Prison Brides: ‘Hybristophilia’ And Women Who Fall In Love With REALLY Bad Boys

The day he entered San Quentin for murdering his wife and son, Scott Peterson received three dozen phone calls from female admirers and a marriage proposal from an 18-year-old girl. The question is—WHY? ‘Hybristophilia’ is a recognized mental condition where someone—most always a woman—gets intense sexual arousal from a man who’s committed notorious crimes.

What is hybristophilia?

Most modern women would agree that they want a man who’s sensitive, empathetic, generous, selfless, and gentle.

So why is it that every time a man gains infamy for unimaginably brutal crimes of rape, murder, and torture, women are knocking down his prison cell trying to put a ring on his finger? What in the name of frickety-frack is the deal with women who not only send letters to notorious killers, they fall in love with them and sometimes marry them? The more heinous the crime, the more likely an inmate is to receive fan mail from women. “Our high notoriety inmates get the most interest,” said Lt. Sam Robinson, spokesman at San Quentin Prison “I have tried to figure this out, but I don’t have an answer.”

“Hybristophilia” is a recognized psychiatric condition in which a person—usually a woman—experiences strong sexual desire for a man known for crimes that society considers repulsive. The “-philia” comes from a Greek word meaning “love for,” while “hybristo-“ is derived from Greek verb meaning “to commit an outrage against someone.” It is also known as “Bonnie & Clyde Syndrome.”

The condition can manifest in passive or aggressive forms. Passivehybristophiliacs avoid crime and usually cultivate a safe relationship while their lover boy is tucked away behind bars. They tend to delude themselves into thinking that their Death Row fiancé is entirely innocent, and even if they don’t, they’re certain he’d never harm them. Their attraction is more of the nurturing type in that they feel empathy for the lonely and wrongly accused little boy trapped behind bars.

Aggressive hybristophiliacs are fully aware that they get wetter than a floor mop at the idea of a violent, murderous thug. They often are complicit in their lovers’ crimes and will even help them hide bodies or destroy evidence.

Hybristophilia is recognized as a potentially lethal disorder. The book Dream Lovers: Women Who Marry Men Behind Bars details the sad case of two Australian women named Avril and Rose who abandoned their long-term marriages because they were “boring” and fell in love with two convicts—a thief and a man who’d killed his previous wife. A week after being released, Avril’s lover (the thief) beat her to death with a hammer. And Rose’s boyfriend—about whom she boldly proclaimed “I have no fear”—was sent back to the pokey after trying to cut off her ear and yank out her teeth with pliers.

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