Cannibalism is an act of unthinkable violence and a strict taboo for most modern societies. Recently, researchers have investigated how mental illness in very rare and extreme cases can cause violations of this strict prohibition.
Scientists recently reviewed five medical examinations of male patients aged 18 to 36 who practiced cannibalism – or cannibalism as a result of mental illness. All patients were in psychiatric facilities in Villejuif, France, for 20 years, the researchers said in a new study.
By examining patient history and details of their diagnosis, scientists hope to find behavioral patterns that can explain what causes cannibalism.
Evidence of cannibalism in humans comes from our relatives who lived 900,000 years ago. It was documented in our Neanderthal cousins that were extinct for more than 100,000 years, and the plot was preserved in the bones of the Ice Age, more than 17,000 years old. This practice continues in several human societies related to rituals and social practices. it was also documented in a state of severe starvation – in 2013, several incidents were reported in poor areas of North Korea.
But pathological cannibalism is very rare and is thought to occur in two types of individuals: those who suffer from severe mental illness and those who experience significant parafilii extreme forms – sexual desire is filled with dangerous activities, according to the researchers. Their findings were reported in a study published June 3 in the Journal of Forensic Science
Based on existing records, the study authors divided patients into two groups: those with severe schizophrenia and those with mixed personality disorders “related to sadistic and paralytic psychopathic”. According to the study, all patients had disturbed childhoods that exposed them to sexual violence, domestic violence or emotional neglect.
Fantasy for “years”
Two patients in the mixed personality disorder group were not interested in social taboos; In fact, they admit that this is a fantasy or cannibalistic plan “many years ago,” the researchers wrote. What causes him to attack and eat his victims? “The feeling of humiliation seems to have triggered the two patients to attack their victims when they have lost their pride,” the scientists said. Cannibalism is also accompanied by sexual acts involving victims.
In comparison, cannibalism in three schizophrenic patients occurs suddenly. All of these patients attack and eat part of their parents’ bodies. Researchers have found that there is a history of friction and emotional hostility in this parent-child relationship.
The authors conclude that the schizophrenia group cannibalism in response to extreme self-defense against the threat of destruction – physical or mental. In patients with mixed personality disorders, cannibalism increases self-esteem and eases tension. “Ego and narcissism are central themes, with a desire to overcome deep frustration through extraordinary actions,” said the study.
Because only five cases were reviewed for this study and all participants were male, the results should not be used widely for other cases of cannibalism, the researchers wrote.
In addition, each case is clinically complex and therefore requires further analysis to uncover a network of single and environmental factors that can cause cannibalism.
“Although this patient’s biography, diagnosis, or relationship relationship can show the reason for their attack, the nature of the action remains a mystery,” the study authors reported.