File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Cannibalism And Its Linkage With Criminology

This article focuses on cannibalism as a crime noticed rarely in today's scenario in India as well as globally where many instances of such cruel crimes have been occurred. There has been a great study on cannibalism where many theorists are of the notions that such sort of crime has a deep relation with the psychological realm relating the psychopathological context, the positivist realm, impulsiveness and lack of remorse and it affects the therapeutic behaviour and how the culprit is being perceived in a society.

It is also being noted in the sphere of many tribal's today where the theory of cultural relativism causes a particular culture to follow a certain practice i.e. being specific Cannibalism has been said to test the bounds of cultural relativism because it challenges anthropologists to define what is or is not beyond the pale of acceptable human behaviour.[1]

Cannibalism has occasionally been practiced as a last resort by people suffering from famine, even in modern times. In our contemporary scenario the topic of sexual cannibalism has come to existence where cannibalism to the pursuit of sexual desire has been on roll.

Cannibalism is termed as the practice the act of eating human flesh or the flesh of one's own kind and is savage and inhuman cruelty.[2] The word cannibalism is derived from Canibales, the Spanish name for the Caribs,[3] a West Indies tribe that may have practiced cannibalism,[4] from Spanish canibal or caribal, a savage. It formed a practice in earlier times which was followed by many people[5] in countries like Prehistoric Europe, South America, New Guinea and Fiji. In ancient times, cannibalism was deemed acceptable for reasons of survival when faced with extreme need or for religious or magic reasons.

Contemporary Scenario
In today's society, these cases are extremely rare and are generally associated with severe mental illness. In India, the instances of such cruel crime of cannibalism have been noted in many areas especially metro cities as seen in the case of Nithari crimes, the house of horrors murder case where the culprits admitted eating some of the victims and Surendra Koli who has been accused of several murders and of consuming his victims[6].Also there are tribals groups in India too who follow thus harsh cruel and traditional practice of cannibalism which includes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Sentinalese who form a part of cultural relativism.

The Aghoris are Indian ascetics[7] who believe that eating human flesh confers spiritual and physical benefits, such as prevention of aging which is superstitious They claim to only eat those who have voluntarily willed their body to the sect upon their death[8], although an Indian TV crew witnessed one Aghori feasting on a corpse discovered floating in the Ganges[9], and a member of the Dom caste reports that Aghoris often take bodies from the cremation ghats (or funeral pyre).

Analysis linking with theory
It is well being noted that cannibalism is considered as an anti social and highly impulsive and abnormal behaviour.

In today's society, these cases are extremely rare and are generally associated with severe mental illness. We present a case of cannibalism in an individual with schizophrenia. The patient who lacked insight into his illness admitted to committing acts of cannibalism and offered in-depth explanations of the procedures used to prepare the bodies.

He made statements on television and to the press and was given the nickname of the people-eater, an identity he readily accepted and integrated into his system of delusions. Cases of this nature are exceedingly unusual, but the fact that people with schizophrenia commit uncommon, unpredictable crimes attracts the media. This circumstance not only interferes with the natural course of the disease, but also affects the therapeutic behaviour and how the patient is perceived by society.[10]

This illustrated the effective theories of crimes coming under criminology or under the psychological school of criminology where the concepts of criminology is meant to effectively deal with the mental set up of an individual commiting such a crime where the ID AND EGO aspects need to be dealt with as ID means the pleasure noted by the pleasure principle and the reality principle[11]. Psychodynamic theory suggests that criminal offenders are frustrated and aggravated.

They are constantly drawn to past events that occurred in their early childhood. Because of a negligent, unhappy, or miserable childhood, which is most often characterized by a lack of love and/or nurturing, a criminal offender has a weak (or absent) ego and this point also substantiates that aggression cannibalism has been associated with mental illness.[12]

And while analysing this one of the reasons of cannibalism is purported to be psychopathological where these traits are to be observed in the childhood itself as an abnormal trait where it is also being noted there are consistent individual differences which is an underlying construct such as a criminal potential such as criminal potential or anti social personality and a degree of deviant behaviour also impulsiveness lack of remorse played an important role to purport towards cannibalism where the notion of behaviourism attached to psychological imbalances came to light i.e. if the mental setup of a culprit is resorted to hedonistic pleasure and if certain behavioural traits leads to impulsive attitude and lack of remorse this could very well lead to revenge in the form of cannibalism.

It is also being considered by many criminologists and theorists as many as linked to schizophrenia whose direct linkages with criminology and psychology has been purported as Although the precise cause of schizophrenia isn't known, certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering schizophrenia, including:
  • Having a family history of schizophrenia
  • Some pregnancy and birth complications, such as malnutrition or exposure to toxins or viruses that may impact brain development
  • Taking mind-altering (psychoactive or psychotropic) drugs during teen years and young adulthood[13].

And such assumptions relates the realm of cognitive behaviour into picture where how criminal offenders perceive and mentally represent the world around them where under this it is important to note how the individuals perceive morally the things around them and how the information processing of the reality is perceived in their minds. Most important to his theory is the notion that there are levels, stages, and social orientation and also the three levels are Level I, preconventional; Level II, conventional; and Level III, post conventional and where in this involves the importance of information processing which the mental setup of cannibalists has been analysed as they are not able to perceive the information of the reality.[14]

Also as the report above mentions that the markings of a delinquent or a cannibalist is taken as a part of labelling theory[15] and as it is considered by many due to schizophrenia he takes that labelling as delusions it creates delusions for the mental setup of that individual you think that you're being harmed or harassed; certain gestures or comments are directed at you; you have exceptional ability or fame; another person is in love with you; or a major catastrophe is about to occur.

Delusions occur in most people with schizophrenia and which is considered as an essential point behind cannibalism where in a report it is specific that a cannibalist takes the labelling against as many of the delusions and also the purported which lead to juvenile delinquency could one of the leading points towards the attitude of impulsiveness, revenge and such an hedonistic pleasure to lead towards cannibalism.

Also it is also brought to light that interaction and association with Aghoris in the context of India and also with Wendigo in the International sphere[16] has shedded light on the Differential association theory being highlighted with the interactional and the associational perspective[17]´┐Żbeing one of the reasons for an individual to turn into a cannibalist.

Also it is important to note that in the case of utter starvation where taking the case of Jos Salvador Alvarenga who is accused of eating his travel companion to survive being lost at sea,[18] also another case to be noted that after a plane crash in the Andes in 1972, passengers ate the frozen remains of those who had perished, surviving 72 days before they were rescued.

In 2000, three migrants from the Dominican Republic survived for three weeks when their boat engine failed at sea, only by devouring some of the 60 others who succumbed to dehydration and exposure[19] where it is brought into light that such lack of conditions put an extensive strain on an individual which causes an individual to purport towards such a cruel state of activity and this brings Robert anomie theory [20]to link with it.

It is also being noted by Cesare Lombroso, the Italian physician known as the  father of modern criminology who concluded about the positivist criminology [21]and it could be analysed that while talking about the nature or the attitude towards cannibalism there could be biological factors relating to the crime where as noted by Lombroso the notion of atavists and criminoids could be linked with the cannibalists where their mental setup to commit crimes like consuming others as their means of survival and where certain hereditary traits leads to such an abnormality.
Also under this the concept of sexual cannibalism comes to light where it is being stated as a psychosexual disorder and involves individuals' sexualizing the consumption of another human being's flesh.

Most criminologists and psychologists claim such people are sociopaths (characterized by impulsivity, selfishness, and lack of remorse) where the motivational driving force underlying sexual cannibalism in some ways appears to resemble that of sadomasochism from a dominance and submission perspective.[22] Devouring someone could be viewed as the ultimate act of dominance by a predator, and the ultimate act of submission by the prey and thus causes hedonistic principle to come to light where the pleasure and pain principle came to light i.e. the psychodynamic theory of offending [23]given by Lee Robbins has been noted relating to this sphere.

The relation relating to the criminological theories with cannibalism has been deeply analysed and the main important point in this analysis is Psychopathology which refers to either the study of mental illness or mental distress or to the manifestation of behaviours and experiences which may be indicative of mental illness or psychological impairment[24] and also the theory given by Bowly as the affectionless psychopath[25] where in certain cases there is a inability to feel remorse and is closely linked to the problem of cannibalism where also different theories have been also linked with such a cruel crime and in today's scenario this problem has been observed in the form of sexual cannibalism and noted the hedonistic pleasure arising out of such a crime. Thus to be concluded this problem is a culture bound syndrome which is psychopathological and should be dealt with effective psychiatrist programmes as possible.

  1. Brief history of cannibal controversies;Wayback Machine, Exploration,Vanderbuilt University.
  3. Cannibalism Definition
  4. Cannibalism (human behaviour) Britannica, Online Encyclopaedia.
  5. Roach, John: Cannibalism Normal For Early Humans?; National Geographic
  6. The rights of a cannibal, Surendra Koli and Nithari case; Hindustan times.
  7. Roshen Dalal: Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide Penguin; p.8.ISBN 9780143414216.
  8. Schumacher, Tim (2013); A New Religion. iUniverse p. 66, ISBN 9781475938463
  9. Indian doc focuses on Hindu cannibal sect;
  10. Ortiz, O & Galvis, D & S nchez-Mora, N & L pez, C.(2006). Cannibalism in paranoid schizophrenia: A case report. Actas espa olas de psiquiatr a. 34. 136-9.
  11. Psychological theories of crime,
  12. Raymond, Sophie & L ger, Anne?Sophie & Gasman, Ivan. (2019). The Psychopathological Profile of Cannibalism: A Review of Five Cases. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 64.10.1111/1556-4029.14099.
  14. Psychological theories of crime, Criminal Justice.
  15. Sherry Lynn Skaggs, Labelling Theory; Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  17. Vibhana Ananda, Differential Association Theory; Legal Services India.
  18. Eating people is wrong is it against the law? ; The Guardian
  19. Ben Macintyre;
  20. Anomie, Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica;
  21. Introduction to critical criminology: Positivist school of criminology,
  22. Dr Mark Griffiths, Chartered Psychologist; What is a sexual cannibalism?,
  23. A2_AQB_crim_psychodynamicTheories,
  24. Science Daily, Psychopathology Definition;
  25. Bowlby's theory of Maternal Deprivation,

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Sexually Provocative Outfit Statement In...


Wednesday, Live Law reported that a Kerala court ruled that the Indian Penal Code Section 354, ...

UP Population Control Bill


Population control is a massive problem in our country therefore in view of this problem the Ut...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly