Serial killers are terrifying, no doubt. But why, for certain people, are serial killers more attractive than slot games? Hybristophilia is the phenomenon wherein a person is attracted to someone who has committed an offensive or violent act – you know, like murder. All Slots investigates the psychology between people who fall for the Big Bads of society, and what that means about them as individuals.
Falling for the Bad Guy
From Zac Ephron playing Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile to Penn Badgley in You, television and movie fans (mostly of the female persuasion) find themselves unavoidably crushing on or at least empathizing with these tyrannical cases. In some cases, the shows intentionally create this attraction to create a social commentary.
However, some people go beyond falling into the trap of getting goo-goo eyed over horrific, yet physically pleasing fictional characters. Some people fall for and may go to the lengths of pursuing contact with real serial killers in our world. This type of paraphilia (attraction characterized by abnormal behaviors and desires) is a whole new layer of strange and deserves further exploration into what makes this type of person tick.
The Reality of Hybristophilia
When a television series viewer or movie fan falls for a serial killer on screen, it’s because he is a hot guy. Women, and men, are programmed to gravitate toward hot, dominant people. However, real serial killers, with the exception of men like Ted Bundy and notorious killer Richard Ramirez, are not typically eye candy.
With true hybristophiliacs, the arousal and intrigue is created by the fact that this person has committed a heinous crime. So, no, because you find that Michael C. Hall of Dexter dashingly handsome and broodingly complex does not make you a hybristophiliac. If you found yourself feeling the same about real-life serial killers and were turned on by the crimes committed, you may be need to be concerned.
Most known serial killers are behind bars, which means most cases of hybristophilia are in the form of letters sent and received to a criminal in prison. In this case, the non-criminal party must feel arousal over the whole correspondence with a criminal situation to be considered a hybristophiliac. Simply keeping in contact with someone in prison or writing to a criminal you do not know does not make you part of this niche oddity.
Why Do Women Really Fall in Love with Murderers?
Sheila Isenberg, who wrote “Women Who Love Men Who Kill,” has found there are two basic groups of people, women and men, who end up falling for or actually forming relationships with murderers. The first group falls in love with “ordinary murderers.” Despite the act of slaying someone else, they believe the see the good in that person or the “true” side. They want to help – they think they can change him or her. The other group are those who begin relationships with infamous killers because they want to share a scrap of that spotlight, regardless of how twisted the reason is why they were propelled into fame.
With both groups, one could argue there is underlying narcissism. Whether the intention to be with a killer is founded in some Mother Theresa hope that they will change and bring out the best in this person, the reality is that they feel they could receive immunity from the throes of their paramour’s homicidal tendencies. They also feel they could be the one, because their heart is so pure and they love so deeply, to turn this criminal around to be “good.” Or, in some cases, they just want to jump on board with the crime and be partners, a la Bonnie and Clyde.
So, Tell Me Again Why I am Obsessed with Dexter?
Even if you are fascinated with all things serial killer on television, it still doesn’t mean you are a hybristophiliac. Again, the difference lies in actually feeling aroused by the sight of the crime being committed or watching the “hero” slay another human being. If you don’t feel turned on but are just intrigued, chances are high you do not have hybristophilia. If you felt like you could never miss a show or long for the series while watching something else, or never watched anything but serial killer shows, you may want to investigate your mind more deeply.
However, a fascination with serial killers in general is common. A main reason people watch serial killer shows and read about them is the need to understand why someone would go to such lengths to take another’s life. Most of us thankfully will never have to know this personally, but, just as horror films intrigue us because we can briefly partake in a world we never want to know, we gravitate towards killers for the same reason.