Necrophilia, also called thanatophilia or necrolagnia, is the sexual attraction to corpses. It is classified as a paraphilia by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. The word is derived from the Greek words: ( nekros; "dead") and ( philia; "love").
Singular accounts of necrophilia in history are sporadic, though written records suggest the practice was present within Ancient Egypt. Herodotus writes in The Histories that, to discourage intercourse with a corpse, ancient Egyptians left deceased beautiful women to decay for "three or four days" before giving them to the embalmers.
In some societies the practice was enacted owing to a belief that the soul of an unmarried woman would not find peace; among theKachin of Myanmar, versions of a marriage ceremony were held to lay a dead virgin to rest, which would involve intercourse with the corpse.
In a modern example, Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer who suffered from necrophilia. In order to be aroused, he had to kill his victims before having sex with them. Dahmer stated that he only killed his victims because they wanted to leave after having sex, and would be angry with him for drugging them. He fit the criteria of the desire "to possess an unresisting and unrejecting partner" according to Rosman and Resnick's study listed below. Mass murderer Dennis Nilsen is considered to have been a necrophiliac.
In animals, necrophilia is since 1960 commonly referred to as Davian behaviour allegedly named so by Dickerman after a lewdlimerick: