From Corpse to Concept
Part Four: From Corpse to Concept
Part Four FROM CORPSE TO CONCEPT Chapter Eight Corpse, Concept, and Contagion Triggers sychotic persons do not respond to dead bodies in the same way as normal persons. Extreme psychotics are primarily concerned with objec- tifying their victim.1 They sometimes wear parts of the body, keep the corpse or parts near them, or consume the body. This extreme objectification of the victim by the psychotic is often reported as involving the transfer of the victim’s ‘essence’ to the psychotic. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. In interviews (MSNBC 2005 (replay)) after his arrest, Dahmer responded that he was driven to cannibalism because he, “wanted to have the victims un- der his complete control.” Dahmer claimed that by eating his victim’s body parts and internal organs, “it made me feel they were a permanent part of me” (emphasis added). Whatever his purported reasons, Dahmer engaged in various acts of handling, storing, and displaying the remainder of non-digested corpses; Dahmer moved them around in different places and in different ways. What is interesting here is that Dahmer, as well as other psychotic serial kill- ers, did not dispose of the bodies.2 Interestingly enough, fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) experi- ments with serial killers have shown that the limbic system in these extreme 1 As Meloy (1988) defines this characteristic as “a process in which affective and ideational components of the individual are attributed to another, while at the same time the other actual person...
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