Jimmy Savile – do the latest revelations change the diagnosis?
Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen
New disturbing allegations have surfaced following the latest investigation into Jimmy Savile’s crimes; this time the NHS has come under particular scrutiny, and there are now allegations that the former celebrity DJ may have interfered with dead bodies.
Anil Aggrawal, a Professor of Forensic Medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, published in 2009 an academic review entitled ‘A new classiﬁcation of necrophilia’ in the ‘Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine’.
Professor Anil Aggrawal writes of the past, when bodies were transported across the sea for long journeys or extended periods, because someone had died abroad and had to be returned home for the funeral, that sailors on board such ships were subject to accusations of necrophilia.
Professor Aggrawal describes the combination of loneliness, access and no witnesses, all being crucial factors. Jimmy Savile has been characterised as isolated and targeting the vulnerable who were less able to complain.
Professor Aggrawal also details how it’s the fact the dead cannot resist, reject or refuse – cannot complain or talk back or act as witnesses – may also be factors in why some sexual predators gravitate towards this perversion – and these circumstances are also appear in-keeping with what is emerging about Jimmy Savile’s grossly disordered behaviour.
Another particularly disturbing aspect of this case, in relation to Jimmy Savile, which Professor Aggrawal highlights in his review, is the proposition that in some cases (by no means all) the very choice of profession where contact with the dead is facilitated, such as mortuary attendant or grave digger, reflects a necrophiliac need for unhindered access to dead bodies.
Jimmy Savile stalked the corridors of hospitals, in various capacities, also including volunteer hospital porter (for example), and also appeared unable to form long lasting or normal relationships.
According to the classification system of necrophilia that Professor Aggrawal outlines in his review, such a case might be termed an ‘opportunistic necrophile’, which means a kind of sexual predator who is content to have sex with the living usually, but when the opportunity arises will have intercourse with the dead.
This is in contrast to when a perpetrator can only have sex with dead bodies. In this kind of case, stealing corpses from mortuaries is often resorted to.
Finally at a far end of the spectrum is homicidal necrophilia, where the perverse drive to have sex with the dead is so strong, that it’s taken to the extreme of killing people in order to have intercourse with their bodies.
Many serial killers, Professor Aggrawal points out, appear to be homicidal necrophiliacs. For example Jeffrey Dahmer (1960–1994) seems to fall into this category. He became aroused by just pieces of the bodies of his victims, and he was also similarly affected by dead animals.
But if other forms of this perversion can be understood as part of a spectrum, which includes sexual predators of the type that the Jimmy Savile case represents, then necrophilia can be understood as an inevitable outcome of a number of factors, including access, isolation, the need for victims who are not going to report or complain, and disturbed sexual drives.
If this drive was so relentless, as to even take Savile to the point of interfering with the dead, then how was it such a disturbed individual could be allowed to skulk hospitals, and other care institutions, up and down the country, for so long undetected.
This is particularly apposite in the case of his senior position at Broadmoor Hospital, which would most likely have housed the kind of sexual predator which Jimmy Savile was.
We don’t know if specialists there raised concerns about Savile, but we do know that many doctors and nurses feel not listened to by senior management in the NHS. Also these parts of the NHS are ‘Cinderella’ services, in the sense that they do not receive the kind of funding or attention that other areas of health care attract. Celebrity endorsement is vital in our fame obsessed culture if serious problems such as mental health are to attract much needed attention, yet most celebrities would shun a place like Broadmoor.
Perhaps when sections of our society are neglected, chronically underfunded and so become desperate for any attention at all, they become particularly vulnerable to being targeted and abused by the Machiavellian and exploitative. The organisations are almost behaving like the very vulnerable victims he picked on.
But we all need to take a long hard look at ourselves at what went so wrong in the case of Jimmy Savile, because it was not just endemically poor and neglectful NHS management, which has been exposed yet again by this case, as woefully failing to look after the most vulnerable in our society.
There is more video footage of Jimmy Savie ‘walking the shop floor’ in terms of being physically present in wards and corridors of hospitals, than you might ever amass of chief executives of such institutions. Those who run the NHS remain notorious for hiding in their offices, often as far away from the patients as possible. This is part of the failing that allowed Jimmy Savile and other NHS scandals to happen and to continue to happen.
But it is our celebrity obsession which is also partly to blame – such that no one sought to pose the question of how come someone with no more qualifications than being a DJ could be appointed to the very top of specialist Hospitals.
When will we learn that celebrity is not a certification, nor a qualification?