No one was harmed in in the alleged cannibalism plot by New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, let alone eaten, the Associated Press reports. A defense attorney says the officer was merely engaging in harmless Internet fantasy. Where the line is drawn between bizarre talk and a true plot may be the key question in a case that the AP says has shocked even the most jaded New Yorkers.
Experts say many people have a compulsion to create horrific scenarios about cannibalism, and that the Internet allows them to indulge in their dark side anonymously and usually safely. “There is a big difference between discussing, and even fantasizing about this type of activity and actually carrying it out,” said Jeffrey Parsons, a psychologist at Hunter College. “Not all the people who fantasize about it will go on to carry it out.” The online banter attributed to Valle is not characteristic of a sexual disorder, but more indicative of some type of psychotic behavior or a personality disorder, Parsons said.