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Vampirism in Early Psychiatric Literature


By Luke Dalfiume, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Co-Owner of John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates

During my earlier career as a professor, I taught Abnormal Psychology. For one class period each semester, I would give a lecture about some fringe areas of psychopathology not covered in the current diagnostic criteria: those who consider themselves to be vampires or werewolves and the demon-possessed. The material for my lecture was taken from the fascinating accumulation of research found in the book Vampires, Werewolves & Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature by Richard Noll.

Noll cites some early 20th century reports of those who, during romantic encounters, produced a “love bite,” which created bleeding. For some, the taste of blood during the romantic encounter produced intense sexual excitement. From this point forward, blood became associated with sexual excitement. Other patients would not become excited by the blood of another person but rather by ingesting their own blood. One patient would store his own blood in jars and become very aroused when ingesting it. This form of vampirism, according to the cases noted, was engaged in as a form of stress relief and for sexual arousal.

These patients, over time, began to cope less and less effectively with life stressors and, eventually, were hospitalized with symptoms of psychosis and diagnoses of schizophrenia. It seems that those with these symptoms were probably not very capable of coping with life effectively to begin with. As they transitioned into adulthood or life otherwise became more complicated, their limited coping strategies proved to be inadequate for their current situations. The author of the aforementioned book speculates that those suffering from these symptoms have “a compelling need to be provided for and to be nourished.”

As I write this, I am reminded of the significant number of patients I have worked with who cut. When I am working with a distressed patient, I regularly inquire about whether or not they cut. However, I have never inquired about whether or not they ingest their own or anyone else’s blood. In light of the (admittedly rare) cases noted above, it may be of value to inquire in greater detail about this. While cutters do not appear to have vampiric tendencies, they do, universally, describe a sense of relief when cutting. However, cutting by clients I have seen does not seem to have a sexual arousal component.

For more information, contact John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates, located at 3716 W. Brighton Ave. in Peoria or at their locations in Normal, Canton, Pekin, Princeton, or Eureka. Call us at 309-692-7755, or visit us online at