Due to a recent string of extremely strange (dare I say: zombie attacks) in the news lately, many readers find themselves scratching their heads wondering, “Hey… what’s with all the cannibalism lately?” Well, you’re not alone. Enter Dr. Karen Hylen, the primary therapist at Summit Malibu Treatment Center in California, who explores the psychological motives behind the recent string of grisly face-eating crimes.
Dr. Hylen recently sat down with The Huffington Post to hash out the psychological foundations for the act of cannibalism. According to Dr. Hylen, while many have engaged in cannibalism throughout history for various religious or cultural reasons, modern “practice” of the brutal act is rooted in mental illness, even addiction.
“People who have engaged in this act report feelings of euphoria or get a ‘high’ by performing the action to completion,” she told HuffPo. “These individuals have psychopathic tendencies and are generally not psychotic. They know exactly what they are doing.”
It starts as a fantasy, then after getting a ‘taste’, “the pleasure center of the brain becomes activated and large amounts of dopamine are released –- similar to what happens when someone ingests a drug like cocaine.” Once that’s happened, the brain wants that feeling again, and thus begins the cycle of addiction.
The good news is, one’s chances of becoming addicted to tasty man-flesh are incredibly low. “It takes a complete lack of empathy and ability to experience normal human emotions to reach this state,” Hylen said. “Generally, less than 1 percent of the population is classified as [a psychopath], although more may possess the tendencies associated with psychopathic disorder.”
But still, being a psycho does not a cannibal make: “Only the sickest of individuals would entertain such a notion, let alone act on it,” she said. “Just because you or your therapist believes you have psychopathic tendencies does not mean that cannibalism is in the realm of possibility for you. If you are this type of person, you most likely already know it to be true and don’t need an outside source to tell you.”
Since it’s so rare, treatment is pretty much off the table. “To date, there is no effective cure or treatment for these individuals, as no amount of medication or psychotherapy can instill empathy in someone,” she said.
Though incredibly powerful and recklessly made drugs called “bath salts” have allegedly played a role in the recent string of cannibalistic crimes, the psychological may still play a factor. High off your ass is one explanation for the events, but simply crazy works for me too.