How do you feel about people who are ''in love'' with serial killers? Are those people mentally ill?
No, not really.
It entirely depends on who they are, how old they are and what they are doing about it.
You have teenagers saying they’re ‘in love’ with Harry Styles, and those sort of intense crushes are all part of growing up. While fixating on a serial killer or criminal is intuitively unhealthy, adolescence isn’t exactly the best time in your life when it comes to sensitivity to others experiences or a real understanding of such serious crimes and the impact they have.
Then you have older people who still have this fixation and do things like write to serial killers in prison and believe that they have a strong personal relationship with them. This is known as passive hybristophilia and while it shows that the person may have disconnected the criminal from the crimes or, possibly, they’re fetishizing the crimes, it does not necessarily mean it’s pathological. It’s an unusual attraction and as a result a lot of people assume a mental illness is present, but I think that’s just an attempt to make themselves more comfortable with the idea that people can be attracted to such violent criminals.
Like I’ve said before the physical attraction is actually completely understandable when you consider attribution theory, so I’d be very wary of pathologising the basic attraction people have.
When it does become pathological is whenever it is taken to the extreme with the likes of active hybristophilia, where people commit or engage in crimes with the person because of the attraction. When it has such a profound effect on your behaviour, that you’ve completely disconnected the morality from it and as a result are willing to break the law and harm other people - that’s when it’s an issue.
Sometimes I feel attracted to a serial killer. And that feels wrong. Like it shouldn't be that way. Do you think being attracted to a killer is wrong?