Blood­lust

Dr. Miller tells us what gives a killer a taste for blood

Real Crime - - The Vampire Of Kraków -

Is vam­pirism and can­ni­bal­ism com­mon among killers?

A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of se­rial killers en­gage in some form of post- mortem ma­nip­u­la­tion, mu­ti­la­tion and/ or can­ni­bal­ism of their vic­tims, drink­ing the blood or eat­ing parts of vic­tims at the crime scene or later – a prac­tice called an­thro­pophagy. Al­bert Fish made stew from at least one of his vic­tims. Jef­frey Dah­mer can­ni­balised sev­eral of his vic­tims, stor­ing the re­mains in his freezer… He de­scribed the ex­pe­ri­ence of eat­ing his vic­tims as sex­u­ally ex­hil­a­rat­ing. In Ren­field’s syn­drome, also known as clin­i­cal vam­pirism, the killer feels a com­pul­sion to drink the vic­tim’s blood.

What about out­side Western so­ci­ety?

A num­ber of re­searchers have com­mented on the sim­i­lar­ity of these be­hav­iours to the ac­tiv­i­ties of preda­tory an­i­mals, in­clud­ing the com­mon house cat, as well as to the cus­toms of war­rior so­ci­eties, where drink­ing the blood or eat­ing a body part of a slain ad­ver­sary is be­lieved to con­vey the dead foe’s power to the vic­tor and to pro­tect the war­rior from vengeance by the vic­tim’s spirit. Ex­am­ples in­clude Maori war­riors, who taste the blood of their slaugh­tered ene­mies, or ex­e­cu­tion­ers in Niger who lick the blood of their vic­tims from the knife. Mod­ern ex­am­ples in­clude tor­ture, mur­der, mu­ti­la­tion, and con­sump­tion of ad­ver­saries by sol­diers or lynch mobs.

Where does the urge to drink, kill and can­ni­balise orig­i­nate in hu­mans?

Hu­mans evolved as a tribal hunt­ing species – of both an­i­mals for food and other hu­mans for power. In this sense, se­rial killing is a vari­a­tion that un­der other cir­cum­stances would be adap­tive to the sur­vival of the small, trib­al­is­ti­cally loyal, preda­tory hunt­ing groups in which most of hu­man evo­lu­tion oc­curred. The dif­fer­ence is that the in­di­vid­ual se­rial killer vi­o­lates the rules of the tribe and kills non- sanc­tioned vic­tims. Although these be­hav­iours may be associated with par­tic­u­lar psy­chi­atric di­ag­noses, they are not ‘ dis­eases’ in the usual sense, but ex­ag­ger­ated ex­pres­sions of in­nate traits that at one time al­lowed our species to sur­vive and that we now may wish to re­pu­di­ate in our ‘ civilised’ con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion of our­selves. The se­rial killer fright­ens us be­cause he strips away the ve­neer of civilised be­hav­iour and il­lus­trates the dark places our hu­man na­tures can go.

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