Disturbed

Criminal profiling and the deviant mind

Why Cannibals Love Eating People

Cannibals who eat people

Don't worry. It is not likely to happen to you. The simple truth is that is not all that common. However, when it does happen, it is absolutely horrifying. Once again, a cannibal killer has been caught. Twenty one year old Ivan L. was captured in Russia. He was a chef who was enamored with eating human beings. He so enjoyed his craft that he made internet videos of cooking the sausage and ribs. He doesn't regret a single thing that he did. He would not change one thing.

Throughout history, human beings have dined on human flesh. Whether it was part of war to gain the enemy's strength, or as a means to terrify opponents, cannibalism goes back a long way. There have been those lone individuals who find eating people absolutely satisfying. They do it because they enjoy it, they have psychopathic personalities, and they are extremely lonely. Some cannibals are psychotic. Richard Trenton Chase was a serial killer who consumed his victims' blood because he believed space aliens were turning his blood to powder. After all, he had to replenish it. Obviously, Richard was a paranoid schizophrenic. However, most cannibals are not psychotic. They very well know what they are doing.

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The pattern is very clear. The killer lures an unsuspecting victim to his home and subdues him. Sometimes it is drugs. Other times, the offender simply shoots or stabs the victim. Then an elaborate fantasy plays out. Cutting up the meat is sexually exciting, according to cannibals. Feeling the flesh as it leaves the body brought many offenders to orgasm. They so enjoy the process of removing the meat from the skeleton. It makes them feel all powerful and capable of something very few people have ever done. Even most serial killers do not eat their victims. So the cannibal is in the class by himself. And he knows it. This produces a euphoric state which activates the pleasure center in the brain. Each cut brings more good feeling. So it is common to find many smaller cuts on the body. The process is that exciting.

For someone who is isolated and resentful, it fills a void. Most cannibals are extreme loners. They do not have friends, and they are bitter about it. Killing and eating a victim ensures that the offender is never alone. He ‘has' the victims with him at all times. They can never leave. This helps the cannibal retain a sense of control over his life. To himself, he has demonstrated mastery over another human being. The victim is now part of him as a trophy. This is intoxicating and drives him to do it again.

When looking at the victims, it wasn't anything the victims said or did wrong. It was just the predator's time to feed. That is how an offender sees it. It is simply a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no one type of cannibal victim. Unfortunately, it is very hard to predict who will become a cannibal. There may be signs in adolescence such as killing small animals and drinking their blood. However, offenders go to great lengths to hide this behavior. Someone with psychopathic tendencies who is drawn to blood and death is always of concern. The fascination with gore becomes all consuming to the point where the individual pushes living people away. He would rather spend time focusing on blood and murder than anything else.

Overall, cannibals are very proud of their actions. However, they are adamant about the fact that they are cannibals and nothing else. One offender I interviewed was insulted that he had been accused of rape. He adamantly declared he had never raped anyone. He said "I may kill them and eat them, but I never raped anyone! You make sure people know that!" The idea of rape was repugnant to him. Another offender asked his victim how he liked his meals prepared. In the interview, I questioned him why he had asked that of his victim. The cannibal said "I wouldn't want to insult him by cooking him the wrong way." Then, as if to justify what he had done, he said "it didn't come easy you know. I had to work for it. It took a lot to kill him."

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D., is a criminal profiler and expert on serial crimes.

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