Sexual Deviation: Necrophilia

Sexual Deviation, or paraphilia, is intense sexual arousal to highly atypical, or unusual, objects, situations, or individuals.  In some cases this behavior may be illegal.  There are many different types of paraphilias.

Necrophilia, according to the DSM-IV-TR, is “the presence, over a period of at least six months, of recurrent and intense urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving corpses which…have been markedly distressing.”  

Necrophilia is discussed as far back as Ancient Egypt, where deceased women were left to decay before given to the embalmers in order to discourage intercourse with the corpse.  In another culture, there was a belief that the soul of a young unmarried woman would not find peace in the afterlife.  In order to give peace to her soul, a marriage ceremony was arranged, which involved intercourse with the corpse.  In ancient Peru, it was considered a means of communication with the deceased.  

There are many suggested causes for necrophilia, including

  • poor self-esteem, perhaps due to significant loss
  • fear of rejection, therefore a desire for a sexual object who is incapable of rejection
  • fear of the dead, therefore transforms fear of the dead into a desire
  • develops exciting fantasy of sex with a corpse, sometimes after exposure to a corpse

Despite these commonly held beliefs about the cause of necrophilia,  Katherine Ramsland interviewed necrophiles who disagreed with this theory.  You can find more information from her research in her book, Cemetery Stories.

The most prominent article published on Necrophilia was written by Jonathan P. Rosman, MD and Phillip J. Resnick, MD.  This article is often referenced when Necrophilia is discussed.

Due to the fact that there are not many cases of successful, or even unsuccessful, treatment of Necrophilia, it is difficult to conclude what types of treatment are helpful.  Necrophiles often keep their sexual desires quite secretive.  So, unless the act causes the individual distress, they are unlikely to seek treatment.  Another reason one might come to treatment is if one is charged and ordered into treatment.  

What are your thoughts on Necrophilia?



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