Hybristophilia: the attraction to dangerous people
For many centuries now, we have tended to think of human beings as rational animals. However, in practice there are many aspects of our behavior that reveal that this is not the case. Hybristophilia, which is a tendency to be attracted to dangerous people or prone to harm others, is one of them.
When it comes to sharing a relationship based on intimacy and trust with someone, it seems very clear that the more dangerous the chosen partner, the greater the chances of things going wrong. In many cases, in fact, there can be cases of psychological and physical abuse.
So, what explains the existence of hybristophilia? How does it happen? Let’s look at it.
Characteristics of Hybristophilia
Hybristophilia, a term coined by psychologist John Money, is the tendency to be attracted to individuals who have been shown to be prone to harm others. As an example, criminals, murderers and delinquents in general can be considered a romantic or sexual target precisely because of their condition, because they are outside the law .
Hybristophilia can therefore be considered a type of paraphilia, since its existence can endanger the physical and mental integrity of people. In fact, the propensity to commit acts of domestic violence is significantly higher in the case of offenders and criminals, which means that the risk is high.
Examples of criminals and killers with fans
According to John Money this phenomenon can occur in practically any personality profile, but in practice it occurs more often in heterosexual women.
This corresponds to many of the most mediatized cases of hybristophilia, which have to do with highly dangerous murderers and criminals who, despite not being able to hide their guilt in cases where there were fatalities, had several female admirers interested in them in a romantic sense.
Some examples of hybristophilia can be found in the authentic “fan” phenomena that appeared during the judicial process or the imprisonment of murderers and criminals.
1. Charles Manson
Charles Manson, known for being involved in several murders and organizing a cult, had several lovers in spite of his acts and his bizarre personality .
2. Ted Bundy
Another similar case was that of Ted Bundy, a serial killer and responsible for the death of dozens of people who even married an admirer after being convicted and received many love letters in prison. Sent by different women.
3. Josef Fritzl
The so-called Amstetten Monster has been receiving love letters during his imprisonment , despite being convicted of locking up his daughter for 24 years, marrying her and having several sons and daughters with her.
What are its causes? Why does it occur more in women?
There is no definitive explanation for the existence of hybristophilia. Although from an evolutionary perspective it can be considered that there are people with genes that lead them to seek a strong, powerful partner with the ability to subdue others by force , this explanation leaves too many loose ends. It has also been proposed that violent people tend to have a combination of three personality traits that is considered attractive: the Dark Triad.
On the contrary, it is possible to understand hybristophilia as the behavioral perspective understands paraphilias in general. Having gone through the learning of certain contingencies (association between stimuli and actions) may cause some people to get used to conceiving danger as a desirable personal trait. For example, because of the absence of a strong and authoritative figure during youth, something that is perceived as a lost opportunity to organize one’s life well.
However, when it comes to explaining why hybristophilia occurs more in women, we cannot ignore the concept of patriarchy , a system of authority and power at the top of which are always men. It is hypothesized that because of patriarchy male characteristics are seen as extremely desirable, and violence and subjugation of others consistently expresses these kinds of values.
Hybristophilia can therefore be one of the consequences of what happens when the logics of patriarchy are learned “too well” and are taken to the ultimate consequences: if the woman must be submissive and accept the authority of the man with whom she forms a couple, it is better that the latter has the capacity to eliminate possible enemies, or to annul them.
Is there a treatment?
There is no specific treatment for hybristophilia, among other things because at present does not appear in diagnostic manuals as a mental disorder . Furthermore, it is not a paraphilia based on a very specific erotic element, such as heels or gloves. What produces attraction is something more abstract, and therefore difficult to control in a clinical context.