Criminal Minds Wiki

Symphorophilia is a special form of "sacrificial" paraphilia (or perversion) involving sexual attraction to staging and watching a disaster.


Symphorophiliacs are so sexually aroused by watching disasters that they may go out of their way to arrange it themselves. In one example, they can intentionally crash their own vehicles. This act may result in their death and/or that of a partner, but the possibility of suicide and/or murder is not what triggers the sexual arousal; it is the act of risking their life, akin to a daredevil who performs a dangerous stunt. In another example, they can set a catastrophic fire and watch the carnage unfold; this is generally characteristic of more sadomasochistic symphorophiliacs. It is unknown if the latter instance can be synonymous to someone such as a pyromaniac.

On Criminal Minds

  • Travis James ("There's No Place Like Home") was sexually excited by the act of getting close to a tornado, something he incorporated into his M.O. of killing street boys. Unlike a classic symphorophiliac, he was fixated on a disaster that was virtually impossible to stage, though he did stage his victims' deaths to appear like tornado casualties.
  • Izzy Rogers and Matthew Downs ("Hit" and "Run") were sexually excited by the act of initiating hostage situations at high-profile targets and ending them through the use of explosives while they escaped.
  • David Cunningham ("Rabid") was profiled as a possible symphorophiliac by the BAU. Though no sexual motive seemed evident from his crimes, and an individual rabies infection was not synonymous with a disaster, Cunningham would always induce a rabies infection in his victims and watch the results, akin to a traditional symphorophiliac.
  • Jonathan Rhodes ("Collision Course") was sexually excited by the act of staging deadly car accidents. In a very unique scenario, he hacked into vehicles from his home and used them as remote-controlled weapons against pedestrians, instead of driving the vehicles himself. He would also hack into the vehicles' dash cams and the drivers' handheld devices, so he could watch the drivers' reactions and the collisions from the car's point of view. In the end, Rhodes reverted back to the classic definition of a symphorophiliac, taking control of a car with him and a partner inside so he could crash it and possibly kill them both (though the partner was an unwilling hostage).

Real World

Though there has been no known criminal or other high-profile cases involving symphorophilia, the paraphilia was put into the spotlight by the 1973 novel Crash and its 1996 film adaptation.

External Links