Paraphilia and Serial Murder
More commonly known as perversion or fetishism, paraphilia (from the Greek para: “beyond,” “amiss”; and philia: “attachment to”) describes the misdirection of sexual desire toward unusual or abnormal objects. Serial killers frequently suffer from sexual dysfunction that precludes normal relationships. Some of the pertinent paraphilias demonstrated in such cases include:
Anthropophagy—sexual ﬁxation on eating human ﬂesh in an act of cannibalism. When applied speciﬁcally to corpses, often in advanced decomposition, the proper term is necrophagia. Cannibalism of young girls, as practiced by Albert Fish, is called parthenophagy.
Bestiality (or zoophilia)—sexual activity with animals, as practiced in childhood by Henry Lee Lucas and others. Torture and mutilation of animals, seen as a childhood warning sign of future violence, is termed bestial sadism.
Bondage—the use of restraints in sexual activity may be harmless between consenting adults with established limits; when employed by murderous individuals such as Harvey Glatman in Los Angeles, it becomes a prelude to torture and death.
Coprophilia/coprolagnia—arousal sparked by feces, displayed in the writings of Gerard Schaefer describing defecation by his female victims at the moment of death. When consumption of feces is involved, as with Albert Fish, the proper term is coprophagia.
Gerontophilia—sexual attraction to the elderly, seen in cases like that of Albert DeSalvo, where a much younger killer preys on senior citizens forsex (as opposed to robbery of victims who are simply weaker and defenseless). Attraction to older men is termed alphamegamia; ﬁxation on elderly women is called graophilia or matronoloagnia.
Hematophilia/hematomania—fixation on blood, commonly seen in cases of vampirism such as that of John Haigh.
Mutilation—often seen in sadistic or sexually motivated crimes. Colobosis refers speciﬁcally to mutilation of the male genitalia, mazoperosis to the female breasts, perogynia to mutilation of women (primarily the genitals), and necrosadism to mutilation of corpses (sometimes performed days or weeks after the murder as the killer revisits the crime scene).
Necrophilia—sexual ﬁxation with death and corpses. When the obsession proceeds to intercourse, it is properly termed necrocoitus. Necrochlesis refers more speciﬁcally to sex with a female corpse.
Pedophilia—the proclivity for sex with children, seen in many serial child killers such as Arthur Goode. Fixation on young boys is also called pederasty.
Pyromania/pyrophilia—sexual release obtained from setting and/or watching ﬁres, a condition found in many cases of arson.
Sadism—arousal dependent on the suffering of others, named in the FBI Crime Classiﬁcation Manual (1992) as one of the major motives for sex crimes and serial murder.
Voyeurism—generally the passive act of watching others undress or have sex, typically accompanied by masturbation; spying sometimes turns deadly in the face of mounting frustration. Charles Floyd in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Rickey Brogsdale in Washington, D.C, present two examples of voyeurs whose activities escalated to murder of those they secretly observed.
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