A Hybristophile is a person (mostly women) who is attracted to men who commit extreme/or outrages crimes on other, such as rape and murder. Often then, the focus of attention is therefore someone who has been imprisoned and obviously, received a lot of celebrity status*.
What normally happens is that the passive hybristophile (I am not addressing the aggressive hybristophile here, e.g. where the female is actively involved in the crime, sometimes even the instigator) may contact a prisoner based on what they have read or seen in the media. Once they get a response, off they’re running with an imaginary love affair.
These “jail romances” – as often the hybristophili would actually get engaged and even marry the prisoner – are the result of an active search for a partner within that particular community. What I mean with “active search” and “particular community” refers to some of the possible reasons why these women might be attracted to an accused or prisoner of outrages crimes in the first place.
Some women view it as the ultimate expression of masculinity to have committed these outrages. (The adolescent bad-boy attraction taken to its ultimate). Which it isn’t of course, it basically adulates the most horrific aspects of gender-stereotyping.
From an evolutionary perspective, it might even make some type of unconscious biological sense to some to want to bear the children of such a man; as their children might have better chance of survival (indicating a very primitive level of functioning).
*It has also been speculated whether attaching themselves to such men, could be a way for these women to achieve higher social status. A lot of it has to do with these perpetrators having celebrity status which gives to some women, a “rosy glow” whether it might be kidnapping, assault, rape of murder).
After the first meeting, should the prisoner/accused have responded to their letters, these women are always surprised at his ordinariness, his seeming humanity, his respectful communication (and charm, in the case of psychopaths). Some like dogs, others have cats, some have normal hobbies whether cooking of gardening (no-one ever claimed criminals not to have human qualities as well) and some even have special talents.
The woman is a-washed with relief and now all types of out-of-this-world qualities can be ascribed to him, including excuses for what he has done. (Passive hybristophiliacs tend to put themselves in positions to be seduced, manipulated, and lied to by the object of their fantasy).
These feelings are then easily mistaken for love (which by the way, contains serious sexual attraction). And this love is never contradicted by reality... Since you don’t live together and rarely meet, it’s a perfect relationship for someone with idealised fantasies. The ultimate, reality-proof romance.
The hybristophili is usually delusional and develop these relationships, feeling and believing that she is special. Only she, uniquely, can understand his pain. Even though her lover may have killed numerous people, he would never harm her... Even in the most damning of evidence, she will manage to think up mitigating circumstances. Others believe that they can “change” their lover and even have rescue fantasies. While underneath, some may find the blood lust enormously erotic.
So, while research indicates that some hybristophiliacs are often insecure, have low self-esteem, have often been victims of physical and sexual abuse, it is also indicated that some simply “want to sublimate their violent tendencies by collaborating with a perpetrator of violence” (Vitello, 2006). It may even be a way to commit vicarious murder or crime. (Vicarious: as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another, or to experience through another).
And while it might seem a rather innocent relationship (though not necessarily understandable) to the public eye, one has to wonder whether this is really such a positive relationship for the perpetrator himself. What he gets from such a relationship is reinforcement of his [own] justifications for his crimes, and it often supports the delusion that his victims were complicit.
Further reading and references:
Linedecker, C.L. (1993). Prison Groupies. New York: Windsor Pub Corp.
Lovearthistory (undated). The psychology of hybristophilia. Located at: http://lovearthistory.hubpages.com/hub/psyhparaphilia
Isenberg, S. (2000). Women Who Love Men Who Kill. Backprint.com
Money, J. (1986). Lovemaps: Clinical concepts of sexual/erotic health and pathology, paraphilia, and gender transposition in childhood, adolescence, and maturity. New York: Irvington.
Vitello, C. (2006). Hybristophilia: The love of criminals. In Hickey, E.W. (Ed.). Sex Crimes and Paraphilia. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.