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Véronique Courjault, a terribly ordinary mother?

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From 9 to 17 June, Véronique Courjault, who has confessed to the murder of three of her babies, will be judged before the Assize Court of Indre-et-Loire, Tours. The psychoanalyst Sophie Marinopoulos helps us understand the psychic mechanisms that led this woman to commit the irreparable, and what fascinates us at home.

Sophie Marinopoulos, psychoanalyst and psychologist specializing in difficult maternity, is the author of The Ordinary Life of a murderous mother and In the intimate of mothers ( Fayard, 2008 and 2005).

Violaine Gelly

Why do women like Véronique Courjault fascinate us?

Sophie Marinopoulos: We are fascinated by the "normopaths" (1), these psychically sick people who have an incredible appearance of normality. Véronique Courjault has a husband engineer, she takes care very well of her children, she is appreciated by her entourage, recognized for her discretion and her kindness ... She has qualities that do not go at all with the terrible act she commits. His crime makes us say: it can not be me. And yet, she looks like us. Hence this fascination-repulsion, which is mixed with amazement: we can not imagine the gesture of these mothers. We are in the unthought and the unthinkable.

1. According to the expression created by the psychoanalyst Joyce McDougall, author of Theaters of Je (Gallimard, "Folio essays", 2004).

Could we all be one of these women and act out?

S. M.: We all have a potential for dangerousness, a small psychotic core that we know very well how to protect by containing our impulses, transforming them into emotions, then into feelings that make us enter the relationship with the other. But this small psychotic core is weakened by the lack of connection or care in early childhood. I am not talking here of physical abuse, but of a mechanical and "disaffected" attention that makes the baby can not think of himself as an emotional being. He will grow by systematically canceling all his emotions. In these women, even before denial of pregnancy, pre-existing denial of their own body, of their own affects. They live in terrible psychic poverty, that is emotional and emotional. They seem erased, they are just totally cut off from their emotions; they seem helpful, devoted to the other, they simply do not exist for themselves; we believe them timid, but they have a real inability to express what touches them ...

Why does this rupture of psychic balance occur at the time of pregnancy?

S. M.: Pregnancy is a terrible break in their bodybuilding.And birth is a frightful emotional excesses that can not be channeled and breaks them apart. Childbirth is a fragmentation for every woman who gives birth. But a balanced psyche manages to fight against panic. Neonaticides mothers can not. To protect themselves, in their drive of life, their psychic mechanism will do what it does from the beginning: cancel everything so as not to suffer. And they will kill the child. When justice confronts them with their act, they become aware of its gravity. But before they can understand it, it takes a lot of psychic work.

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