So-called real vampires do not disclose their practices to medical professionals because of the very human fear of being discriminated against or labeled as mentally ill, a study finds.
The study, published in the most recent issue of the journal Critical Social Work, looks at people who self-identify as ‘real’ vampires– that is, needing others’ blood to gain energy – not members of the subculture, which embraces vampirism as a lifestyle.
The research led by Dr. D.J. Williams, director of social work at Idaho State University, found that although social workers are commonly taught to embrace human diversity, real vampires were distrustful of helping professionals and preferred to “stay in the coffin” for fear of being misunderstood and potentially having to face severe repercussions to their lives.
People with real vampire identities, were reportedly “fearful that clinicians will label them as being psychopathological in some way, perhaps wicked, and not competent to perform in typical social roles, such as parenting,” the research found. As a result, most prefer to keep their identities private.
The hidden population of real vampires
Vampires have captured attention and generated interest like few other topics have. Mythological vampiric figures have been present across diverse cultures for thousands of years, as they seem to occupy a curious space between life and death. Little however is known about real vampires.
Dr. Williams said that it is important for helping professionals, such as social workers, to remember that people with vampire identities have common issues like those with mainstream identities.
“Self-identified vampires work regular jobs and participate in the broader communities in which they live,” Dr. Williams said.
Real vampires are “ordinary human beings”
Participants in the sample seemed to function normally, based on demographic questions concerning their psychiatric histories and in their social and occupational roles. Some even achieved considerable success in their chosen careers.
“Real vampires seem to be ordinary human beings with common, everyday human issues, such as trying to be successful in relationships and careers, managing stress, coping with daily living tasks, and adjustments to transitions, to name a few”.
The difference between lifestyle and real vampires
Researchers urge to consider the tremendous range and diversity of self-identified vampirism in contemporary society, and differentiate between “lifestyle” and “real” vampires.
Lifestyle vampires wear specific clothes, sleep in coffins, or may participate in live action role-playing games such as ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’.
Real vampires and feeding
In contrast to the different kinds of lifestyle vampires, the common feature of real vampirism is their belief in the need to take in “subtle energy” – which they call feeding – from a willing “donor” for their overall health and well being.
Some real vampires called “sanguinarians,” seem to prefer feeding by consuming small amounts of human blood or animal blood, while “hybrid” vampires report feeding from more than one form – psychically or from blood.
Unlike lifestyle vampires, real vampires believe that they do not choose their vampiric condition; they are born with it. Researchers thus argue that real vampirism should be approached as an alternative identity, rather than a subculture or lifestyle.
The real vampires community
A large international demographic survey shows that real vampires reflect an extensive demographic diversity. The number of self-identified real vampires should be in the thousands.
However, such people are often severely ‘othered’ and marginalized, irrespective of education and professional status. They are treated as immature, dangerous psychopaths. Scholars who conducted interviews with real vampires, however, found no signs of psychological instability.
Why is this study relevant?
According to Dr.Williams the study’s findings may be relevant to people who adopt alternative identities in general, no only to real vampires.
“Generally, it seems that rapid advances in technology provide a social environment conducive to the development of unique and unconventional identities. We should not be surprised to see a proliferation of nontraditional identities in the future,” he said.
For more information, watch this documentary on today’s real vampires.