Richard vonn Krafft Ebing 1840-1902 accepted a post as Professor of Psychiatry and Nervous
Diseases at the University of Vienna in 1889 after serving as a police doctor in Vienna for many years. He carried out a ground breaking study of human sexuality and perversions in a time when scientific information on the subject was nowhere to be found and discussion of such things unthinkable in polite society. Many of his classifications of strange sexual impulses are still in wide use today.
Psychopathia Sexualis brought about a total reevaluation of European and American thinking about sex.
The first edition appeared in 1886 in German with the parts deemed too risque discreetly veiled in Latin. There were 12 editions with additional material added over time. The twelfth and final edition appeared in 1902; it is the source used for the case studies shown here.
Case 19: Leger, vine-dresser, aged 24
From youth moody, silent, shy of people. He started out in search
of a situation. Wandering about eight days in the forest he there
caught a girl of 12 years old, violated her, mutilated her genitals,
tore out her heart, ate of it, drank the blood,
and buried the remains. Arrested, at first he lied, but finally
confessed his crime with cynical cold-bloodedness. He listened
to his sentence of death with indifference, and was executed.
At the post-mortem examination Esquirol found morbid adhesions
between the cerebral membranes and the brain.
Case 21: Vincenz Verzeni, born in 1849
Since January 11, 1872, in prison; was accused (1) of an attempt
to strangle his nurse Marianne, four years ago, while she lay
sick in bed; (2) of a similar attempt on a married woman Arsuffi,
aged 27; (3) of an attempt to strangle a married woman, Gala,
by grasping her throat while kneeling on her abdomen; (4) on suspicion
of the following murders:
In December a 14 year old girl, Johanna Motta, set out for a neighboring
village between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning. As she did not return,
her master set out to find her, and discovered her body near the
village, lying by a path in the fields. The corpse was frightfully
mutilated with numerous wounds. The intestines and genitals had
been torn from the open body, and were found nearby. The nakedness
of the body and erosions on the thighs made it seem probably that
there had been an attempt at rape; the mouth filled with earth,
pointed to suffocation. In the neighborhood of the body, under
a pile of straw, were found a portion of flesh torn from the right
calf, and pieces of clothing. The perpetrator of the deed remained
On 28th August 1871, a married woman, Frigeni, aged
28, set out into the fields early in the morning. As she did not
return by 8:00, her husband started out to fetch her. Her found
her a corpse, lying naked in the field, with the mark of a thing
around her neck, with which she had been strangled, and with numerous
wounds. The abdomen had been ripped open, and the intestines were
On August 29th, at noon, as Maria Previtali, aged 19,
went through a field, she was followed by her cousin, Verzeni.
He dragged her into a field of grain, threw her to the ground
and began to choke her. As he let go of her for a moment to ascertain
whether any one was near, the girl got up and, by her supplicating
entreaty, induced Verzeni to let her go, after he had pressed
her hands together for some time.
Verzeni was brought before a court. He was then 22 years old.
Cranium of more than average size, but asymmetrical. Bull-necked;
penis greatly developed, fraenum wanting; slight divergent alternating
strabismus (insufficiency of the internal rectal muscle, and myopia,
Lombroso concluded from these signs of degeneration, that there
was a congenital arrest of development of the right frontal bone.
As seemed probable, Verzeni had a bad ancestry - two uncles were
cretins; a third, microcephalic, beardless, one testicle wanting,
the other atrophic. The father showed traces of pellagrous degeneration,
and had as attack of hypochondra pellagrosa. A cousin suffered
from cerebral hyperaemia, another was a confirmed thief.
Verzeni's family was bigoted and low-minded. He himself had ordinary
intelligence; knew how to defend himself well; sought to prove
an alibi and cast suspicion on others. There was nothing in his
past that pointed to mental disease, but his character was peculiar.
He was silent and inclined to be solitary. In prison, he was cynical.
He masturbated, and made every effort to gain sight of women.
Verzeni finally confessed his deeds and their motive. The commission
of them gave him an indescribably pleasant (lustful) feeling,
which was accompanied by erection and ejaculation. As soon as
he grasped his victim by the neck, sexual sensations were experienced.
It was entirely the same to him, with reference to these sensations,
whether the woman was old, young, ugly, or beautiful. Usually,
simply choking them had satisfied him, and he then had allowed
his victims to live; in the two cases mentions, the sexual satisfaction
was delayed, and he continued to choke them until they died. The
gratification experienced in this garroting was greater than in
masturbation. The abrasions of the skin on Monta's thighs
were produced by his teeth, whist sucking her blood in most intense
lustful pleasure. He had torn out a piece of flesh from
her calf and taken it with him to consume at home; but on the
way he hid it under the straw-stack for fear his mother might
suspect him. He also carried pieces of clothing and intestines
some distance because it gave him pleasure to tough and smell
them. The strength which he possessed in these moments of intense
lustful pleasure was enormous. He had never been a fool; while
committing his deeds he saw nothing around him (apparently as
a result of intense sexual excitement, annihilation of perception
- instinctive action). After such acts he was always very happy,
enjoying a feeling a great satisfaction. He had never had pangs
of conscience. It had never occurred to him to touch the genitals
of the martyred women, or to violate his victims. It had
satisfied him to throttle them and such their blood. These statements
of this modern vampire seemed to rest on truth. Normal
sexual impulses seemed to have remained foreign to him. Two sweethearts
that he had, he was satisfied to look at; it was very strange
to him that he had no inclination to strangle them or press their
hands, but he had not the same pleasure with them as he had with
this victims. There was no trace of moral sense, remorse and the
Verzeni said himself that it would be a good thing if he were
to be kept in prison, because with freedom he could not resist
his impulses. Verzeni was sentenced to imprisonment for life.
The confessions which Verzeni made after his sentence are interesting:
"I had an unspeakable delight in strangling women, experiencing
during the act erections and real sexual pleasure. It was even
a pleasure only to smell female clothing. The feeling of pleasure
while strangling them was much greater than that which I experienced
while masturbating. I took great delight in drinking young
Motta's blood. It also gave me the greatest pleasure to
pull the hairpins out of the hair of my victims.
"I took the clothing and intestines, because of the pleasure
it gave me to smell and touch them. At last my mother came to
suspect me, because she notice spots of semen on my shirt after
each murder or attempt at one. I am not crazy, but in the moment
of strangling my victims I saw nothing else. After the commission
of the deeds I was satisfied and felt well. It never occurred
to me to touch or look at the genitals of such things. It
satisfied me to seize the women by the neck and suck their blood.
To this very day I am ignorant of how a woman is formed. During
the strangling and after it, I pressed myself on the entire body
without thinking of one part more than another."
Verzeni arrived at his perverse acts quite independently, after
having noticed, when he was 12 years old, that he experienced
a peculiar feeling of pleasure while wringing the necks of chickens.
After this he had often killed great numbers of them and then
said that a weasel had been in the hen coop.
Case 25: Mister X., aged 25
Father syphilitic, died of paretic dementia, mother hysterical
and neurasthenic. He was a weak individual, constitutionally neuropathic,
and presented several anatomical signs of degeneration.
When a child, hypochondria and imperative conceptions; later,
constant alternation of exaltation and depression. While yet a
child of ten the patient felt a peculiar lustful desire to see
blood flow from his fingers. Thereafter he often cut or pricked
himself in the fingers, and took great delight in it. Very early,
erections were added to this, and also if he saw the blood of
others; for example, when he once saw the servant girl cut her
finger it gave him an intense lustful feeling. From this time
his sex life became more and more powerful. Without any teaching
he began to masturbate, and always during the act there were memory
pictures of bleeding women. It now no longer sufficed him to see
his own blood flow; he longed to see the flood of young females,
especially those that were attractive to him. He could scarcely
overcome the impulse to violate two cousins and a certain servant.
Any young woman, although not attractive, induced this impulse
when she excited him by some peculiarity of dress or adornment,
especially coral jewelry. At first he succeeded in overcoming
these desires; but in his imagination thoughts of blood were ever
present, inducing lustful excitement. An inner relation existed
between thoughts and feelings. Other there were other cruel fancies.
He imagined himself in the role of a tyrant who had the people
shot in crowds with grape-shot. He would imagine a scene as it
would be, if enemies were to take a city and mutilate, torture,
kill and rape the young women.
When in his normal state this patient, who had a mild disposition
and was not morally defective, was ashamed of and horrified by
such cruel, lustful fancies, which became at once latent, when
his sexual excitement was satisfied by masturbation.
After a few years the patient became neurasthenic. Then simple
imaginary representations of blood and scenes of blood sufficed
to induce ejaculation. In order to free himself from his vice
and his cruel imagination, he began to indulge in sexual intercourse
with females. Coitus was possible, but only when the patient called
up the idea that the girl's fingers were bleeding. Without the
assistance of this idea no erection was possible. The cruel thoughts
of cutting was limited to the woman's hand. At the time of greatest
sexual excitement, simply the site of the hands of an attractive
woman was sufficient to induce violent erections. Frightened by
the popular stories about the injurious results of onanism (masturbation),
he abstained and fell into a condition of severe general neurasthenia,
with hypocondical dysthymia. Careful and watchful medical treatment
cured the patient after a few months. He became mentally well
for three years; but became again very sensual, though very seldom
he was troubled by his earlier ideas of flowing blood. He gave
up masturbation all together, and found satisfaction in natural
sexual indulgence, remained virile, and it was no longer necessary
for him to call up ideas of blood.
Case 31: J.H. aged 26
Came in for consultation concerning sever neurasthenia and hypochondria.
Patient confessed that he had practiced onanism since his 14th
year, infrequently up to his 18th year, but since that
time he had been unable to resist the impulse. Up to that time
he had no opportunity to approach females, for he had been anxiously
cared for and never left alone on account of being an invalid.
He had had no real desire for this unknown pleasure, but he accidentally
learned what it was when one of his mothers' maids cut her hand
severely on a pane of glass, which she had broker while washing
windows. While helping to stop the bleeding he could not keep
from sucking up the blood that flowed from the wound, and
in this act he experienced extreme erotic excitement, with complete
orgasm and ejaculation.
From that time on, he sought, in every possible way to see, and
where practicable, to taste the fresh blood of females.
That of young girls was preferable by him. He spared no pains
or expense to obtain this pleasure. At first he availed himself
of a young servant, who allowed her finger to be pricked with
a needle or lancet at his request. When his mother discovered
this, she discharged the girl. Then he was driven to prostitutes
as a substitute, with success frequently enough, though with some
difficulty. In the intervals he practiced onanism, and masturbation
by women, which, however, never afforded him complete satisfaction,
but, on the contrary, caused listlessness and self reproach. On
account of his nervous difficulties he visited many sanatoria
and was twice a voluntary patient in institutions. He used hydrotherapy,
electricity, and strengthening cures, without particular success.
For a time it was possible, by means of cold sitz-baths, monobromate,
and camphor, and bromides to diminish his sexual excitability
and onanistic impulse. However, when the patient felt himself
free again, he would immediately fall into his old passion, and
spare no pains or money to satisfy his sexual desire and the abnormal