Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D.

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin Ph.D.


Why Cannibals Love Eating People

Unfortunately, it is very hard to predict who will become a cannibal.

Posted Aug 30, 2011

Cannibalism 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.

Throughout history, human beings have dined on human flesh. Whether it was an attempt 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. 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. However, most cannibals are not psychotic. They very well know what they are doing.

The pattern is very clear. The killer lures an unsuspecting victim to his home and subdues him. Then an elaborate fantasy plays out. They 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. 

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.

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.

Overall, cannibals seem proud of their actions. But 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!" Another offender asked his victim how he liked his meals prepared. In the interview, I asked why. 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."