Hybristophilia is a psychological disorder that involves a sexual attraction to those who have performed atrocities such as serial killers, for example. It is also known as Bonnie and Clyde syndrome and can see the person contact the criminal and even marry them. Examples of this include groupies for infamous figures such as Charles Manson and Richard Ramirez.
Hybristophilia is classified as a form of paraphilia. This is a wide class of problems where someone deviates from normal objects of sexual desire. Other examples of such conditions include love of inanimate objects, humiliation, animals, and children. Although in some cases what appears on the list depends on the culture. Homosexuality used to be on the list but has now been removed as times have changed, for example. Hybristophilia itself may have been acceptable and perhaps even encouraged in some of the more brutal societies in history.
Research into hybristophilia is still at quite an early stage. There is still no agreed upon classification or method of diagnosis for the condition, never mind any insights into the underlying causes of the problem. One feature that seems to be quite common is that it is usually women who follow males that have committed atrocities. There are two categories on the broad spectrum of this condition that have been put forward, though.
Category One is called Passive Hybristophilia. Examples of this include cases of women writing to notorious serial killers whilst they are in prison, such as Peter Sutcliffe, also known as the Yorkshire Ripper, in the UK, who murdered 13 women and was convicted in 1981. The letters sent by these women give characters like Sutcliffe enjoyment and control over the women. They even end up believing the man would do them no harm, that they could help rehabilitate them, and may even make excuses for the man’s past behaviour.
Category Two is called Aggressive Hybristophilia. This involves cases where the people attracted to the person who has committed the atrocities is sexually aroused by the acts themselves and wants to join in with them. This is the much darker form of the condition. The case of Myra Hindley and her love for child killer Ian Brady, and the help that she gave him in committing and covering up the murders, is a classic example of this version of the disorder. The bottom line on hybristophilia of both categories though, is that a lot more research is needed on what is a disturbing condition.
Dispute on Hybristophilia
A dispute is in place, as hybristophilia seems evidence or used to incriminate, this was true also for the defining of homosexuality before it was altered and then removed from psychiatric text. Homosexuality was “considered” or titled/classified as a mental disorder, until the 1970’s, now in the present date 30 years post “understanding”, homosexuals went from being social criminals in need of psychiatric care to normal citizens, due health care benefits to same sex partners, and the possibility of matrimony. (government workers can now receive/seek same sex health care benefits for their partners).
Sex is an instinctual act, however the practice of such can be social and environmental. While it is safe to write the formation of “a” sex life or sexual behavior is dawned from an individuals psychology/experience, that experience initiates a persons or individuals forming of “practices”. Often times the individual not studied in psychology or typically, could be “acting” according to sub-conscious nuances- or things they (one) may have “picked up”. (that does not mean in the street) behaviors, sub conscious or learned methods of-to practice, it is also safe to write the things such as discrimination, social rejection, abuse, neglect due to an individuals sexual identity in the formation of such or subconscious instincts- do in fact create a disposition.
The dispute is that, labeling behavior, can at times be ambiguous in nature or the terms actually are as time progresses, being the definition isn’t necessarily exact. As written above homosexuality was considered a mental disorder up until the 1970’s- this has changed by defining terms and homo-sex as opposed to hetero-sex is no longer classified under a term to be treated as a psychiatric disability.