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"No psychological profile of a cannibal: VIMHANS"

"I cannot give you a psychological profile of a cannibal because there is none," says Dr Prem Lata Chawla, a senior psychiatrist with VIMHANS.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2004 13:37 IST

"I cannot give you a psychological profile of a cannibal because there is none," says Dr Prem Lata Chawla, a senior psychiatrist with VIMHANS.

Cannibalism is not a subject matter in psychology text books and any comment by psychiatrists on the behaviour pattern of a cannibal is nothing better than a mere guess, she says.

"It is as impossible to affirm that it is a mental disorder as it is to analyse what exactly triggers this behaviour," she further adds.

Some hundred years back, eating human flesh, the brain in particular, was known to be a ritual observed by some tribes, which was thus passed down generations as a habit. But now that those rituals have long ceased to exist and one still gets to hear of random cases, psychologists seem to be at a loss for any kind of explanation.

"We have heard of cases where people have eaten human flesh for survival, as for example people stranded on some isolated stretch after a ship wreck or a plane crash but even then, the survivors have eaten those who were already dead and not killed someone for appetite," Dr Chawla reasons.

Killing someone to derive the pleasure of eating human flesh without any guilt or remorse is something too perverse and abhorrent and as of now, beyond the comprehension of psychiatrists as well, she quips.

What pychologists say in the German cannibal case

A psychological expert witness said Meiwes had been subconsciously trying to consume a human being to fill the void caused by the departure of his father and brother, which left him to care for his domineering mother until her death.

Meiwes's video of the killing, in March 2001 in his sprawling half-timbered home in Rotenburg near Kassel, persuaded even prosecutors to concede the death was voluntary.

Media and observers were kept outside while the tape was shown to the court in December. One newspaper said a woman almost fainted during the film, which shows Meiwes talking to the severed head while he disembowels the body, hung from a butcher's hook in his slaughter room.

"We've seen people growing accustomed to a sub-culture that we couldn't imagine existed before this trial," Muetze said.

"We've opened a door we would rather close again but which shows how many people in need of help live out their fantasies on the Internet," he said.

With no trace of embarrassment, Meiwes said the killing had begun by him trying unsuccessfully to bite off the victim's penis at the latter's request, then cutting it off with a knife.

They both tried to eat it raw, and then fried it, trying again unsuccessfully to eat it. Meiwes then waited for hours until the victim, weakened by loss of blood from his wound, fell unconscious shortly after calling out that he needed to urinate.

He then laid him out on his butcher's bench, cut him in pieces and ate 20 kg (44 lbs) of the body over the following months, defrosting pieces portion by portion. He kept the skull in the freezer and buried other body parts in his garden.