Displeasures of the flesh: A brief look at anthropophagolagnia and paraphilic behaviour in serial killers
In previous blogs I have examined the psychology of sexual cannibalism and erotophonophilia (aka ‘lust murder’) as well as an article that I wrote on serial killers that collect their victims’ body parts as ‘trophies’. One very rare sub-type of both sexual cannibalism and erotophonophilia is anthropophagolagnia. This particular type of sexual paraphilia has been defined by Dr Anil Aggrawal as the paraphilia of “rape with cannibalism” and by the Right Diagnosis website as “sexual urges, preferences or fantasies involving raping and then cannibalizing the victim”.
The Listaholic website goes as far to say that anthropophagolagnia is one of the ten “most bizarre sexual fetishes on earth” claiming that serial killer is the “poster boy” for these “twisted” individuals. Other serial killers that might be classed as anthropophagolagniacs include Albert Fish, Peter Kirsten, Ottis Toole and Ed Gein. However, there also appear to be cases of what I would call ‘systematic anthropophagolagnia’ if the extract I found online is true:
“While it is easy to dismiss one case as stemming from some sort of neurological aberrations in the participants, we also see sexualized cannibalism in modern day Africa. In the early 2000s in Congo, rape and cannibalism were reported to coincide sporadically across the region. The claims are backed by a UN investigation into the phenomena…Rebels would go into villages and rape the women and children, then dismember them alive while eating their flesh. There are many reports of family members being forced to eat the flesh of other murdered family members after being raped…The men committing these atrocities do not have any neurological aberrations, they simply have the power to exercise this behavior. While cannibalism has been practiced in Africa as part of spiritual traditions for centuries, sadistic sexualized torture is not part of that tradition. So why add it in? Presumably the rebels didn’t all happen to be born child rapists either, yet raping children is part of their terror campaign and they must be able to achieve an erection to carry out the task, and so it must be assumed they learned to like it”.
Last year, I also read about 40-year old preacher Stephen Tari, the leader of a 6,000-strong cannibal rape cult in Papua New Guinea. He was in prison following his conviction for a brutal rape but escaped (only to be killed by people from his village in retaliation for the cannibalistic rape murders he had committed). As a report in The Independent noted:
“[Tari] had previously been accused of raping, murdering and eating three girls in front of their traumatised mothers…The charismatic cult leader, who wore white robes and is said to have regularly drunk the blood of his ‘flower girls’, quickly returned to his home village of Gal after [a prison] escape, but could only manage six months before killing yet again…It has not yet been established if the murdered woman was killed as part of a blood sacrifice, but it is considered likely as Tari was said to have been attempting to resurrect his cult following the spell in prison”.
Dr. Eric Hickey (in his book Serial Murderers and Their Victims) notes that paraphilic behaviour is very common among those that commit sexual crimes (and that more than one is often present) but that the two activities (sex offending and paraphilias) may be two independent constructs and that one does not necessarily affect the other. In fact he notes that:
“Rather than paraphilia being caused by sexual pathology, they may be better understood as one of many forms of general social deviance…For the male serial killer, the paraphilia engaged in usually has escalated from softer forms to those that are considered not only criminal but violent as well. They range from unusual to incredibly bizarre and disgusting. As paraphilia develop, men affected by them often engage in several over a period of time. Most men who engage in paraphilia often exhibit three or four different forms, some of them simultaneously. For those with violent tendencies, soft paraphilia can quickly lead to experimentation with hardcore paraphilia that often involves the harming of others in sexual ways. For example, some paraphilic offenders prefer to stalk and sexually assault their victims in stores and other public places without getting caught. The thrill of hunting an unsuspecting victim contributes to sexually arousing the offender”.
Hickey asserts that anthropophagolagnia is one of the so-called ‘attack paraphilias’ (as opposed to the ‘preparatory paraphilias’). Attack paraphilias are described by Hickey as being sexually violent (towards other individuals including children in extreme circumstances). Preparatory paraphilias are defined by Hickey as those “that have been found as part of the lust killer’s sexual fantasies and activities” (including those that display anthropophagolagnia). However, Hickey notes that individuals that engage in preparatory paraphilias do not necessarily go on to become serial killers. He then goes on to say:
“The process of sexual fantasy development may include stealing items from victims. Burglary, although generally considered to be a property crime, also is sometimes a property crime for sexual purposes. Stealing underwear, toiletries, hair clippings, photographs, and other personal items provides the offender with souvenirs for him to fantasize over”.
Some of the examples Hickey cites are both revealing and psychologically interesting:
“One offender noted how he would climax each time he entered a victim’s home through a window. The thought of being alone with people sleeping in the house had become deeply eroticized. Another offender likes to break into homes and watch victims sleep. He eventually will touch the victim and will only leave when she begins to scream. He ‘began’ his sexual acting out as a voyeur. This paraphilic process was also examined by Purcell and Arrigo (2001), who note that the process consists of mutually interactive elements: paraphilic stimuli and fantasy; orgasmic conditioning process; and facilitators (drugs, alcohol, and pornography). The probability of the offender harming a victim is extremely high given the progressive nature of his sexual fantasies”.
Along with anthropophagolagnia, other ‘attack paraphilias’ that have been associated with serial killers include amokoscisia (sexual arousal or sexual frenzy from a desire to slash or mutilate other individuals [typically women]), anophelorastia (sexual arousal from defiling or ravaging another individual), biastophilia (sexual arousal from violently raping other individuals; also called raptophilia), dippoldism (sexual arousal from abusing children, typically in the form of spanking and corporal punishment), necrophilia (sexual arousal from having sex with acts with dead individuals), paedophilia (sexual arousal from having sex with minors typically via manipulation and grooming), and sexual sadism (empowerment and sexual arousal derived from inflicting pain and/or injuring other individuals).
The ‘preparatory paraphilias’ that typically precede serial killing and attack paraphilias such as anthropophagolagnia include agonophilia (sexual arousal caused by a sexual partner pretending to struggle), altocalciphilia (sexual arousal from high-heeled shoes), autonecrophilia (sexual arousal by imagining oneself as a dead person), exhibitionism (exposing genitals to inappropriate and/or non-consenting people for sexual arousal), frottage (sexual arousal from rubbing up against the body against a sexual partner or object), gerontophilia (sexual arousal from someone whose age is older and that of a different generation), hebephilia (men that are sexually aroused by aroused by teenagers), kleptolagnia (sexual arousal from stealing), retifism (sexual arousal from shoes), scatophilia (sexual arousal via making telephone calls, using vulgar language, and/or trying to elicit a reaction from the other party), scoptophilia (sexual arousal by watching others [typically engaged in sexual behaviour] without their consent, and more usually referred to as voyeurism), and somnophilia (sexual arousal from fondling strangers in their sleep). The multiplicity of co-existent paraphilias (including anthropophagolagnia) is highlighted by the Wikipedia entry on Jeffrey Dahmer:
“Dahmer readily admitted to having engaged in a number of paraphilic behaviors, including necrophilia, exhibitionism, hebephilia, fetishism, pygmalionism, and erotophonophilia. He is also known to have several partialisms, including anthropophagy (also known as cannibalism). One particular focus of Dahmer’s partialism was the victim’s chest area. By his own admission, what caught his attention to Steven Hicks hitchhiking in 1978 was the fact the youth was bare-chested; he also conceded it was possible that his viewing the exposed chest of Steven Tuomi in 1987 while in a drunken stupor may have led him to unsuccessfully attempt to tear Tuomi’s heart from his chest. Moreover, almost all the murders Dahmer committed from 1990 onwards involved a ritual of posing the victims’ bodies in suggestive positions – many pictures taken prior to dismemberment depict the victims’ bodies with the chest thrust outwards. Dahmer also derived sexual pleasure from the viscera of his victims; he would often masturbate and ejaculate into the body cavity and at other times, literally used the internal organs as a masturbatory aid”.
Almost nothing is known empirically about anthropophagolagnia except that it is very rare and that almost all information about it comes from serial killers that have been caught. Explanations for the development of anthropophagolagnia can only be speculated but are likely to be no different from the development of other paraphilic behaviour. Hickey (citing Irwin Sarason and Barbara Sarason’s Abnormal Psychology textbook) notes five key explanations for the development of paraphilias (reproduced below verbatim):
- Psychodynamic – paraphilic behavior as a manifestation of unresolved conflicts during psychosexual development;
- Behavioral – paraphilia is developed through conditioning, modeling, reinforcement, punishment, and rewards, the same process that normal sexual activity is learned;
- Cognitive – paraphilia become substitutes for appropriate social and sexual functioning or the inability to develop satisfying marital relationships;
- Biological – heredity, prenatal hormone environment, and factors contributing to gender identity can facilitate paraphilic interests. Other explanations are linked to brain malfunctioning and chromosomal abnormalities;
- Interactional – that development of paraphilia is a process that results from psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and biological factors.
As an eclectic, I favour the interactional explanation for the existence of anthropophagolagnia but also believe that the most important influences are the behavioural aspects via classical and operant conditioning processes.
Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Hall, J. (2013). ‘Black Jesus’ murder: Leader of 6,000-strong cannibal rape cult hacked to death by villagers in Papua New Guinea jungle after killing yet again. The Independent, August 30. Located at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/black-jesus-murder-leader-of-6000strong-cannibal-rape-cult-hacked-to-death-by-villagers-in-papua-new-guinea-jungle-after-killing-yet-again-8791967.html
Hickey, E. W. (Ed.). (2003). Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime. London: Sage Publications
Hickey, E. W. (2010). Serial Murderers and Their Victims (Fifth Edition). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Purcell, C., and B. Arrigo. (2001). Explaining paraphilias and lust murder: Toward an integrated model. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45(1), 6–31.
Sarason, I. G. and B. R. Sarason. (2004). Abnormal Psychology, 11th Edition. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
Wikipedia (2014). Jeffrey Dahmer. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Dahmer
Today’s blog is the third part in my review of little researched (and in most cases non-researched) sexual paraphilias and strange sexual behaviours. (You can read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here). I’ve tried to locate information on all of these alleged sexual behaviours listed below and in some cases have found nothing more than a definition (some of which were in Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices and/or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices).
- Agrexophilia: This behaviour refers to the gaining of sexual arousal from other people knowing that you are having sex. According to the online Probert Encyclopedia, agrexophilia is “sexual arousal from the knowledge that other people may become aware of the lovemaking, for example by being overheard or seen”.
- Brachioproctic eroticism: According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, brachioproctic eroticism (also known as brachioproctism) refers to the “insertion of the arm into the rectum of another person for sexual pleasure”.
- Catagelophilia: This refers to being sexually aroused from being ridiculed. This appears to be the opposite of categelophobia (ridicule phobia).
- Dystychiphilia: According to Dt. Anil Aggrawal, dystychiphilia refers to those that derive sexual pleasure from accidents (although what “accidents” refers to in these cases is left undefined). The Squackle.com website provides the example of “dropping a plate on the floor”. The online Medical Dictionary defines it as “paraphilic sexuoeroticism linked to watching or participating in accidents” and adds that “it is not used to working medical parlance”.
- Endytolagnia: Most definitions of endytolagnia say it refers to sexual arousal from partners who are fully clothed. The Word Information website defines it as a “sexual perversion in which sexual intercourse is had with a fully dressed female”.
- Frictation: This is a form of frotteurism, and according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, frictation is “a sexual practice in which two male partners achieve sexual satisfaction by rubbing against each other while in a face-to-face position. (The female counterpart is known as tribadism)”. (Tribadism as far as I am aware is the mutual rubbing of clitorises – sometimes called ‘tribbing’ – and gave rise to the term ‘Scissor Sisters’).
- Graophilia: This behaviour 9according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal) refers to sexual arousal from an older female partner. I’m assuming this refers to the woman being significantly older but no definition I have come across explicitly mentions what the age difference needs to be.
- Hygrophilia: This behaviour refers to arousal from body fluids or moisture (although it’s also the name of a plant. The Right Diagnosis website adds that hygrophilia is (i) sexual interest in body secretions, (ii) recurring intense sexual fantasies involving body secretions, and/or (iii) recurring intense sexual urges involving body secretions.
- Iantronudia: This behaviour refers to getting sexually aroused from exposing oneself to a physician, usually by faking an ailment. Some websites refer to it as “flashing a physician”.
- Jactitation: According to Wikipedia, in English Law, jactitation “is the maliciously boasting or giving out by one party that he or she is married to the other”. However, some online sites claim that it is a false boast that causes harm to others, and is sometimes sexual. The Right Diagnosis website claims jactitation “refers to sexual arousal or excitement derived from discussing their own sexual exploits”.
- Knissophilia: This behaviour may well be a sub-type of olfactophilia as (according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal) refers to the sexual attraction of incense-burning.
- Loutrophilia: This behaviour refers to the love of washing or bathing. Such a definition does not necessarily make this a sexual paraphilia although someone on the Kinkopedia website claimed they had loutrophilia. This may be a sub-type of aquaphilia that I examined in a previous blog.
- Mammagymnophilia: This refers to sexual arousal from female breasts and on various websites it has also been called breast fetishism, mazophilia, and breast partialism.
- Nemophilia: This behavioud has been defined as the love and/or sexual arousal from forests (and as such might be similar to dendrophilia that I discussed in a previous blog). The online Urban Dictionary defines nemophilia as “the love of spending time in forests or woodland; woodland survival training, as practised by the armed forces could, therefore, be considered the equivalent of sex”.
- Oikophilia: This behaviour has been defined by Dr. Anil Aggrawal as the sexual attraction to one’s home. The word has also been used (by such people as the philosopher Roger Scruton) to denote the love of houses but in this sense it has no sexual connotations whatsoever.
- Phallophilia: This behaviour refers to those individuals that have a large penis fetish or preference. The Right Diagnosis website defines it as “urges, preferences or fantasies involving [an] unusually large erect penis”
- Queeb fetish: Queeb fetish is actually another term for ‘queef fetish’ and refers to those individuals that are sexually aroused by vaginal farts (and which I examined in a previous blog on queefing).
- Raptophilia: According to the Right Diagnosis website, raptophilia refers to a “sexual interest in rape, an abnormal amount of time spent thinking about raping a victim, recurring intense sexual fantasies involving rape, and recurring intense sexual urges involving rape”. Other websites claim that this paraphilia only concerns the fantasy of raping someone rather than the act of actually doing it. According to Wikipedia, raptophilia is another name for biastophilia (a sexual paraphilia “in which sexual arousal is dependent on, or is responsive to, the act of assaulting an unconsenting person, especially a stranger”).
- Sarmassophilia: According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, sarmassophilia refers to sexual arousal from kneading flesh (and appears to derive from its opposite, sarmassophobia). The Encyclo website defines it more generally as “a fondness for amorous caressing, necking, or stroking”.
- Toxophilia: I’m not sure if this related to the sexy image of Robin Hood, but according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, toxophilia refers to sexual arousal from archery.
- Vincilagnia: There is actually loads of empirical research on vincilagnia as it is just an old scientific name for those that are sexually aroused from bondage (see the overview at the Nation Master website)
- Wind Fetish: This has nothing to do with eproctophilia (sexual arousal for flatulence), but is (according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal) is a “sexual attraction to being blown by the wind”.
- Xanthophilia: This behaviour refers to individuals that have an “abnormal affection” for the color yellow or the word yellow. Appears to be derived from its opposite (xanthophobia) so is likely to be more theoretical than actual.
- Yeast infection fetish: There appear to be some individuals that have a fetish for ‘thrush’ (yeast infections) as discussed at various online forums (such as one on the Reddit website). For instance one man confessed: “I have never told anyone in my life this before, but since I was young (about 12 years old) I used to love the smell when I put my face in my mom’s lap. It was a little fishy odd kind of odor but always super attractive to me. A while after this the smell went away and I was very disappointed. Later I found out that she had a yeast infection. To this day however i cannot resist the smell of the yeast infection vagina. It is like field of roses to me, ethereal, heavenly”.
- Zemmiphilia: According to a long list of obscure paraphilias at the Write World website, zemmiphilia refers to an “abnormal affection for the great mole rat”. I would guess this is theoretical rather than actual but I would never rule anything out.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Gates, K. (2000). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. New York: RE/Search Publications.
Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.
Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437.
Write World (2013). Philias. Located at: http://writeworld.tumblr.com/philiaquirks