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Necrophilia is a psychosexual disorder where there is an intense sexual desire for a corpse or dead body. It encompasses both merely having fantasies of a sexual nature about corpses and actually acting on those desires. The disorder is treated with intense psychological therapy. When necessary, medications to reduce sex drive may be administered.
Paraphilia is a term that encompasses sexual disorders that cause sexual arousal or desire for things other than the norm. These include bestiality, pedophilia and necrophilia. These desires or actions may cause severe distress to both the sufferer and his victim, and require urgent psychological intervention.
Forms of necrophilia have been documented throughout history, including cases in some cultures where it was practiced as a ritual after death, especially in the case of young girls dying as virgins. It is now a recognized psychiatric condition and is illegal in most countries worldwide. People with necrophilia often suffer from other forms of paraphilia and psychiatric illness. Although actual numbers of people with necrophilia are unknown, it has most commonly been reported in people in close contact with corpses, such as gravediggers, hospital workers and mortuary technicians.
The official criteria for being diagnosed with necrophilia is established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Society. This is commonly known as DSM and is a diagnostic tool for all mental disorders. A person is diagnosed with necrophilia if he has a six-month history of recurrent and intense urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving the dead, whether or not these are acted upon.
Necrophilia encompasses a large range of behaviors, from kissing or inappropriately touching corpses, to actual sexual intercourse, to homicide to obtain a corpse. Most documented cases have involved males who are heterosexual. Statistics, however, are hard to come by, due to the nature of the disorder and the fact that the victim cannot report the act.
Urgent psychiatric help is required in these patients. Depending on the severity of the condition, the patient may require some time as an in-patient in a psychiatric institution while he goes through intense cognitive therapy. Often it is found that an underlying self-esteem problem, sexual or mental abuse from childhood and social disorders are present, which need to be worked through and treated. In some cases, where uncontrollable sexual urge is a co-factor, medication, such as hormones, may be prescribed to reduce sexual urge.