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ISSN: 2690-5760

Journal of Clinical & Community Medicine

Mini Review(ISSN: 2690-5760)

Infanticides and Münchhausen Comportments by Mothers Volume 3 - Issue 3

Hugues Scharbach*

  • Paris’s University past Head of psychiatric Service in CHU, Doctor in Psychology (LYON II) National Forensic Expert hon, France

Received:August 02, 2021   Published: August 17, 2021

Corresponding author:Hugues Scharbach, Paris’s University past Head of psychiatric Service in C.H.U., Doctor in Psychology (LYON II) National Forensic Expert hon, France

DOI: 10.32474/JCCM.2021.03.000168


Abstract PDF


Infanticides and Münchhausen ‘s syndrome by proxy concerning a Child

Infanticide may have polymorphic aspects: social: girl’s baby drowns in some countries; during the gestation with steely needle, parsley stalk introduce in genital tract, bicycle saddle pedaling hard, taking toxic substances then, after the birth, suffocation, fatal blows, freezing, even burying. The causes can be social, psychopathological, egocentric, emotional, aesthetic, angry in a type of revenge, MEDEE, such she is described by EURIPIDE, represents the paradigm, although the ambiguity is not absent, based in particular on the painted work of E. DELACROIX, such that she holds, furious, with one hand her 2 children against herself, while the other holds up a dagger seeming about to strike. This fatal acting involves a loss of the ties of filiation’s links, in the context of primary instinct, of « fundamental violence, different from aggressiveness and the death’s pulsion in terms of his goals, distinct from classical drives as to its nature. (J.BERGERET) The child can also be physically abuse-impulsive gestures can lead to injury, sometimes at the level of the skull and the « shaken child syndrome is very real, malnourished, for example by a mother with anorectic’s preoccupation, lowered morally, emotionally disturb during moment of hostile mood of a mother , who can get depressive fluctuations.

Inherent aggressiveness may also appear to be reversed in its pseudo-contrary. The submission to inadequate treatments which could be overruled by inattentive practitioners entering the harmful game through critical negligence. Harmful acts can consist in repetitive intestinal enema -with rice water, as was the case in the past-as well as the temperature by rectal route, for suspected fever, keeping the pseudo-ill child in bed under blankets, in the isolation from others, cut off contact with young people of same age, that he doesn’t meet in school. Sometimes, a small colitis, a diarrhea, a little acme of fever without consequence serves as a starting point for the gear and the child regresses and doesn’t participate in play, game and learning, meeting bad condition of growth. This may have been the case of a mother who is bored or who has follow her husband away from her family circle, some time in another country.

Keywords: Murder of the Child; Newborn; Growing; Fragility of the Mother’s Personality Structure; Etiopathogenic; Environmental Factors; Dramatic Fantasmatisation; Story of Humanity; Sacrifice; Taboo; MEDEE; JASON


Infanticide can take on polymorphous aspects: social: infant girls drowned in some countries, during gestation with needles, parsley stems introduced into the genital tract, recourse to the saddle of the bicycle, taking toxic substances then, afterwards birth, suffocation, beatings, freezing, even burial. The causes can be social, psychopathological, egocentric, affective, aesthetic, emotional, angry like revenge, of which Medea represents the paradigm although the ambiguity is not absent, represented in the work of E. DELACROIX while, furious, she holds her two children against her with one hand, while the other brandishes the dagger ready to strike. This deadly act implies a loss of the bonds of filiation, a decongenerization, in the context of a primary instinct, “of a fundamental violence, different from aggressiveness and the death instinct as to its goals, distinct from the drives. classics as to its nature (J. BERGERET) committed in a context of “black hole” of the psyche when it is not premeditated in an almost paranoid way to deprive the father of his child. The child can also be abused, malnourished, for example by a mother with anorectic concerns. Aggression can appear reversed in its pseudo-opposite: submission to treatments that can be validated by inattentive doctors, such as incessant enemas, isolation in a bed under a patient status, sometimes following a small colitis or infection, which serves as a starting point for chronicization, the child remaining within reach of the mother, without schooling, developing a victimological fantasy.


The blues or depressing crying during some days following a delivery or even aa birth by cesarean are well knwon. During sometimes, the situation may be different when the child presents a malformation, but a hope of medical action remains most often present. The family or caregivers surround the young parturient. Some mothers nurturing deleterious morbid projects often give birth in isolation, in non-medicalized places and pass to the deadly act according to their primitive phantasm of hatred, which is rarely shared by the father or close parents. The father also, moreover, could be abandoning. Paradoxically, in these clandestine births, the delivery is often done quickly, like an evacuation, while the mother has presented discreet signs of pregnancy, easy to mask. However, it’s not to forget, that some newborns can be abandoned or entrusted to works or natal services. In our epidemiologic practice during 50 years in forensic, the frequency of that acting seems to be registered one case upon 1800 considered expertise. The legality of voluntary termination of pregnancy may have also significantly reduced this type of critical situation. Moreover, in FRANCE, the law of 8 January 1993 art. 341-1 allows the X’s declaration of birth.

The Infanticic Acting

We don’t forget that this act is often realized in a frame of existential impreparation and socio-affective trouble, with the risk of being blacklisted of died lined by relatives. and, in a state of disarray, which may subsequently give rise to a feeling of pervasive guilt, that one could be sometimes punctuate later by the arrival of a replacement child, better if it’s happened in the frame of the same union, even after temporary discord. However, some mothers, especially those who have suffered sexual assault during their adolescence, sometimes by a relative, sometimes also repeatedly, may have difficulties surrounding their child with genuine emotional affects and may present ambivalent attitudes, which could be close to MÜNCHHAUSEN by proxy syndrome.

Presentation of two forensic cases

a) Luce, a young adolescent, 17 years old, living in a educational boarding school, gives birth quickly in her bedroom and throws the newborn out of the window, which rebounds on the roof of a she and falls into the schoolyard.

b) Myriam, Muslim girl, fearing the wrath of her brother, her father having died, goes to give birth an at an old lady home of her acquaintance and compensates to isolate herself in a room, on the pretext of fatigue.

She gives birth promptly - the delivery is done quickly – and throws the baby in the garbage chute, while the hostess quietly watches television. The concierge discovers the newborn in the dumpster...Let us mention that, despite her physiological condition, Myriam went to a night club the previous evening.

After having recognized the facts, she changes her version and accused the old lady of the fact, that she had not handed over the baby to a neighbor and, quite the contrary, has left the problem.

Typical Profile

It is about a young woman of less than thirty years old or of a big teenager, having a personality organized in a disharmonic mode with failures of the integration of an elaborated project of existence, after short and weakly invested studies. We identify an obvious affective-emotional immaturity, narcissistic features and infantile goals, as well as weak capacities for insight/introspection and a lack of personal creativity. There is a situation of dependence in certain sectors within the family due to a weak research for autonomation/ empowerment with dysfunction in intergenerational exchanges. Mechanisms of internal exclusion with poor verbalization and anxiety of identification explain that an unrecognized gestation can take place, even if the young girl lives within the family. Of course, there was no medical follow-up, and the self-delivery will take place in clandestine conditions, sometimes in a room under the parental roof. The passage to the homicidal act will take place quickly and the body is then thrown into a septic tank or gutter. After cancellation of the pregnancy, there is a kind of focalization of the product thereof. In this context, the newborn is often found to have the same fate as the placenta. Alongside these deficient infanticides other modalities can be located, responding to more complex conflictualizations. The mythology is rich ot that example: ALTHEE throws the log supporting MELEAGRE’s life into the fire in a movement of grief, when she learnt that he has killed her two brothers. We need also to mention the children sacrificed as part of a religious or demonic ritual, which could refer to perverted sublimation.

Three Clinical OBSERVATIONS will illustrate our point, with aspect of Delivering

a) Lea, 30 years old, eldest of 6 children, comes from a family apparently made up in a traditional way, not experiencing any stumbling blocks during her maturity’s development, at least according to their words. Nethertheeless, that during her high adolescence, she presented two depressive episodes of a reactionary appearance, one of which with anorexia-boulimia. She married at the age of 20 with a man of good technical level, which led the couple to live in AFRICA for a while, until her husband’s contract was terminated. She had work as a secretary. Her husband becoming depressed, her mood reactivates her personal fragility. During an evening, during which he has to go away, she goes to her alone 2-years-old son’s room, suffocates him with his quilt, brings him back to her bed and lying next to him, open her veins. She will wake up in intensive care. Unconsciously, the deterioration of the psychic state of her husband, linked to a break in his job, had been experienced as a betrayaal.

b) Suzan is 30 years old and is the eldest of a sibling of 6 children. She doesn’t describe maturative psychological stumbling blocks before the age of 15, where she obtained her college certificate. After a mediocre period of professional integration, she marries a 6-year-old man, a house painter, who will become a school janitor. After having had the idea at the beginning of her marriage, that she could not have a child, she became a mother of 3, of whom 2 boys. The birth of the second see with prove difficulties. She detaches herself from her husband and becomes depressive with worsening of her thymic state after a hystereectomy. She made a suicide attempt, because her husband refused a divorce and had to be hospitalized. During a leave, receiving only a sedative neuroleptic the evening, she tries, during a W.E., to drown the eldest, who struggles and can save himself, spares the second and succeeds in her deadly gesture with the last. She will explain that she had fallen in love with one of the doctors and that she wanted, by keeping only one child, to appear freer.

c) Cora has achieved a passage to the act of great violence, transcending any expression of the maternal instinct, poisoning her two daughters born of different fathers. Perhaps due to a lack of affective proximity with her parents, of traumatic exchanges, especially since her father would have developed alcoholism and could have gestures too proximal, she had to constitude narcissistic wounds of the personality leading to the development of a sensitivity against a background of egocentrism and overestimation of oneself. After two sentimental failures, despite the birth of a child each time, she was going to have a third, experienced as unbearable and to commit, in a way, as if to avenge herself for the careslessness of her friend, as did MEDEE with regard to JASON. She acts in the frame of the complex describes by A. DEPAULIS.


Infanticide, committed by women, more clearly, concerns newborns but, in a context of narcissistic fragility of the personality, sometimes in relation with acts of violence, sometimes particularly sexual, that may have taken place within her family, during of the maturing evolution. They induce a symbolic repercussion weakening the self-esteem and disturbing the emotional management and the control of the affects. In the context of matriopathic organization, including different aspects of the fantasmatisation considering the age of the young victim. The murder of the child has always been inscribed in the history of humanity, the taboo clearly appearing at the end of the abrahamic alliance, with the metaphorical substitution of circumcription for the sacrifice of the child.