Anthropophagy – The Feeding on Humans!
Anthropophagy refers to the act of eating human flesh and drinking the said human’s blood. It can cover cannibalism where one human sets upon eating another’s flesh and it can also include self cannibalism where one tries to feed on themselves i.e. eat their own flesh. It can also cover necro-canibalism where people eat the flesh of one that is already dead as opposed to finding them alive, killing them and then eating them.
Today we look at anthropophagy as far as it concerns the eating of another previously living human being, much like the way we eat other forms of meat. In 1981 Paris, Isse Saggawa, a Japanese student killed and ate fellow student Renee Hartevelt. The French court declared him mentally unfit to stand trial and he spent a year in a mental institution. Upon release, he was deported back to his home land where he was sent to prison but his father managed to secure a release for him and he walks free to this day.
While there is no way of knowing the circumstances for certain, it has been claimed that various ancient societies across the globe involved in cannibalistic tendencies, especially towards outsiders. Those captured were killed, cooked and eaten much like you would any other animal that we consider okay to eat. It has been documented that the societies in the tropical South America, tropical Africa, and ancient great Empires of Europe and Asia involved in these cannibalistic practices. Some historians however disagree as to the extent of the vice and how acceptable it was in the said societies.
In the recent past, it has been known that incidences of cannibalism have resulted as a way to stave off death through starvation. The various cases reported were ones of extreme cases in case of wrecks or escape, where members resorted to eating each other for survival and in some cases members actually had to kill others. In colonial Jamestown, there are reports of some citizens killing and eating members of their own families during the severe famine. Alexander Pearce confessed to killing and eating members of his escape party, the 1930s famine of Ukraine saw many forms of cannibalism take place, and during World War II there are reports of cannibalism in various camps including the Nazi and Japanese camps. This poses the all so important question, if faced with the same situation would you kill and eat one of your own party?
In some cultures, it is said that eating human flesh will give one super human powers and a higher spirituality while others are in the search of immortality. In 1924, Albert Fish was declared mentally insane as he ate his victims though he insisted that he was just queer and nor clinically mad. The chijon family was of Korean origin and they killed and ate rich people, so maybe it was a protest of some sort. And for some, such as the tribes of tropical Africa, it is ingrained in their nature and culture and does not require justification.
It is believed that eating human flesh could result into a brain illness known as kuru which is common among the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea which is known for its cannibalistic tendencies. And so the practice of anthropophagy begets more cannibalism which makes it difficult to determine whether the person was disturbed before deciding to start feeding on fellow human beings or they became so after the feeding.