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Necrophilia: characteristics, causes and treatment

Necrophilia: characteristics, causes and treatment

May 6, 2021

Necrophilia is one of the sexual disorders that causes the greatest rejection in society , because few individuals can understand that there are subjects who become sexually aroused in the presence of corpses.

But what exactly is this disorder? What are its symptoms and its treatment? In today's article we will answer these questions. Now, to understand what necrophilia is, we will first explain what paraphilias are, a category in which necrophilia is included.

Necrophilia, one of the most studied paraphilias

Sexual disorders are divided into three major categories: paraphilias, sexual dysfunctions and sexual identity disorders. The word paraphilia It has its origin in the Greek language. In Greek, "para" means next to, and "filein" is synonymous with the verb "amar".


Paraphilias are mental disorders that are characterized by intense and repeated sexual fantasies , sexual impulses towards children or people who do not consent, or towards non-human objects or situations such as suffering or humiliation. Therefore, paraphilias such as necrophilia negatively affect the quality of life of one or several people. Some of the best known are: exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism or pedophilia.

You can know more about these paraphilias in our article: "The main sexual and psychosexual disorders"

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), these sexual fantasies or sexual impulses occur during a significant period of time (at least 6 months) and interfere in the normal functioning of the person or in the sexual satisfaction of their relationships .


Characteristics of the behavior of the person with paraphilia

Although paraphilias are often seen as strange and extreme behaviors, they are easier to understand if one thinks of those behaviors that, in less extreme cases, are quite common. For example, for a person, sexting can cause excitement. However, when an individual is only aroused through sexting, then a paraphilia would be considered , because it has a way of satisfying your sexual desires that negatively affects your well-being.

Recommended article: "Sexting: the risky practice of sending spicy photos through the mobile phone"

In summary, the behavior of people with paraphilia is characterized by:

  • Paraphilia is a disorder of sexual desire that lasts at least six months. Therefore, it must have been maintained over time.
  • It includes abnormal behavior, excitement, fantasy or pain.
  • There are many types of paraphilias in which the sufferer has fantasies, desires or even maintains relationships with objects or people without their consent.
  • Psychotherapy or antiandrogens are beneficial for patients to control their abnormal sexual behavior.

Necrophilia: a strange disorder

Within paraphilias, necrophilia is, along with pedophilia, one of the paraphilias that causes the greatest social rejection . Few individuals can imagine a person having intimate relationships with a dead person. But the truth is that, despite its strangeness, over the years have been known cases such as Carl Tanzler, who has become famous for his macabre story: exhumed the body of an ex-patient to maintain intimate relationships with her.


People who have necrophilia are excited by the corpses , the fantasies with these or the fact of possessing objects of the person who is no longer with them, with whom they can perform games of intimate type. This pathology leads the necrophile to a feeling of apathy with those around them, turning their lives in this type of acts.

The social pressure against necrophilia

Some patients with necrophilia have had a life in common with the deceased and, after his death, wish to continue copulating with it. In other cases, necrophiliacs may have sex with several victims, such as the case of Kenneth Douglas, a necrophiliac in Hamilton County, Ohio, (United States). had sex with more than 100 corpses of women while working as an assistant in a morgue of that region . In this case, the necrophile was able to direct his life so that he could carry out these acts, so that social censorship did not affect him.

But necrophilia not only brings social or personal consequences, but also legal ones, since the desecration of graves and the retention of a lifeless body is penalized in most countries. So, many necrophiles end up detained and having severe problems with justice .

Possible treatments

For the treatment of necrophilia, different techniques can be used, usually from cognitive behavioral therapy. Psychotherapy (both individual and group) is the fundamental pillar in the treatment of these patients and, in addition, it is usually part of a multimodal treatment, which may include social skills training, drug administration and hormonal treatment.

The administration of antiandrogenic drugs such as medroxyprogesterone acetate (in the United States) or cyproterone acetate (in Europe) is the treatment of choice for this disorder. The treatment is long-term, because deviant sexual arousal patterns may reoccur soon after the return to normal testosterone levels.

The administration of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine or fluvoxamine may also be useful.

Carl Tanzler: one of the most famous cases of Necrofilia

One of the most famous cases of necrophilia is that of Carl Tanzler, a man who, amazingly, was able to exhume the corpse of Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos which she considered the woman of her life, to continue having sexual relations with her .

Tanzler managed to glue the bones of his deceased beloved with hangers and cables, put glass eyes in the eye sockets, and changed the rotten flesh of this by silk cloth treated with wax and white plaster, as the body was in considerable state of putrefaction and thus could keep it visible longer.

Learn more about this case in our article: "The famous and macabre case of necrophilia of Carl Tanzler"

Bibliographic references:

  • Aggrawal, Anil (2008). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. CRC Press. p. 296
  • Masters, Brian (1985). Killing For Company. Arrow ISBN 978-0099552611.
  • Aggrawal, Anil (2010). Necrophilia: Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects. CRC Press. pp. 6-7. The primary source is Histories, Book V, 92.

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