Belmont Club

Hanging Together

Some headlines just grab you.

US student ‘ate roommate’s brain and heart’ — Telegraph.

Canada cannibal says he believed victim was an alien — Telegraph. “A Chinese immigrant who beheaded and cannibalised a Canadian bus passenger in front of horrified travelers four years ago spoke out for the first time Tuesday, saying he believed his victim was an alien.”


Cannibal on run after warning The Sun: I can’t stop killing — The UK Sun. “We showed cops sick film of a live KITTEN fed to a snake and an email warning: “Once you kill and taste blood it’s impossible to stop.” Luka Magnotta, 29, fled after his male partner – a missing Chinese student – was chopped up and eaten in Canada.

And you thought the problem was going to be the Zombie Apocalypse. One way to think about these accounts is as instances of severe mental illness.

Woman kills husband, tries to cook body parts — AFP. “The police arrested Zainab Bibi, 32, and her nephew Zaheer, 22, in the Shah Faisal colony of Pakistan’s southern megacity Karachi, and recovered the bowl of flesh she planned to cook, said police chief for the area Nadeem Baig.”

“They killed Ahmed Abbas, Zainab’s husband, and chopped his body into pieces and were about to cook the flesh in a bowl,” he told AFP, adding that the knife with which they killed the man had been recovered.

Television networks showed gruesome footage of the human flesh in a bowl ready for the stove.

Or maybe times are just hard. But mental illness is a more likely cause than poverty for these lurid headlines like this: “Russian cannibal ate gay date” — Global Post.

A 21-year-old Russian cannibal brutally stabbed his gay date to death and then made him into meatballs and uploaded footage of him cooking onto the internet.


The two are probably related in some way. Reuters reports that mental illness is up in Greece. “Job loss can lead to an accumulation of risks that can tip people into depression and severe mental illness which can be difficult to reverse – especially if people are not getting appropriate care”. A person diagnosed with bipolar disorder writes: “Is there an alternative to being mentally ill?”

I wish there were; I’d probably have an easier time making friends. Living with bipolar disorder allows for only two courses of action, really: acknowledgment and denial. Knowing the risks associated with the latter (such as lapses into self-destructive behavior, which had gotten so bad with me that my parents and friends all but dragged me by the hair to a psychiatrist’s office), I’ll take acknowledgment, thank you, even if it’s not always easy. It means accepting that I sometimes need to hold still for a few hours lest I do anything rash. It means checking in with a shrink at least once a year to make sure I’m getting treated appropriately. (Since I don’t have health insurance, this is a lot harder to do now that Mayor Emanuel closed half of Chicago’s public mental health clinics, but that’s another story.) And it means admitting my vulnerability to family and friends, who do want to help me, I learned, when I feel I can’t get through life on my own.


The observation above may sound funny to a healthy person but it probably isn’t for the guy with the problem. For him it is all deadly serious, in a way that an unafflicted person can scarcely imagine.

Not all strange behavior is crazy, at least not in the clinical sense. Sometimes cannibalism is just a point of view. “Cannibal tribe apologises for eating Methodists” — Telegraph.

Their leaders apologised for their forefather’s taste for human flesh to Fiji’s high commissioner to Papua New Guinea.

“We at this juncture are deeply touched and wish you the greatest joy of forgiveness as we finally end this record disagreement,” said Ratu Isoa Tikoca, the high commissioner.

Not even the courts are above deciding on such weighty matters as whether cannibalism is a crime if the victim begs to be eaten.  The public in Germany was rived by accounts of a man who “advertised on the internet for a ‘young well-built man, who wanted to be eaten. And you guessed it: somebody answered. The two love-birds sat happily together at their gruesome feast, which proceeded by stages, before the cannibal ” finished off his victim by stabbing him in the neck with a large kitchen knife, kissing him first.”

The unprecedented case has proved problematic for German lawyers who discovered that cannibalism is not illegal in Germany. Instead, they have charged Meiwes with murder for the purposes of sexual pleasure and with “disturbing the peace of the dead”.


Before leaving the subject, here’s one more headline for the road.

“Breast enlargement patients ‘should face mental health checks before they are allowed to undergo their procedures'” — Daily Mail. Look at this way: it could be worse. They could have decided to be cannibals.

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