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Necrophilia: A Relationship Between the Living and the Dead

A dead boby of a person. / Photo by: Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123RF

 

People do a great many things with the dead: they worship them,  they fear them, they respect them, defile them, investigate them, and in some cases, even eat them. This fascination and even obsession of the living has towards the dead has not died down through history. Corpses and what goes beyond death has remained an enigma to most people.

The relationship between the living and the dead transcends from spiritual to physical.

In choosing a romantic partner, humans have never had just one exact preference for a lover. Some like them Asian. Some like them American. Some like them tall and some like them short. Some like them real. Some like them virtual. Yet, some people still, a select number, like them in the ground, a few days or years dead.

Dr. Lehmiller mentions in his article "No Bones About It: What Motivates Necrophilic Behaviors?", that an astounding 95% of that number is composed of men.

The people who like them dead are people who are known to have necrophilia, which is, in essence, a desire to make love with a corpse.

According to Sex Info Online, 0-5% of the world are necrophiliacs.

There are so many questions and issues that surround necrophilia. It certainly is not normal but should it be normalized? Can a truly sane person be a necrophiliac? Is it actually wrong? Should it or should it not be legalized?

Moral and logical grounds clash when people discuss necrophilia. Even lawmakers feel that it is a sensitive subject and would rather not discuss the topic since its technicalities are quite complicated. Oftentimes, they do not know what to do with it and opt to leave it alone except when they are confronted by it due to the crimes which are sometimes committed by these necrophiliacs.

However, what about the necrophiliacs that do not engage in criminal activities? Does having necrophilia immediately make you a bad person or does it just make you eccentric?

We will attempt to answer these questions in this analysis.  

 

What is Necrophilia?

 

Annil Aggrawal, a teacher of Forensic Medicine in Maulana Azad Medical College, states in the Journal of Forensic Medicine that  necrophilia is “a paraphilia whereby the perpetrator gets sexual pleasure in having sex with the dead.”

In Manaal Siddiqui’s article,10 Horrifying Cases of Necrophilia That Will Make You Cringe,  its definition is, “having sexual feelings or activities that involve dead bodies.”

Jonathan Rosman and Philip Resnik, authors of Sexual Attraction to Corpses: A Psychiatric Review of Necrophilia, define it simply as, “a sexual attraction to corpses” that is a rare disorder.

According to Vice.com, the term necrophilia was first invented in 1850. It was a term in a lecture used by a Belgian psychologist by the name of Joseph Guislain to refer to Francois Betraud, a person who was arrested for digging up graves and ravaging corpses. The term only became popular when Richard Kraft-Ebing also used it in his psychiatric book, Psycopathia Sexualis, which they described was “ground-breaking psychiatric work.”

Necrophilia can range from just lusting and fantasizing over dead bodies to actually using those corpses for sexual pleasure.

Being a necrophile is shunned and a cause of bewilderment to many. In the general society, most consider engaging in activities relating to necrophilia taboo. The idea that there are individuals who enjoy having intercourse with an already lifeless body is a concept that seems almost inconceivable to the public.

Aggrawal even refers to it as, “one of the most weird, bizarre and revolting practices of abnormal and perverse sensuality.”

However, there are those who, having necrophilia wonder what seems to be the issue of feeling a romantic affinity to corpses. Technically, they are not hurting or degrading anyone since a corpse is basically a body that is no longer needed. They advocate that they are just utilizing a body that is no longer in use, which they deem to be more productive than keeping it buried.

Supervert, in his book, Necrophilia Variations, states, “Do you prefer your corpse to be a waste product or a sex object? When you put it that way, you would think that people would naturally prefer to be a sex object. After all, to say your body becomes a waste product is to say that when you die, you become excrement.”

Another account of a necrophiliac defending his necrophilism is found in Daniel Oberhaus’ article, The Little Death: Living and Loving as a Necrophiliac.

When Oberhaus interviewed Hayden, an 18-year-old necrophiliac, he stated, “ Most people don’t like the idea of someone fondling their corpse, or especially having intercourse with it. I find this hilarious--it’s not like they’d need it anymore, anyway. Really, I feel like it shouldn’t be as big as a problem as it is. The media and the courts blow it all up.”

He also adds, “People have different attractions. Mine just happens to be corpses.”

In the same article, Carla Valentine, a mortician and founder of a dating and networking hub for death industry professionals called Dead Meet,  laments how close-minded people are about necrophilia.

She says, “Chat about a violent murder at the dinner table and people join in the conversation; Mention necrophilia and the whole table goes silent.”

While Valentine declares that she is not a necrophiliac herself, she proclaims that she wants to make necrophilia accessible through talking to other people about death. Knowing that necrophilia is a subject which would rather not be talked about, she hopes that by raising awareness of its existence and all that it implies, people would no longer be repulsed by it and instead view it without bias.

To quote Valentine, “By making ‘necrophilia accessible’, I mean I’m looking at it objectively and encouraging them to do the same.”

 

Causes of Necrophilia

A man showing his self-esteem. / Photo by: Antonio Guillem via 123RF

 

There are a host of reasons why one becomes a necrophiliac. According to Jacob Shelton’s article 14 Facts about Necrophilia That (Weirdly) Might Change Your Mind About It, these may include:

- Wanting to have an unresisting and unrejecting partner

- Wanting to be comforted

- Wanting to get self-esteem by exercising power over a homicide victim

- Wanting a partner who would never leave them

- Refusing to let go of a dead loved one

 

According to Lehmiller, necrophiles are found to have difficulty socializing and may have some degree of social anxiety. He also notes that others just want to “sexually reconnect with a deceased partner”.

SexInfo Online states, “Necrophiles may view corpses as emotionally and physically non-threatening, thus presenting an easier outlet for sexual attraction, acts, and expression.”

They also add that necrophiles also like “the fact that corpses cannot reject, manipulate or abuse them.” They also mention that it gives them the satisfaction of feeling fully in control.

It seems that underneath it all, sadness and low self-esteem are often the root cause of necrophilia.

 

Kinds of Necrophilia

As cited in Vice.com As cited in Vice.com, Rosman and Resnik had two classifications for them: genuine necrophilia and pseudonecrophilia. Under these classifications are some sub-categories.

Genuine necrophilia is characterized as, by the book, Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment and Treatment, as a condition wherein the person had, “recurrent, intense urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving corpses which they found markedly distressing.”

In the same book, it pseudonecrophilia was described as more of an incidental happening rather than recurring.


According to the two authors, Rosman and Resnik,  these are what comprise genuine necrophilia:

-Necrophilic homicide
-Regular Necrophilia
-Necrophilic Fantasy
 

For clarity, these will be defined later so as not to overlap the explanation of Aggrawal’s classifications.

In relation to this pseudonecrophilia can be further classified into:

- Necrosadism
 

SexInfo Online defines necrophiles who engage in necrosadism as, “one who derives sexual pleasure from violent actions performed on a corpse, such as mutilation or drinking of blood.” Aggrawal, on the other hand, conducted a more recent study in 2009 and said that there are ten types of them.

 

According to the summarized version of Vice.com and also Aggrawal’s findings, these are the classes of necrophiliacs:

- Class I: The roleplayers

This group of necrophiliacs does not actually involve dead people. Instead, it refers to people who like their partner to assume the role of a corpse while engaging in sexual role-play.

 

- Class II: The romantic necrophiles

This group consists of those who are unable to recover from the death of a loved one.

 

- Class III: The Necrophilic Fantasizers

This one involves the people who fantasize about the dead. They get aroused by seeing pictures of corpses or think having sex near a coffin. Their fascination of the dead may lead them to frequenting cemeteries and funerals.

 

- Class IV: The Tactile Necrophiles

This group involves people who get stimulated just by touching a corpse.

 

-  Class V: The Fetishistic Necrophiles

These necrophiles cut parts of a loved one's’ body to use for their fetish.

 

-  Class VI: The Necromutilaniacs

These are people who “mutilate corpses while masturbating”.

 

-  Class VII: The Opportunistic Necrophiles

People who have intercourse with both living and the dead.

 

- Class VIII: Regular Necrophiles

These are necrophiles who prefer having sex with the dead than the living.

 

- Class IX: The Homicidal Necrophiles

This group involves people who murder to be able to have intercourse with a corpse.

 

- Class X: The Exclusive Necrophiles

These are people who can only have sex with dead bodies.


 

Necrophilia in History, Literature, and Movies

According to Vice.com, there have been many accounts and rumors of historical figures who were necrophiles.

Herod the Great was said to have preserved his dead second wife in honey and kept having intercourse with her even after seven years.

Achilles was said to have intercourse with Amazonian Queen Penthesilea after he murdered her.

There are experts who say Charlemagne too, was a necrophiliac.

Several articles and studies indicate that Sleeping Beauty, a fairytale where a prince kisses a dead princess, has necrophilic overtones.

According to Jesse Gumbarge, author of Love You To Death: 10 Films Featuring Necrophilia, some films that portray necrophilia are Dead Mate, Visitor Q and Lucker the Necrophagous.

Shelton also states that these were featured in the movies Nekromantik and Kissed.

 

Laws about Necrophilia

On what grounds are necrophiliacs charged when they are found having intercourse with dead bodies?

According to lawyer Sarah Kay, as cited by Oberhaus, laws against acting on one’s necrophilia exist because of religious views rather than logic.

Kay states that these are laws that pertain to the principles of desecration. She explains, “Desecration is tied to morality rather than it is tied to sheer logic; it is an idea that somehow the respect and honor due to the body, while it was alive, perseveres in death.”

Sex Info Online clearly opposes necrophilia. They describe it as being similar to a stalker who pursue their former lover or someone who does not feel any mutual attraction to them. They state, “Furthermore, sex with a dead, non-consenting spouse or partner can be considered as a form of domestic rape.

There are people, however, a considerable few, who are not against people who engage in acts of necrophilia.

Oberhaus also states that in 2016,  the youth wing of the Swedish Liberal Party proposed a law in favor of necrophiles.

Are necrophiles actually sane?

According to Dr. Lehmiller, absolutely. He says that, “most of them are technically not (aside from homicidal necrophilies) are not technically insane. In fact, research has found that most necrophiles have normal IQs, are able to hold steady jobs, and do not meet the clinical criteria for psychosis.”

 

Treatment

If an individual decides he wants to overcome his lustful obsession of the dead, according to SexInfo Online they can ask help from a therapist who specializes in paraphilia or they may choose to be subject to sexual therapy for atypical sexual urge or turn on.

 

Conclusion

Having learned all of this, should necrophiliacs be accepted or rejected? Should they be understood? Are they to be pitied? Has the world criticized them too harshly or is it right to ostracize them? You be the judge.

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