His work did not, as a rule, expose him to death or corpses with any frequency, yet he recalls an occasion which necessitated him to visit a morgue, an experience which he recalls sexually aroused him. Indeed, despite access to willing sexual partners, in a city much more tolerant of homosexuality than anywhere he had lived previously, his indulgence in sexual fantasies involving corpses continued unabated. In fact, when the pressures of city life began to mount, debt, work stress and lack of fulfilment in his life, he would withdraw into that sexual fantasy life, locked away at home, and with the aid of alcohol and music he would explore fantasies of having at his disposal a pliable young man to do with as he wished.
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I had never before had all my problems dumped in my lap all at the same time. Something had to give. The most common sexual expression was through masturbation as he fondled the corpses. With some victims, however, he would perform intercrural sex and, on at least one occasion, attempt anal intercourse. On the occasion that he attempted penetrative sex with a corpse, he found his erection could not be maintained and so resorted to masturbation and, from there on, would contain sexual contact with his victims to that activity. On some occasions, masturbation was accompanied by fondling the body but at other times simply being in their presence provided enough sexual stimulation to achieve orgasm.
More than the performance of sexual acts though he would mimic relationship behaviours with his victims, post-mortem. When the corpses began to display outward signs of decay and decomposition, when their physical appearance began to betray their role as a willing partner for the offender, they would be dismembered and disposed of most commonly through burning. The case presented does not seek to answer the perennial question of whether human behaviour can be reduced to a mathematical formula but, simply, to determine if a case of necrophilic behaviour is best described and elucidated using a broad or narrow categorisation tool.
A caveat, worthy to note, is that the case presented involves a homosexual male with male victims. Whilst very few accounts exist of such behaviour, and necrophilia has even been defined in gendered terms a male perpetrator and female victim Smith and Braun , it has not yet been determined that any distinct and separate categorisation is required according to sexual orientation. Notwithstanding the sexual orientation of the subject presented in this case, his behaviour does not fit, exclusively or neatly, into the finite categories offered by Aggrawal, but neither does it using the Rosman and Resnick model.
It is important to note that the aetiology of sexual fantasy occurred in the shadow of sexual abuse by an older relative and the illegality and social unacceptability of homosexuality.
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That does not suggest, however, that the case is so unique it cannot be used to test existing classifications of necrophilic behaviour. Deviant sexual fantasies are often reported to develop in context of childhood abuse, serving as a coping mechanism, a means of mitigating or avoiding memories of that abuse; the content of which is then reinforced by high levels of masturbation Marshall and Marshall ; Maniglio , Prentky et al. As Gee and Belofastov note, deviant sexual fantasy is often rehearsed as an accompaniment to masturbation so sexual arousal then becomes conditioned to the deviant sexual fantasy which can then produce deviant sexual arousal patterns.
Sexual fantasies can then take on a preparatory role and can move an individual closer to the point where they attempt to act out the fantasy in reality Gee and Belofastov As with a case presented by Carabellese et al. The more time spent in a fantasy world, the more real it becomes and, at some point, the fantasy world has been so invested in by the person that it needs to be acted out through sexual offending Carabellese et al.
The transition from fantasy to acting out will depend upon environmental factors; in this case, increasing social isolation, stress, loneliness, low self-esteem and alcohol abuse. I put talc on my face to erase the living colour. I smear charcoal under my eyes to accentuate a hollow dark look. I put pale blue on my lips. I rub my eyes to make them bloodshot.
I have put three holes in my old tee-shirt. I make a mixture of cochineal and saffron to synthesize blood. I lie, staring-eyed, on the bed in front of the mirror. I step outside myself in detached imagination. There is another imaginary person in the room who finds my body out in the woods It was the first time in my life that I was fully confronted with the, behind the scenes, official view of dead people treated like commodities of dead meet to be processed It was, for me a very potent image As we left that image stuck with me. The regular necrophile, those in the class VIII tier are those, according to Aggrawal, who are able to have sex with the living, but have a preference for sex with the dead.
Also, in that time period, the offender would revert to being a necrophilic fantasiser and role player, behaviours associated with class I and class III necrophiles. His fantasy life may have sustained for longer, if he had the means to store parts of his victims which he could then incorporate into his role playing. The class IX necrophile, the most dangerous according to Aggrawal, undoubtedly applies to the present case, killing in order to have sex with a corpse.
However, his behaviour would not remain static within a particular category and he would continue to display behaviours associated with lower categorisations. Similarly, the offending behaviour was also not contained within one of the categories offered by Rosman and Resnick. The offending behaviour was a linear progression through those three categories: fantasy, necrophilic behaviour and homicide to acquire a corpse for necrophilic acts. However, in this case, behaviour moved back, forth and between categories, a regression and movement which is not presented as possible in that model either.
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It is pertinent to note that multiple sexual paraphilias are frequently found in the same individual Marshall , particularly when necrophilia is identified Gayford , and when, as in this case, a sexual offender has experienced an adverse childhood experience such as sexual abuse Drury et al.
As such, those behaviours related to necrophilia in similarity could perhaps offer guidance to the construction of a necrophilia classification system in the future. Somnophilia, the attraction to the sleeping and unconscious, is closely related to necrophilia, sharing a common attraction to the helpless and passive state Fedoroff et al.
Both necrophilia and somnophilia overlap with biastophlilia, sexual arousal to rape, when power and dominance over the passive and helpless body is the driver for fantasy and action Pettigrew Given the similarities necrophilia shares with such paraphilias, the classification of behaviours within those paraphilias should be consulted see for example Canter et al.
The escalation in behaviour, compared to the ten classifications offered by Aggrawal, was not a linear progression of seriousness, reaching a final point.
Whilst the fantasies of sex with the dead, those behaviours in the lower tiers of the classification system, preceded the more serious behaviour in the latter tiers, they did not cease once necrophilic behaviour escalated: fantasy, in fact, remained central. However, the offender in the current study would not be satisfactorily categorised using the tripartite model offered by Rosman and Resnick As such, the hypothesis is only partially confirmed; excessive and narrow subdivisions of this sexual paraphilia offer little utility in understanding that spectrum of behaviour within a single person.
However, a broader categorisation tool still does not capture the range of behaviours exhibited in this offender.
The broader categorisation requires the stipulation that an offender can regress, as well as progress through classifications, and can occupy more than one behavioural category at any one time. Whilst case study findings are not readily generalised, and not all necrophiles will escalate in their behaviour and some may remain within in one category, it should be noted in any categorisation tool that progression, as well as regression, is possible.
When Aggrawal asserts that most who fantasise of sexual contact with the dead do not come usually to have any contact with a corpse, that is not borne out here and, it is asserted, conditional upon the prolonged fulfilment achieved in sexual fantasising. Further research should focus upon the factors that cause an escalation in behaviour, particularly from fantasy to reality, and from opportunity to homicide. This case would largely refute the mathematical and logical ordering of the Aggrawal classification.
Here, the offender would kill to secure corpses, he would thereafter continue to have sex with the living, he would, if possible, store parts of bodies for sexual gratification, he would kill again, and ultimately become an exclusive necrophile. All the while, however, he was indulging in a rich fantasy life involving sexual activity with the dead. Aggrawal makes no mention of movement between categories, nor of regressive or random movement in behavioural severity, and nothing of concurrent behaviours that are distinguished in the ten tier classification.
Currently, the model provides no clarification on how a person comes to be placed in a certain category, nor is there reference to those whose behaviours span more than one category and, pivotally, no discussion of a progression through, or movement between, categories.
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Instead, the model seems one predicated, not even on harm, but on the display of aberrant desire, and assumes direct entry at a certain classification. It would seem in fact that a spectrum of necrophilic behaviour is not easily translated into a mathematical system, particularly when the dataset is unidentified, and the earlier classification that Aggrawal derides as confusing is the more appropriate and useful classification of the two.
Pivotally though, Rosman and Resnick also make no mention of movement between categorisations. However, their broader model will capture some offenders who do not progress in their behaviour, and without unnecessary and complicating subdivisions. In fact, an excessive division of behaviours seems an unwarranted and obfuscating endeavour, at the present time. It should be noted, however, particularly by law enforcement personnel when investigating cases of necrophilia, and by clinicians dealing with the presentation of necrophilic fantasy in a patient, that behaviour and desire can escalate.
Although this is an extreme case, necrophilia linked with serial murder, and not all will graduate from fantasy to such extreme action, it is contended that the full range of necrophilic desire and behaviour can be found within one individual and attempts at classifying behaviour and desire should not preclude awareness of that spectrum, or movement between levels of behavioural severity. As such, a categorisation tool would be desirable that charts a possible progression of behaviour and describes activities associated with each step in that progression, whilst noting that each step builds upon the last, rather than replacing the behaviours in the previous stage.
Such a model would allow for observation of what preceded the current level of behaviour that is presented to clinicians, and what may possibly follow: from fantasy to opportunity to homicide. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide.
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Download PDF. Open Access. First Online: 06 March Introduction Selective but high profile cases of necrophilia have been appearing with some consistency in recent years see for example, Eleftheriou-Smith ; Simms ; Lausner ; Perring ; yet, academic and clinical scrutiny of this, assumed to be rare, sexual paraphilia is sparse. Pseudonecrophiles have only a transient attraction to corpses with a preference for sexual contact with the living Rosman and Resnick The first group comprises those who murder to obtain a corpse to fulfil their sexual desires; those in the second group are more opportunistic, using already dead bodies for their sexual purposes, whilst those in the final group limit themselves to fantasising of sexual contact with the dead Rosman and Resnick So, those with a persistent sexual attraction to the dead are found in three relatively broad categories: those who kill to secure a corpse those who will use already dead bodies and those who simply fantasise of committing necrophilic acts.