Necrophilia (ne-kruh-FILL-ee-uh) is an extremely rare sexual variation in which a person obtains sexual gratification by viewing or having intercourse with a corpse. This paraphilia appears to occur exclusively among males, who may be driven to remove freshly buried bodies from cemeteries or to seek employment in morgues or funeral homes (Tollison & Adams, 1979). However, the vast majority of people who work in these settings do not have tendencies toward necrophilia.
There are a few cases on record of men with necrophilic preferences who kill someone to gain access to a corpse (Milner & Dopke, 1997). The notorious Jeffrey Dahmer, the Milwaukee man who murdered and mutilated his young male victims, is believed by some experts in criminal pathology to have been motivated by uncontrollable necrophilic urges. More commonly, the difficulties associated with gaining access to dead bodies lead some men with necrophilic preferences to limit their deviant behavior to contact with simulated corpses. Some prostitutes cater to this desire by powdering themselves to mimic the pallor of death, dressing in a shroud, and lying very still during intercourse. Any movement on their part may inhibit their customers’ sexual arousal.
Men who engage in necrophilia almost always manifest severe emotional disorders (Goldman, 1992). They may see themselves as sexually and socially inept and may both hate and fear women. Consequently, the only "safe" woman may be one whose lifelessness epitomizes a nonthreatening, totally subjugated sexual partner (Rosman & Resnick, 1989; Stoller, 1977).