Cannabilism is a practice that goes back tens of thousands of years. One instance includes the cannibals of Gough’s cave in England. There is archaeological evidence that goes back 14,700 years, showing that Britain’s earliest settlers may have eaten each other in order to survive the ice age. In the modern era, cannibalism was used as a way to survive famine and war. However, there is no evidence to suggest cannibalism has ever been socially acceptable. There have been instances where individuals have practised cannibalism for no reason other than the pleasure they derive from consuming human meat – cases include that of Jeffery Dahmer, Albert Fish and Armin Meiwes.

This begs the question, what leads these individuals to lure, hunt and consume other humans?

Early Childhood Trauma

One common feature of cannibalism is that cannibals often have had a traumatic childhood which may involve sexual or physical abuse. Those that have had traumatic experiences at a young age have less developed emotional regions of their brains. This makes them more likely to seek out dangerous and violent experiences – which could include butchering a fellow human.

Social Exclusion

Cannibals are often socially isolated individuals. There is a correlation between this isolation and violent behaviours due to resentment of society. The lack of social contacts may also make it easier for individuals to get away with their crimes as there are fewer people around them to find anything suspicious.

Psychopathy (Antisocial Personality Disorder)

Cannibals often score highly in the dark triad traits which are narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Many cannibals show signs of psychopathy – this can be the result of early childhood trauma.  Psychopaths are often fully aware of what they are doing but are unable to see why it is wrong. They cannot empathise with their victims. These individuals are also often very enthusiastic about their culinary processes, describing it in vivid language. In fact, cannibal Ivan L decided to make internet videos of him cooking his victims. He also stated he did not regret anything he did.

Vorarephilia

Although it is rare, some individuals experience sexual gratification from the act of killing and consuming other people. The infamous Armin Meiwes is said to have advertised online, his desire to consume another human for sexual reasons – and he received a volunteer!

Addiction

Once the taste for human meat has been acquired, it can become addictive. Cannibalism often starts out as a fantasy, but once it has become a reality the brain activates a release of dopamine. This experience causes the individual to seek out the activity again in order to get the feeling of another dopamine release.

In conclusion:

There are many factors that are correlated with the desire to eat our own. However, it is very important to note that correlation does not equal causation. Most individuals that have experienced childhood trauma, social exclusion, antisocial personality disorder or addiction will NOT go on to cause harm to others.

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7 thoughts on “Why Do Humans Eat Other Humans?

  1. The act of eating a living being is the antithesis of evolutionary progress. In Delhi, India, a man along with his domestic help are serving a life sentence in a shocking case of necrophilia and paedophilic savagery . Deep-rooted problem, linked to traumatic and violence-scarred childhood!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, interesting. it reminds me on Armin Meiwes who amicably castrated his victim with a kitchen knife, cooked the genital organs for the victim, who ate them, then Meiwes killed the man to eat him, as agreed in advance. On youtube, there is a 2 hrs interview with A. Meiwes available (in German only). He explains among other aspects / issues that wanted to realize his phantasy of owning somebody completely. He doesn´t want to be separatetd and left alone again. Meiwes told the interviewer, he always had the wish to get a younger brother to whom he could have been close.
    It seems that eating another, preferably younger (but grown-up) man was the ultimate way for him to ensure proximity and to eliminate the risk to be left alone.
    By the way, his victim agreed on this deal because he wanted to be castrated, and it was his desire to eat his penis in expectation of the ultimate, supreme orgasm.
    Other, additional candidates of Meiwes were focused on sexual satisfaction by experiencing butchery scenarios.
    Meiwes confirms that he would have continued with eating people because he was not satisfied with the implementation of the plan. There were a number of slip-ups. For instance, it was a challenge to cut off the penis, as described in all details in a relaxed interview atmosphere. Besides, his victim lied about his age and was not so much in well shape, as promised.
    Meiwes confirmed that he should not be released from prison & preventive detention for the rest of his life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have some sick folks there, but I have just been wondering if there might be some authentic source for info regarding any such sport (levity) being practiced by the indigenous people of the western hemisphere.

    Like

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