There's an official diagnosis for people who fall for serial killers: Hybristophilia

By Rohan Smith

Ted Bundy is the object of affection for a growing number of women online. Photo: Getty Images
Ted Bundy is the object of affection for a growing number of women online. Photo: Getty Images

For most people, the grisly crimes of killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson make the stomach turn.

For a small group of others, the details have an entirely different effect: one of arousal.

Women say they're strangely attracted to the villains behind real life stories of young women being murdered.

Necrophilia is not out of bounds - in fact it's preferred by some women. Cannibalism is a plus for some - Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed and ate people is a real favourite among the increasingly social community.

On social media, young women swoon. On Facebook, they Photoshop their profile pictures to imagine themselves in the arms of a killer.

Where admiration once lived behind closed doors and in forums rarely visited by the majority, women dealing with hybristophilia - otherwise known as Bonny and Clyde syndrome - are declaring their love publicly.

'I liked him because he killed and ate people'

Vicetracked down women who had experienced feeling attracted to serial killers. Among them was a 17-year-old girl who said she loved Dahmer.

"I'm sexually attracted to people who have committed violent crimes," she said.

"I think my favourites are the ones who were into necrophilia. I was watching a documentary (about Dahmer) and I thought he was attractive, even though he was gay. It took me a while to realise I actually liked him because he killed and ate people."

She said she didn't want to kill people herself but "if someone I knew started killing people, I would probably want to screw them regardless of any other part of their personality."

On Facebook there are groups like Understanding Ted Bundy, of which Cornelia Queen is a member. Between sharing stories encouraging foster carers to adopt cats and advocating for music as a core subject in schools, she posts stories about why women love serial killers.

"I love thee so, darling Teddy," she wrote in a recent journal entry.

A 19-year-old woman told Vice she was excited by violence.

"One thing that interests me a lot (about) serial killers, psychopaths and sociopaths is how they deviate from the norm and don't really care," she said.

"Violence is just exciting. If I was to have a killer as a boyfriend it would make me excited. It's a bit like Russian roulette - my turn could be soon and he could kill me. Spice things up a big. Conventional stuff is boring."

Jeffrey Dahmer also has an online following. Photo: Getty Images
Jeffrey Dahmer also has an online following. Photo: Getty Images

'A biological impetus that operates apart from logic'

Psychologist Katherine Ramsland has written extensively about serial killers and attraction. For Psychology Today she wrote about the different reasons women gave for marrying serial killers.

"Some believe they can change a man as cruel and powerful as a serial killer. Others 'see' the little boy that the killer once was and seek to nurture him.

"Some mental health experts have compared infatuation with killers to extreme forms of fanaticism. They view such women as insecure females who cannot find love in normal ways or as 'love-avoidant' females who seek romantic relationships that cannot be consummated.

"Yet while this might be true in some cases, several devotees have been strikingly beautiful, educated, and even married. A few have been lawyers, psychologists, or judges."

She wrote that a "biological impetus operates apart from logic".

"Primate research finds that females prefer the larger, louder, more aggressive males who show clear markers of their maleness," Dr Ramsland wrote.

"In humans, then, certain women might sense in an aggressive male a larger-than-life companion who can deliver more than an ordinary man could. Through him, she subconsciously perceives, she gains status and protection."

Manson, Dahmer, Ramirez, Bundy

Four names continue to pop up in conversations about serial killers and their fans: Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and Richard Ramirez; a serial killer otherwise known as the "Night Stalker".

All four men had their admirers. In Manson's case, his was a woman 53 years his junior. Time Magazine reported in 2014 that Manson, whose victims included Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, began communicating with Afton Elaine Burton when she was a teenager.

Burton, now 27, has been visiting Manson, 81, since 2007 and the pair were issued with a marriage license in November, 2014.

She claims to be Manson's wife despite the paperwork "not going through". In an interview, Burton - who goes by the name "Star" - said she was in love.

"Why would I marry somebody if I wasn't?" she asked the interviewer.

Burton believes her fiance is innocent. It's a similar story for Ramirez' ex-wife Doreen. The Night Stalker killed 14 people and was convicted of five attempted murders and six rapes. Despite all of it, his wife professed his innocence.

"He's kind, he's funny, he's charming," she said in an interview with CNN in 1997. "I think he's really a great person. He's my best friend; he's my buddy."

She said she was well aware that people suspected she was crazy.

"I'm none of those things. I just believe in him completely. In my opinion, there was far more evidence to convict OJ Simpson and we all know how that turned out."

The pair eventually split but, at the time of Ramirez' death in 2013, he was involved with another woman.

A fan girl, 16, told Vice recently: "Ramirez is the most attractive. Bundy is second, and Dahmer is third."

'They have thousands and thousands of adoring fans'

Joy Krause directed the film Serial Killer Groupies. She told Huffington Post in 2014 that the people who have committed the most heinous crimes are the most popular.

"They have thousands and thousands of adoring fans," she said.

"I've spoken to dozens and dozens of women who have relationships with men on death row. Some are serial killers. I've talked to women first hand and I've learned (their reasons).

"There's this thing about being with an alpha male for instance - it's kind of a bizarre twist that an alpha male is strong, powerful, but to think of someone attracted to this personality ... to think that they can be protected by an alpha male, is a bizarre twist."

Psychologist Mark Griffiths said what drives women towards dangerous men is still unknown. Crime writer Mark Sennen wrote for The Telegraph that he knows a lot about serial killers but will never understand why women want them.

"Personally, I still don't understand how or why anyone could want a multiple murderer as a mate, but then I've never understood why women are attracted to alpha males either. But that's probably because, as my wife is fond of reminding me, I'm not one."

- news.com.au

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