Necrophilia

Pietro Pajetta - Der Hass - 1896.jpeg
The Hatred, painting by Pietro Pajetta, 1896.

Necrophilia, also called thanatophilia, is a sexual attraction or sexual act involving corpses. The attraction is classified as a paraphilia by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association

Rosman and Resnick (1989) reviewed information from 34 cases of necrophilia describing the individuals’ motivations for their behaviors: these individuals reported the desire to possess a non-resisting and non-rejecting partner (68%), reunions with a romantic partner (21%), sexual attraction to corpses (15%), comfort or overcoming feelings of isolation (15%), or seeking self-esteem by expressing power over a homicide victim (12%).

Origin of term

Around 1850, Belgian physician Joseph Guislain coined the word nécrophiles in a lecture about mental illness, with reference to infamous contemporary necrophile François Bertrand. The term was popularized about a decade later by psychiatrist Bénédict Morel, who also discussed Bertrand.

Classification


In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), recurrent, intense sexual interest in corpses can be diagnosed under Other Specified Paraphilic Disorder (necrophilia) when it causes marked distress or impairment in important areas of functioning. A ten-tier classification of necrophilia exists:

  1. Role players: People who get aroused from pretending their live partner is dead during sexual activity.
  2. Romantic necrophiliacs: Bereaved people who remain attached to their dead lover’s body.
  3. Necrophilic fantasizers: People who fantasize about necrophilia, but never actually have sex with a corpse.
  4. Tactile necrophiliacs: People who are aroused by touching or stroking a corpse, without engaging in intercourse.
  5. Fetishistic necrophiliacs: People who remove objects (e.g., panties or a tampon) or body parts (e.g., a finger or genitalia) from a corpse for sexual purposes, without engaging in intercourse.
  6. Necromutilomaniacs: People who derive pleasure from mutilating a corpse while masturbating, without engaging in intercourse.
  7. Opportunistic necrophiliacs: People who normally have no interest in necrophilia, but take the opportunity when it arises.
  8. Regular necrophiliacs: People who preferentially have intercourse with the dead.
  9. Homicidal necrophiliacs: People who commit murder in order to have sex with the dead.
  10. Exclusive necrophiliacs: People who have an exclusive interest in sex with the dead, and cannot perform at all for living partners.

Legality


India

Section 297 of the Indian Penal Code entitled “Trespassing on burial places, etc”, states as follows:

Whoever, with the intention of wounding the feelings of any person, or of insulting the religion of any person, or with the knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded, or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted thereby,

commits any trespass in any place of worship or on any place of sculpture, or any place set apart from the performance of funeral rites or as a depository for the remains of the dead, or offers any indignity to any human corpse, or causes disturbance to any persons assembled for the performance of funeral ceremonies,

shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Although sex with a corpse is not explicitly mentioned, a person who has sex with a corpse may be convicted under the above section. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code could also be invoked.

United Kingdom

Sexual penetration with a corpse was made illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This is defined as depictions of “sexual interference with a human corpse” as well as actual scenes (see also extreme pornography). As of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, it is also illegal to possess explicit and realistic depictions of sexual interference with a human corpse, electronic or otherwise.

New Zealand

Under Section 150 of the New Zealand Crimes Act 1961, it is an offence for there to be “misconduct in respect to human remains.” Subsection (b) elaborates that this applies if someone “improperly or indecently interferes with or offers indignity to any dead human body or human remains, whether buried or not.” This statute is therefore applicable to sex with corpses and carries a potential two-year prison sentence, although it should be noted that there is no case law as yet that would apply the aforementioned statute.

Brazil

Article 212 of the Brazilian Penal Code (federal Decree-Law No 2.848) states as follows:

Art. 212 – To abuse a cadaver or its ashes:
Penalty: detention, from 1 to 3 years, plus fine.

Although sex with a corpse is not explicitly mentioned, a person who has sex with a corpse may be convicted of a crime under the above Article. The legal asset protected by such Article isn’t the corpse’s objective honor, but the feeling of good memories, respect and veneration that living people keep about the deceased person: these persons are considered passive subjects of the corpse’s violation.

South Africa

Section 14 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007 prohibits the commission of a sexual act with a corpse. Until codified by the act it was a common law offence.

United States

There is no federal legislation specifically barring sex with a corpse. Multiple states have their own laws:

State Severity Statute
Alabama Felony (Class C) § 13A-11-13
Alaska Misdemeanor (Class A) § 11-61-130
Arizona Felony (Class 4) § 32-1364
Arkansas Felony (Class D) § 5-60-101
California Felony Health and Safety Code § 7052
Colorado Misdemeanor (Class 2) § 18-13-101
Connecticut Misdemeanor (Class A) § 53a-73a
Delaware Misdemeanor (Class A) § 11-5-1332
Florida Felony (second degree) § 872.06
Georgia Felony § 16-6-7
Hawaii Misdemeanor § 711-1108
Indiana Felony (Level 6) § 35-45-11-2
Iowa Felony (Class D) § 709.18
Kentucky Felony (Class D) § 525.120
Minnesota Misdemeanor § 609.294
Mississippi Felony § 97-29-25
Nevada Felony (Class A) NRS § 201.450
New York Misdemeanor (Class A) § 130.20
North Dakota Misdemeanor (Class A) § 12.1-20-12 and § 12.1-20-02
Ohio Felony (fifth degree) § 2927.01
Oregon Felony ORS § 166.085
Pennsylvania Misdemeanor (second degree) 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5510
Rhode Island Felony § 11-20-1.2
Tennessee Felony (Class E) § 39-17-312
Texas Misdemeanor (Class A) § 9.42.08
Utah Felony (third degree) § 76-9-704
Washington Felony (Class C) RCW § 9A.44.105
Wisconsin Felony (Class G) § 940.225 (7)

RelatedJack The Ripper {The Whitechapel Murderer} 🗡️   Ted Bundy {The Crazy Necrophile} –  Paraphilia – Homicide


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