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
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. The word cannibalism is
derived from Canibales, the Spanish name for the Caribs, a West Indies tribe
that may have practiced cannibalism, from Spanish canibal or caribal, a
savage. It formed a practice in earlier times which was followed by many
people 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.
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.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
The Aghoris are Indian ascetics 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, although an Indian TV crew witnessed
one Aghori feasting on a corpse discovered floating in the Ganges, 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.
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. 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.
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
- 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.
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.
Also as the report above mentions that the markings of a delinquent or a
cannibalist is taken as a part of labelling theory 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 has shedded light on the Differential association theory being
highlighted with the interactional and the associational perspective�being
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, 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 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 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 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. 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 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 and also the theory given by Bowly as
the affectionless psychopath 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.
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