by Sophia, High Priest III
Vampires appeared in stories or customs which spread across Europe from 1725 to 1732. Its etymology is unclear. The Slavic linguist Francisco Miklošič said that vampires are the most Turkic wizards (ubyr) (Etymonline). Words translated into different languages become “insert bites.” The first use of this word in Old Russian dates back to about the 11th to 13th centuries, and it is a spread of the pagan worship of vampires (5th century to 15th century AD). Etymology was later promoted as a global consensus term. Inevitably, both spiritually and culturally, vampires have coexisted with humans for thousands of years. At the same time, this legend and I have some unexpected intersections. These encounters brought me a very important lesson, that is, the supernature is an unverified science, and science is a relatively proven supernatural.
For thousands of years, vampires, despite their horror, have always been attractive. First, the most direct answer is that vampires are different from other traditional and classical “monsters.” Vampires are most like humans. Just like other kinds of human beings, they have the appearance of human beings and have the same life as human beings. However, Vampires have all the abilities that humans desire to have but do not. Secondly, the source of vampires is Europeans (or Europeans and Americans), and these legends strengthen the racist hierarchy, especially empowering white subjects. Finally, Vampires also satisfied the eugenics, superpowers, power, immortality (nor old age), romance, rebellion, and more freedom of life in human nature. The descriptions from legends, books, or movies have added a variety of contemporary bloody violence and fantasy aesthetics, cultural expectations followed by the times. To the extent that the Vampire has been passed down from generation to generation, it has been able to change to satisfy contemporary popular traits.
In 370 BC, Hippocrates had related records. Until 1871, the German biochemist Felix Hoppe-Seyler also discussed the pathophysiology of the disease. Since 1892, the Austrian forensic psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing has written this matter in the psychiatric literature. Many medical publications about clinical vampires can also be found in the writing of forensic psychiatry (Bergh, 1964) (Hemphill, 1983). Psychology professor Katherine Ramsland and clinical psychologist Richard Noll in his 1992 book, coined the term of the same name, and he invented the medical condition and the diagnostic criteria which claimed to ironically imitate the “new DSM-speak” of psychiatry in the 1980s. Richard Noll named the disease “Vampire” in 1992. But a 2011 paper in the Journal of the History of Neuroscience characterized Renfield’s syndrome as an obsessive drinking disorder. It mainly exists in men and is closely related to sexual desire and bloody smell. Noll diagnosed Renfield’s disease based on the patient’s early childhood experience, in which bleeding or tasting blood has some connection with excitement. After puberty, these feelings are related to sexual arousal. He said that Renfield’s development has gone through three typical stages, starting with childhood vampire disease (Maria, 2012).
Another medical research route, a blood disease called Porphyria, has prevailed among the nobility and the royal family in Eastern Europe for thousands of years. Porphyria is a genetic disease that has become more common in inbreeding. This disease seems to be related to the origin of the vampire myth. It is sometimes called “Vampire disease.” People with Porphyria are sensitive to sunlight, and direct sunlight may cause blisters. Porphyria causes poor oxygenation leading to the destruction of facial tissues and the collapse of facial structures. In addition to facial deformities, it also causes gums to recede, which makes the person with Porphyria appears to have large fangs. The sulfur content of garlic may cause people with Porphyria to experience severe pain, and therefore dislike garlic. Hundreds of vampires have burned to death during religious trials, some of whom were porphyrias, and consequently hated Christ (Hefferonm,2017).
Now medicine has a basic understanding of Renfield’s syndrome and Porphyria that belongs to the psychiatric department. Although it cannot wholly cure, it can already achieve some curative effects to control the disease. It seems that the millennium myth about vampires can be explained through medicine and psychiatry. Because of medical and psychiatry explanation set my prejudgments, I never imagined that such a legend would have a few encounters with me. This contact from vampires can be experienced by others, but many people have not recognized it.
I once had a student from Asia, M, an 18-year-old female orphan, who had dropped out of high school in her early teens for unspecified reasons. She was socially isolated, living in her grandmother’s attic. Upon retrospectively analyzing her behavior, I realized she was not popular with her classmates. Although the reason remained unclear, her social rejection was severe enough to prompt her eventual dropout. During a particularly humid summer, I returned to Asia for a class. During an evening meal with students, I received a call from M, who wished to meet me. I agreed, and after dinner, I excused myself from the students waiting for my evening class.
I met her alone at the building’s entrance. In the dim light, she seemed frail and emitted a peculiar, potent odor. As our conversation commenced, I felt a drain on my energy, particularly in my lower abdomen. Suspecting her to be an energy vampire, I allowed her to drain my energy for about five minutes before excusing myself. Upon returning upstairs, I immediately utilized a GDV (Gas Discharge Visualization), a Kirlian device, for testing, revealing that 4/5 of my energy had been depleted. I was barely able to complete the test before succumbing to exhaustion, sleeping for over seven hours. Upon awakening, I meticulously chronicled M’s situation and began searching for any possible signs of others like her. After several months, M was finally relocated to a more suitable environment. This encounter wasn’t solely my experience; it was shared with my entire class of students.
The incident underscored my belief that science serves to substantiate spirituality, while spirituality is unverified science. There exists a fluid relationship between these two realms, functioning as two ends of a spectrum. The concept of the vampire straddles both the spiritual and scientific realms, its interpretation contingent on one’s position on the spectrum and their perspective of the other end.
History can be biased and embellished, and legends allow even more room for interpretation. After dedicating two years to studying vampires, I found that each generation tends to rewrite the narrative to fit its context. For instance, contemporary vampires can mingle with ordinary humans and have evolved to shed the weaknesses depicted in ancient legends. The vampire embodies different cultural definitions across eras and communities, with robust cultural foundations reinforcing these definitions. Regardless of these definitions, the true face of the vampire may encompass myriad facets, each so elaborately portrayed that it becomes challenging to discern the truth. Nevertheless, the vampire legend, deeply entwined with human history, will continue to accompany humans into the future.
1. Cara Santa Maria, “Renfield’s Syndrome: A Mysterious Case Of Real-Life Vampirism.” Science. 08/15/2012.Etymonline. https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=Vampire.
2. Hemphill, R.E.; Zabow, T. (1983). “Clinical vampirism: A presentation of 3 cases and a reevaluation of Haigh, the “Acid-Bath Murderer.” South African Medical Journal. 63: 278–281.
3. Michael Hefferon, “Of Plagues and Vampires: Believable Myths and Unbelievable Facts. ”Woodpecker Lane Press, July 27, 2017.
4. Reevaluation of Haigh, the “Acid-Bath Murderer.” South African Medical Journal. 63: 278–281.s”. Archives of General Psychiatry. 11: 543–547.