Necrophilia, also known as Thanatophilia is a well-known paraphilia, where people are attracted toward corpses and cadavers. People with the condition may be called “necrophiliacs” or “necrophiles”. Although a necrophile is generally defined by their sexual desires inspired by a dead body, anyone with a large interest in the state of death and decay may be labeled as a necrophiliac. The term comes from the Greek word “nekros”, meaning “dead body” or “corpse”, paired with the suffix, “-philia” which means “love”.
“Necrophilia” may be applied in a wide variety of situations, with differing behaviors observable in necrophiliacs. They may find amusement and awe in cadavers, inspiring a large interest, which may spiral down into an obsession with corpses. Alternatively, “Necrophilia” may develop from a different paraphilia like Somnophilia, where an attraction toward unconscious people turns into an attraction toward the dead. The paraphilia may invoke various behaviors, including masturbation to images of corpses, and even deliberate attempts at defacing a corpse.
Left unattended, “Necrophilia” may pose a great danger to people living with the condition, as well as others living in their proximity. On one side, the moral implications of attraction to the dead may very well push necrophiliacs to the edge of society, while the potential health hazard posed by decaying corpses may inflict serious risks to the physical well-being of patients.
It is important to seek out professional help if the possibility of “Necrophilia” arises, as it can lead to serious risks and repercussions. Support groups and therapy are great ways for necrophiliacs to come to terms with their desires and urges and to gain control over them.
“Necrophilia” has a long presence in the history of humanity, with its origins tracing back to various ancient civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt, Greece, Peru and China. Ancient sailors were often accused of having sex with the remains of people having died on their ships. Herodotus writes about “Necrophilia” in his book The Histories, discouraging readers from the practice. Various historical figures of Ancient civilizations were also accused of defacing the dead. Following the Black Death, the moral collapse coming with the weakening of the church has also led to an increased number of accounts of “Necrophilia”, with the topic being displayed in the epic poem of Matteo Maria Boiardo, titled Orlando Innamorato, published in 1483.
Despite all this history, the term “Necrophilia” wasn’t coined until the mid 19th century, when in 1850, Joseph Guislain first used it, referring to a notorious serial killer in France, Francois Bertrand.
Following this, the term was adopted worldwide and with the expansion of psychology, and the appearance of methods dissecting human consciousness, the term “Necrophilia” was adopted in scientific circles as well.
“Necrophilia” is among the most well-known paraphilias of our time, appearing in a large number of movies, books and series, as well as the newspaper articles of necrophiliac murderers, that serve as the inspiration for stories in the horror genre. Today, a few of the most notorious necrophiles, known and feared by everyone, include Dennis Nilsen and Jeffrey Dahmer, the latter of whom was portrayed in a widely popular Netflix series, titled Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.
Despite these horrendous incidents, most people with the condition are everyday people, trying to live their lives to the fullest, despite their uncanny desires and fantasies. “Necrophilia” is not a widely present paraphilia, and it also has various categories, ranging from fantasies, that never get acted out to a murderous tendency, where a necrophile cannot get sexual satisfaction without sating their appetite for blood.
Overall, “Necrophilia” has been long present in the history of humanity, often fueled by grief, despair and loneliness, leading to a deficient way of expressing sexual energies. Today, however, we live in a world, where many with the condition are in the position to ask for help to learn to live with their condition, through therapy and a supportive environment. Being a necrophiliac is not a sin in itself, and if one learns to control their impulses, they may attain happiness, despite all.