Four Types of Cannibalism That May Put You Off Pork

Cannibalism, or the consumption of human flesh or organs by humans, is perhaps the ultimate cultural taboo in Western society. In fact, the word cannibal, originally derived from the indigenous Caribs tribe of the Lesser Antilles, also has routes in the Spanish word for “savage”.

While the existence of cannibalism has been widely disputed among scholars, especially in ancient contexts, there is much evidence for its practice. An incredible example comes from the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea where the practice of funerary cannibalism was often observed. The practice was so common that much of the tribe contracted a rare disease called Kuru – and it was transmitted through the consumption of the brains of the infected.

Unfortunately, we know that ritual and tradition are not the only reasons behind cannibalism. Join us as we explore four shocking reasons behind this practice.


Criminal cannibalism

You might be surprised to learn that in the United States and in the United Kingdom the practice of cannibalism itself is not illegal – it is simply considered socially unacceptable. Those who have been found to practice cannibalism are usually charged with another, directly related crime such as: grave robbery, necrophilia and even murder.

While it would be comforting to think that cannibalism does not exist in this so-called enlightened age, there are hundreds of documented cases within the last 100 years. There are four primary types of criminal cannibalism: aggression cannibalism; sexual cannibalism; ritual cannibalism; and nutritional cannibalism. As you might expect, there are varying degrees of overlap between these types.


1. Aggression cannibalism

Most acts of modern cannibalism are motivated by a desire to express power or control over the victim. Aggression cannibalism encompasses acts of cannibalism that are primarily motivated by feelings of anger that create a need to exert power, revenge or control over a victim by consuming them – often after committing their murder.

A terrifyingly recent example is that of Anna Zimmerman, the German Cannibal Murderess. After murdering her boyfriend in a fit of anger, she dissected his body into manageable steak size pieces and froze them. She would then defrost portions, cook and feed him to her unsuspecting children.

Aggression cannibalism is one of the more common forms of cannibalism and often overlaps with other types especially ritualistic and sexual cannibalism.


2. Sexual cannibalism

Sexual cannibalism is classified as a psychosexual disorder – it involves a person sexualising the consumption of another human being. This type of cannibalism is often associated with the act of necrophilia (you can read more about this disturbing practice here).

According to Lesley Hensel, author of Cannibalism as a Sexual Disorder, eating human flesh can cause an increase in levels of vitamin A and amino acids, which causes a chemical reaction in the brain that could possibly lead to the euphoric, verging on orgasmic state that some cannibals have claimed to experience. However, this theory has not been substantiated by other research.

Heard of Andrei Chikatilo? He was a a Russian serial killer responsible for the murders of at least fifty two boys and girls. He would often mutilate and then consume the flesh of his victims, with a particular focus of the more intimate body parts. Chikatilo claimed that he was disgusted by the “loose morals” of many of his victims, who served as painful reminders of his own sexual impotence. In fact, it is suspected that he was only able to achieve sexual gratification when torturing, murdering and subsequently consuming his victims.


3. Ritualistic cannibalism

Modern ritualistic cannibalism is quite similar to the cannibalism observed in tribes and past civilisations. Nowadays, it is more often associated with satanic or cult rituals. While these instances of cannibalism are often performed in groups, there are cases of individuals partaking in these rituals. Famous examples include Jeffrey Dahmer and Edmund Kemper, who claimed that when they consumed their victims, the victims became a spiritual part of the perpetrator.


4. Nutritional cannibalism

It is (hopefully) likely that very few of you have ever seriously considered investigating what human flesh tastes like. But, in case you were curious, according to Nicolas Claux, also known as the Vampire of Paris, it tastes just like steak tartare. Nutritional cannibalism is motivated by an enjoyment of the taste of human flesh or the consumption of it for perceived nutritional value.

Convicted in 1994 for the murder of Thierry Bissonier as well as several counts of grave robbery, Claux was a practicing satanist who preferred the taste of raw human flesh above all else. A former worker at a children’s hospital morgue, he confessed to removing strips of flesh from corpses on the morgue slab to take home and consume. Disturbingly, Claux also admitted to prowling graveyards and digging up fresh graves for ingredients to create a cocktail made of human blood mixed with cremation ashes.

Your turn: Do you have any stories of modern cannibalism to share? Do you think that this practice should be made illegal once and for all? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.




  • Joy says:

    Cannibalism is – IMHO – a subject best left in a legal grey area. Your article did not mention the Donner Party. Wikipedia has an excellent article about this incident. The Donner Party was a group of pioneers who tried to cross Sierra Nevada mountains in middle of winter, in mid 1800’s, with disastrous results. Donner Pass is over 7,000 feet (about 2,150m) high. Some of the party managed NOT to starve to death by eating their dead companions.
    People who eat people for thrills are one thing, and yeah, they need to do some serious jail time – and/or time in the insane asylum. But the folks in the Donner Party? Different circumstances altogether. Specifying mandatory punishment for this would tie a judge’s hands, leaving him(or her) no choice. That’s why I lean more towards leaving this in the grey zone.

    • daniellaafeltra says:

      Hi Joy. You are absolutely right. While we chose to focus on the more criminal forms, cannibalism for the sake of survival (unsurprisingly referred to as survival cannibalism) does sometimes necessitate this practice.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share that fascinating story. Another that might be of interest to you is that of the rugby players in the 1970s that were forced to consume their teammates after their plane crashed in the Andes Mountains. Sadly, those who refused starved to death.

    • sedra says:

      In my opinion, there could possibly be another type of this disorder from suttle introduction of human consumption of meat. This newly discovered type does not realize that are becoming this type because of the meat being tainted with meat without them knowing it is happening. store buying cannables that become accustomed to the taste and texture without knowing that is happening at that time. it has also been my experience that this type of meat product is making people sick without them knowing that they are consuming this product. A lot of my associates that are eating this product are now at first getting sick and then eating more with their bodies adjusting to new consumption, and possibly becoming addicted and without having a choice of consumption from the beginning, may chosen an alternative to that product if they had known. I am not sure how this problem could progress later, but my research before shut down of information, was a leading casuse for altzheimers, hunting’s disease, and parkinson as well. My research before editing of internet information, showed it may become a bit of a problem throughout possibly other european nations as well. Dog food companies may be disposing of dead in other ways less expensive than funerals ect.. China especially because of population

  • it is illegal to kill and eat human in the united states. stop lying to people to cover your murdering soul in nursing homes and other places in Amarillo. you an animal for eating people and you always will be animals. you prey on us for food. That is what animals do, and furthermore ora lsex and how much you do and like it, and how much of a habit it becomes explains the animal in you. Satan never changes and is the father of lies, and you are stupid enough to believe what he says as a lyar. A canabal society can never succeed. You eat more than you can grow in the womb.

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