Charles Manson, one of the world’s most notorious serial murderers, died recently.
If ever there was proof that some women have an irrational attraction to murderers (he orchestrated the murders, even though he never carried them out himself), it’s Manson.
Three years ago he became engaged to then 26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, a woman who ran a site called ‘Release Charles Manson Now’ and went by the name Star.
That marriage didn’t pan out for a number of reasons, but it did highlight something called hybristophilia – often referred to as Bonnie and Clyde syndrome.
Via Huff Post SA:
“Hybristophilia is a sexual disorder in which arousal is contingent on being with a partner who has committed an outrage, such as rape, torture or murder,” Katherine Ramsland, a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University and the author of The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, [said].
But hybristophilia isn’t always what drives women and men to feel an attraction to killers. In fact, Ramsland told HuffPost it’s rarely to blame.
She names a number of other mitigating factors, such as seeking fame by proxy, believing that they can “tame the ‘wild beast’ in a violent man”, and sometimes exploitation for financial means:
“These people go on talk shows to proclaim their love and insist that the convicted murderer got a raw deal or is ‘different’ now,” she added. “They may even take credit for ‘reforming’ him, as if their love was all he needed to change, the magical ingredient.”
So what’s something that seems to bind them all together? Let’s ask Sheila Isenberg, an English professor and the author of ‘Women Who Love Men Who Kill’:
“Without exception, the women I interviewed for my book had all been involved in early abusive relationships,” Isenberg said. “Their families, first boyfriends, husbands or someone else had abused them either sexually, physically, emotionally.”
According to Isenberg, getting involved with an imprisoned criminal gives the women some semblance of power.
“It’s a chance to be in control, often for the first time in their lives,” Isenberg told HuffPost. “They make the decisions, they are the ones with the freedom to come and go.”
It may seem counterintuitive, but “becoming involved with a violent convicted murderer feels safe for a woman who’s had an abusive past,” the writer said. “He’s behind bars; she’s not.”
In some ways, the convicted criminal is “the perfect boyfriend” for these women, Ramsland added.
“The woman knows where he is at all times, and while she can now claim that someone loves her, she does not have to endure the day-to-day issues of most relationships,” she said. “She can keep the fantasy charged up for a long time, without having to cook, clean or report in to someone.”
A somewhat simplified and outdated bit at the end there, one feels, but it’s certainly a pretty trouble-free ride.
If murderers are your thing.
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