Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Necrophilia can best be described as sexual arousal stimulated by a dead body. The stimulation can be either in the form of fantasies or actual physical sexual contact with the corpse.

Legends with necrophilic themes are common throughout history and the concept of sexual interference with the dead has been known and abhorred since the ancient Egyptians, as noted by Herodotus (484 BCE -425 BC approx):

"When the wife of a distinguished man dies, or any woman who happens to be beautiful or well known, her body is not given to the embalmers immediately, but only after the lapse of three or four days. This is a precautionary measure to prevent the embalmers from violating her corpse, a thing which is actually said to have happened in the case of a woman who had just died."

There are three types of necrophilia.

  • Necrophilic homicide, where a person kills somebody and then has sex with the corpse.
  • A necrophilic fantasy where the person will have only sexual fantasies with a corpse.
  • Regular necrophilia where the person uses only the corpse to satisfy his sexual instincts.

Necrophilic homicide is very rare and this sexual disorder is usually a victimless interest, unlike any other sexual fantasy. It is said that necrophilia existed during the history itself and was practiced in some civilization and culture to spiritually communicate with the dead to maintain a strong bond with them after-life. In some societies (especially central European societies), the practice was carried out with young, unmarried women since they believed that they wouldn't find peace unless they had an intercourse before being buried. Necrophilia is supposed to occur among animals also.

Some of the main cause for such irregular behavior towards sex are listed below,

When a person, (usually men) experiences rejection of love by the opposite sex, every other day, he desires a sexual partner who is incapable of rejecting him. Alas! He can have such a relationship only with the one that doesn't beat the rhythm of life.

  • He also fears the dead and he tries to transform his fear by reaction formation into a desire.
  • He develops an exciting fantasy of sex with a corpse, sometimes after exposure to a corpse.
  • A research states that 68% of necrophiles were motivated by a desire for an unrejecting partner, 21% by a desire for reunion with a lost partner; 15 % by sexual attraction to dead people, 15 %by a desire for comfort or to overcome feelings of isolation and 12 % by a desire to remedy low self-esteem by expressing power over a corpse. Another research conducted in England states that some necrophiles tend to choose a dead mate after failing to create romantic attachments with the living.

Although assumed rare, many have argued that necrophilia may be more prevalent than statistics imply, given that the act would be carried out in secret with a victim unable to complain and given the length of time which the paraphilia has been recognized.

An important study in the area in 1988 by Rosman and Resnick compiled 122 cases of necrophilia, both from the literature and previously unreported cases referred to the investigators by colleagues. A large number of cases in that study is noteworthy.


Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Inability to relate with the living.
  • Fascination with foul odors.
  • Lack of spontaneity.
  • Language that includes numerous death-related or the excretory system.
  • Appreciation for machines over people.
  • Insensitivity to a tragedy involving loss of life.
  • Dry skin.
  • Interest in sickness and death.
  • Incapacity to laugh.
  • A tendency to smirk.
  • Usually wears dark colors, while disliking bright ones.
  • A view that the past is more real than the present.
  • A belief that resolving conflict needs force or violence.
  • Compartmentalization of emotion and will.
  • Tends to be bored.
  • Worship of techniques or devices of destruction.
  • Tends to break and mutilate small things. Can be expressed more drastically as self-mutilation.
  • Enthralled by skeletons.


The DSM-IV-TR criteria for necrophilia are the presence, over a period of at least six months, of recurrent and intense urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving corpses which are either acted upon or have been markedly distressing.


The individual should be assessed for associated psychopathology and treated accordingly. Treatment for necrophilia would be similar to that prescribed for most paraphilias: cognitive therapy, use of sex-drive reducing medications, assistance with improving social and sexual relations, etc.

NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


  1. David McCrory

    Are there organic causes could a person be born that way and are there genetic factors?

    • maisteri

      Unfortunately, there is no data regarding any possible genetic disorders causing necrophilia. In general, it is considered that necrophilia develops as a result of previous psychological trauma which, in turn, causes the person’s fear of rejection and wish to have some intimacy without the risk of being rejected.


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