In light of the recent cannibalistic attacks, at least one expert says that cannibalism can be addictive. Dr. Karen Hylen compares the act of cannibalism to achieving a high using drugs or any other addictive action.
"People who have engaged in this act report feelings of euphoria or get a 'high' by performing the action to completion…just as a cocaine addict becomes addicted to the process of cutting up lines before they ingest the drug itself," Hylen told the Huffington Post.
In the past two weeks, the world has learned of an attack on a homeless man in Florida by Rudy Eugene, believed to be high on the drug known as "bath salts." The attacker was shot dead before he would stop eating his victim's face.
And in a separate incident another man, Luka Magnotta is charged with killing, dismembering and eating parts of his victim.
These attacks led to the CDC issuing a statement saying that zombie attacks were not real. But that hasn't stopped the hype surrounding the rare, brutal crimes.
"Only the sickest of individuals would entertain such a notion [of cannibalism], let alone act on it," Hylen said. "It takes a complete lack of empathy and ability to experience normal human emotions to reach this state. Generally, less than 1 percent of the population is classified as [a psychopath], although more may possess the tendencies associated with psychopathic disorder."
That means that when the public hears of cannibalistic attacks, there tends to be a morbid fascination. How can this possibly happen, and what would lead someone to commit such a heinous act?
Individuals, Hylen explains, "have psychopathic tendencies and are generally not psychotic. They know exactly what they are doing."
One of the most famous cases of cannibalism is that of Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered and dismembered 17 men and young boys before eating their bodies. He reportedly thought he could turn his victims into zombies by using hydrochloric acid injected into the brain.
It is unknown exactly why Dahmer committed such acts, but Hylen has stated that during attacks, "the pleasure center of the brain becomes activated and large amounts of dopamine are released-similar to what happens when someone ingest a drug like cocaine."
"To date, there is no effective cure or treatment for these individuals," Hylen noted. "As no amount of medication or psychotherapy can instill empathy in someone."