a pregnancy test on EVERY patient of childbearing age.

    It's very bizarre to think about, but I do believe that the mind has immense control over the body! I've heard of patients who are so desperate to have children they begin to demonstrate s/s of pregnancy although they're not pregnant. Of course, it's always a good idea to take psychological theories put forward by defense lawyers with a grain of salt.
  7. by   PedsAtHeart
    I thought it was impossible to actually mentruate while pregnant. I know you can have some spotting that some may think to be their period, but I have always heard Doctors say that you cannot have a period while you are pregnant?
  8. by   FireStarterRN
    Quote from smanion
    I thought it was impossible to actually mentruate while pregnant. I know you can have some spotting that some may think to be their period, but I have always heard Doctors say that you cannot have a period while you are pregnant?
    That's what I thought, other than spotting in the first trimester.
  9. by   Katnip
    I've seen a few women in the ED deliver full term kids who, even during labor, insisted they could not possibly be pregnant. It wasn't that they just didn't know, they just denied it up to delivery, and then argued with the OB when they came that the child couldn't be theirs. Very strange.
  10. by   FireStarterRN
    Quote from Katnip
    I've seen a few women in the ED deliver full term kids who, even during labor, insisted they could not possibly be pregnant. It wasn't that they just didn't know, they just denied it up to delivery, and then argued with the OB when they came that the child couldn't be theirs. Very strange.
    Did they look pregnant when they came in?
  11. by   Morning-glory
    A patient once had 2 uteruses and had 2 sets of ovaries. One was pregnant the other continued to cycle. She miscarried because of the wonky hormones. Not the usual state of affairs, but maybe a long shot explanation?
  12. by   83studentnurse
    I know that under normal conditions, you can't menstruate when you're pregnant. However, under normal conditions you can't lactate when you're not pregnant, either, and there are documented cases of women with "hysterical pregnancies" lactating, having abdominal swelling and other signs of pregnancy. So who knows what physical symptoms the body can have when the mind is convinced! Bizarre but interesting stuff!
  13. by   PedsAtHeart
    My grandmother had a hysterical pregnancy. Stomach got big and everything.
  14. by   FireStarterRN
    Goes to show the power of the mind. I wonder if mankind will ever learn to harness that power in a conscious way?

close