I always thought that vampires were fictitious characters that you either read in books or saw on television. After reading an article written by Oppawsky (2010) I am not so sure that vampires exist only in books or seen in a movie. The article I read was on Clinical Vampirism, also known as Renfield’s Syndrome. Renfield’s syndrome is named after Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The character in the book, R. M Renfield, consumed flies, spiders and birds because he thought that by eating the creatures will give him a life force or power. Similarly, people suffering from this syndrome also believe that by consuming blood will give them power.
The person who first coined the term Renfield’s Syndrome was Richard Noll in 1992. Because it is so rare, we barely hear about this condition. Clinical Vampirism is an obsession with drinking blood and sufferers are usually male. According to Hemphill and Zabow (1983), Clinical Vampirism is not considered a symptom of an Axis I diagnosis or Axis II of the DSM and is rarely seen in clinical practice. People exhibiting this behavior are classified as schizophrenic or paraphiliac (where the person becomes sexually aroused by atypical objects or situations). It manifests after the person has a childhood experience in which the taste and sight of blood is associated with pleasure and excitement. It starts with an event in which the person likes to taste blood or finds bleeding enjoyable. During puberty, the attraction to blood become sexualized.
The syndrome progresses to three stages:
1) Autovampirism: This happens before puberty when the child is excited in a sexual event that involves blood injury or ingestion of blood. It becomes fused with sexual fantasies. A person likes their own blood. They will self-inflict wounds or learn to open major arteries in order to consume their blood..
2) Zoophagia: A person eats living creatures such as insects, cats, dogs and birds. They may also go to a butcher and obtain animal blood.
3) Vampirism: When a person drinks the blood of another. They may steal blood from hospitals or resort to violence, assault or murder. According to Noll (1992), people who drink the blood of others believe that it gives them a sense of power or immortality.
A person has the delusional notion that they are a vampire and needs blood. It is an erotic attraction to blood and develops through fantasies that involve sexual excitement. It has a fetishistic and compulsive component. Treatment is usually not sought out unless the symptoms become problematic for the person and are willing to address their problem. If treatment is sought, treatment options include: psychoanalysis, hypnosis, behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, medication management.