Difference between Necrophilia and Cannibalism | 5 Horrible Facts

difference between necrophilia and cannibalism

Numerous behaviors and practices drive entire living organisms. The difference between necrophilia and cannibalism is in their types of acts, desires, and impulsions. 

When we speak of a civilized society, it refers to a well-organized system, courteous citizens, ethics, norms, values, and so on. Yet, the fact is every civic society witnesses bizarre, unacceptable, monstrous stuff.

Necrophilia and Cannibalism are not only confined within humans but can also be found among many other species.

The word ‘Necrophilia’ means sexual activities with corpses. On the other hand, ‘Cannibalism’ is consuming an individual from one’s own biological genus as food. Another term called ‘Cannibal necrophilia’ (also called necrophilic cannibalism) means necrophilic and cannibalistic activities simultaneously.

Comparison chart

MeaningNecrophilia means sexual attraction towards or sexual activities with corpsesCannibalism means consuming an individual from the same genus as food.
Sex orientationNecrophilia is a sexual orientation.Cannibalism is not a sexual orientation. But, sexual cannibalism is a pattern of sexuality in some species. Necrophilic cannibalism is a sexual orientation under necrophilia.
Disease or SymptomNecrophilia is classified as ‘Paraphilia’ in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) by the World Health Organization (WHO).Cannibalism is practiced as a cultural norm in various tribes. Necrophilic cannibalism is a paraphilia.
Serial killersGary Leon Ridgway, Serhiy Fedorovich Tkach, etc.Karl Denke,Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer etc.

What is Necrophilia?

The word Necrophilia comes from two Classical Greek words, Necros (Νεκρoς) means dead and Philia (Φιλια) means love. We can divide necrophilia orientation into two categories:

  • Psychological – Sexual attraction towards corpses by nature.
  • Habituated – Habituated to sexual activities with corpses.

Some people acquire necrophilic psychology for other reasons. Necrophilia is classified as Paraphilia (a neuro-psychological disorder of various kinds of sexual interest) in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Necrophilia is seen in some species too. Human being has more necrophilic record than other mammals.

Types of necrophilia

There are various types of necrophilia found based on necrophilic desires and interactions. A couple of classifications are mentioned below:

  • Romantic necrophilia: People who remain attached to their lover’s dead body.
  • Necrophiliac fantasizers:  The person who has necrophiliac fantasies but never physically interacts with corpses.
  • Role players: A person who gets aroused by pretending his/her real-life partner as dead during sexual activities.
  • Opportunistic necrophiliacs: These types of persons are not interested in necrophilia normally, but they do not miss the opportunity when it arises.
  • Tactile necrophiliacs: A tactile necrophiliac gets aroused by touching or stroking a corpse.
  • Homicidal necrophiliacs: A person who kills someone to have sexual intercourse with the victim.
  • Regular necrophiliacs: The person who prefers to have sex with a dead body.
  • Fetishistic necrophiliacs: A person who removes objects or body parts from a dead body for sexual purposes.

Necrophiliac serial killers

Serhiy Fedorovich Tkach, known as the “Pavlohrad Maniac” and the “Polohy Maniac” was a Soviet and Ukrainian person. He was born in 1952 and served in the Soviet Army. He served for the Soviet Army and worked as a police criminal investigator. 

From 1984 to 2005, Tkach killed several young women and girls and performed necrophilic activities with the victims. He was arrested in August 2005 and confessed to killing over one hundred people until he got arrested. 

He demanded the death penalty for himself. In 2008, a tribunal sentenced him the life imprisonment for murdering thirty-seven women and girls. For the years, fifteen men were wrongly jailed for Tkach’s some of the murders; one of them committed suicide. Tkach was a pedophile necrophiliac serial killer.

Gary Leon Ridgway, born in 1949 in the United States, is a necrophiliac serial killer. He is known as “The Green River Killer.” His victims’ proven number is forty-nine, but he confessed about murdering seventy-one women. He has the highest proven numbers of killing among the necrophiliac sexual serial killers. He used to kill the victim during sex or after. 

In November 2001, Ridgway was arrested on suspicion of homicide. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Gary Leon Ridgway is not in the “regular necrophile”.

NameActive yearsNationalityProven number of victimsPossible number of victimsComments
Gary Leon Ridgway1982–1998 (possibly 2001)The United States of America4965 to 71Necrophiliac and sexual serial killer
Serhiy Fedorovich Tkach1984–2005Soviet Union, Ukraine37100+Pedophile necrophiliac serial killer

Other infamous necrophiliac serial killers are Theodore Robert Bundy (Ted Bundy), Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer, Dennis Nilsen, Andrei Chikatilo, Joseph Vacher, Robert Yates, Earle Nelson, Richard Ramirez, Mark Dixie, Robert Napper, Peter Sutcliffe, Albert Fish, and Peter Kürten.

What is Cannibalism?

Consuming an individual as food by another individual from the same biological genus is cannibalism. In nature, it is natural in some genus and species. More than fifteen hundred (1500) species have a cannibalistic record-for example, the European mantis (Mantis religiosa).

Types of cannibalism

Different types of cannibalism are found in humans, species of insects and animals. Some are described below:

Cannibalism in different species

  • Intrauterine cannibalism or Oophagy: Cannibalism introduces in some true Carnivore animals at an embryonic stage are called intrauterine cannibalism or oophagy. In which the larger embryos eat their siblings. In this way, the oophagous embryo gets more nutrition. Example: Domestic cat (Felis catus).
  • Infanticide: Infanticide is seen in some species where adults consume the young or newborn infants of their own species. Example: Lion (Panthera leo).
  • Filial cannibalism: Filial cannibalism means where adults consume their own offspring. It also occurs in various species, such as Domestic cats (Felis catus).
  • Sexual cannibalism: Sexual cannibalism is a natural behavior in some organisms, mainly in a large number of organisms. For example, a Mediterranean black widow spider (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus). The female eats up the male after sex. In a few species, reversed sexual cannibalism exists. Here the male eats up the female after sex. Example: Southern South American wolf spider (Allocosa brasiliensis).

Human cannibalism

The digestive system of the human being is not a true carnivorous one. But human beings make themselves able to consume various animal food processed by cooking. The history of human cannibalism is very ancient. Some have ritualistic religious history. 

Indigenous people in some parts of the world have a long cannibalistic account. Various Amerindian populations had cannibalistic religious rituals. There have been reports of cannibalism in war and famine in civilized people. 

We found human cannibalism in World War II, civil wars in Africa, and tribal wars in Polynesia. Cannibalism was practiced in ancient Egypt and Aztec civilization. 

Still today, there are cannibal tribes in Papua New Guinea, Northern Australia, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Oceania. Some indigenous tribes have a ritual of consuming corpses of their relatives as a funerary ritual.

Cannibal serial killers:

Karl Denke was a Prussian and German cannibal serial killer, in 1860. He kept a ledger recording his murders, which proved at least thirty incideants later. He murdered and cannibalized economically insolvent travelers and homeless vagabonds. It is assumed that Denke sold the flesh of his victims to unsuspecting customers.

Karl Denke was known as ‘Papa’ by his community, volunteered as a cross-bearer and organist at a local German Lutheran Protestant church (now in Poland). He was arrested in 1924 and placed in a cell where he hanged himself. A number of human body parts were found in his home. The possible number of his victims were more than forty-two, the highest number of killing recorded among all the cannibal necrophilic serial killers to date.

NameActive yearsNationalityProven number of victimsPossible number of victimsComments
Karl Denke1903–1924The Kingdom of Prussian, Empire of Germany3042+Cannibal serial killer

Some other notorious cannibal serial killers were; Hamilton Howard “Albert” Fish, Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer “The Milwaukee Cannibal.” etc.

The key differences between Necrophilia and Cannibalism

  1. Necrophilia means sexual attraction towards or sexual activities with corpses. Cannibalism means consuming someone from the same biological genus as food.
  2. Another difference between necrophilia and cannibalism is in their orientation. Necrophilia is specifically a sexual activity. On the other hand, Cannibalism is not a sexual act and is found in various species in nature.
  3. Necrophilia is a neuropsychological disorder. On the other hand, the practice of Cannibalism is found in various tribal cultures.
  4. Gary Leon Ridgway, Serhiy Fedorovich Tkach, Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer, Dennis Nilsen, Andrei Chikatilo are some detained notorious necrophiliac serial killers.  And Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert Fish, Andrei Chikatilo, Boone Helm, etc., are some notorious cannibal murderers.
  5. Necrophilia is seen among various animals like kangaroos, crows, toads, penguins, etc. Cannibalism can be seen among insects and animals like spiders, salamanders, hippopotamuses, etc.

Necrophilic cannibalism or cannibal necrophilia

Necrophilic cannibalism means cannibalism with a necrophilic desire. ‘Sexual cannibalism’ is seen in some creatures. But necrophilic cannibalism and sexual cannibalism are not coined for similar behavior.

Difference between Necrophilic cannibalism and Sexual cannibalism

In sexual cannibalism, the female cannibalizes the male after sex. But necrophilic cannibalism is a type of necrophilia. In necrophilic cannibalism, the necrophiliac has a craven desire to consume the flesh of the corpse. In both cases, cannibalization is just a part of sexual activity. Some Aghoris in India were used to necrophilic and cannibal activities but not engaged in homicide.

Cannibal necrophiliac serial killers

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer, aka “The Milwaukee Cannibal,” was a United States citizen. He was born in 1960. At the age of eighteen (18), he joined the United States Army. Later, He was attested by two male soldiers to have raped them while in the Army. For his excessive alcohol abuse, he was discharged from the Army.

On July 22, 1991, Dahmer was arrested for possessing human body parts and their photographs in his Milwaukee apartment. He confessed necrophilic activities with his victims’ bodies and cannibalizing some of them. In 1992, Dahmer was ruled by the court to be sane at the time of his every crime. He was pleaded guilty and sentenced to a 16th term of life imprisonment.

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer had the highest number of killing among the cannibal necrophiliac serial killers. He was a homosexual necrophiliac cannibal serial killer because all of his victims were male. The number of his proven victims is sixteen, but the possible number of victims is seventeen. His necrophiliac cannibal behavior developed during his adolescent age, and he was very lonesome. Dahmer once said that lust played a big part in his killings.

NameActive yearsNationalityProven number of victimsPossible number of victimsComments
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer1978–1991The United States of America1617Homosexual necrophiliac cannibal serial killer

Other recorded incidents of Human cannibalism

Armin Meiwes, known as “The Rotenburg Cannibal” and “Der Metzgermeister (Master Butcher),” is a German and worked as a computer repair technician. He was born in 1961. 

In 2001, Armin Meiwes posted an advertisement on a website named ‘The Cannibal Café’ and asked for a normally-built body stat young(18 to 25 years old) person to be a victim of Cannibalization. 

Many people responded to the advertisement at first but changed their minds later. Finally, an engineer from Berlin named Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes agreed to be a victim. After some act of sexual fetishism, Meiwes murdered Brandes and cannibalized much of his body. They made a videotape of the entire activities.

Alerted by new advertisements for the victims online, authorities arrested Meiwes in 2002. Investigators found body parts and the videotape of the corpse. In 2004 Meiwes was convicted and sentenced to eight years and six months in prison. Like Jeffrey Dahmer, Meiwes’s cannibal mentality developed during his adolescent age, and he was a lonesome person.

In 2019, a 23-year old man in Texas, the United States, named Alexander Nathan Barter, was arrested; he was pleaded guilty to attempted coercion and invitation of a minor and distribution of child pornography and sentenced to 40 years in Jail. 

In October 2018, Barter posted an advertisement on the dark web and stated that he would like to try necrophilia and cannibalism to see how it feels—seeing the advertisement, an undercover officer utilizing the guise of a father of a 13-year old girl set a trap.

Barter and the officer exchanged messages for several days where Barter repeatedly expressed his desire to rape, kill and eat the 13-year old child. Barter provided the undercover officer with the instructions about what to tell the girl to get her consent to travel, travel from Florida to Shelby County, Texas, and cover up the evidence of their crime.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs):

What is the difference between necrophilia and necromancy?

Necrophilia means having sex or feeling sexual desire for a dead body. The word ‘Necrophilia’ comes from two Classical Greek words, ‘Necros (Νεκρoς)’ means ‘dead’ and ‘Philia (Φιλια)’ means ‘love.’ On the other hand, the term ‘Necromancy’ comes from the Classical Greek word ‘Necros (Νεκρoς)’ meaning ‘dead’ and the English word ‘Romance.’ ‘Necromancy.’ is the practice of conjuring the soul of the dead. It is a practice of communicating the spirits for prophecy or raising the dead for any purpose.

What do you call someone who has necrophilia?

Who has necrophilia is known as a necrophiliac, or a necrophile, or a necrophilic.

In what states is necrophilia legal?

In the law of various countries, including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. Federal Law, the term ‘Necrophilia’ is not mentioned. Different states in the United States have their own law against sex with a corpse, but no federal legislation against it. In the U.K., sexual penetration of a corpse is illegal. In Australia, misconduct to a corpse is an offense. In New Zealand, misconduct to the “human remains” is an offense.

What does cannibalism mean?

Cannibalism means eating an individual by someone from the same biological genera.

Why is it called necrophilia?

The word ‘Necrophilia’ comes from two Classical Greek words, ‘Necros (Νεκρoς)’ means ‘dead,’ and ‘Philia (Φιλια)’ means ‘love.’ It means love for the dead. It is called thus because necrophilia means sex with a dead body.

What is Necrophobia?

Necrophobia means fear of a dead body. Classical Greek words Necros (Νεκρoς) means ‘dead,’ and Phobos (Φοβος) means fear.

Why do bodies go black after death?

Nine to twelve hours after death, by gravity, blood begins to settle, and the dead body becomes black.

What is the meaning of the word corpse?

A corpse or cadaver is a dead human body used by students, physicians, or scientists.

Is cannibalism legal in the US?

There is no law addressing cannibalism In the United States. But homicide is not legal.

Is cannibalism legal in the UK?

There is no law addressing cannibalism In the UK. But homicide is not legal.


Cravings and desires are essential natures of every living species. Humans have the ability to control and wipe away all the disorders and evil intentions inhabiting inside in order to be civilized. But it cannot always be possible.  Here in this write-up, we have discussed the difference between necrophilia and cannibalism, two unacceptable behaviors living inside various creatures of nature.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top