Clinical Vampirism: When You Think You're a Vampire

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In 1979, Richard Trenton Chase committed a spree of sordid murders in Sacramento, California. In each of the six murders, he drank his victims' blood and cannibalized their remains. For these atrocities, he garnered a sinister nickname: "The Vampire of Sacramento." True to that moniker, he repeatedly asked for fresh blood in prison to drink for sustenance, right up until the moment he killed himself.

Clinical Vampirism, or "Renfield's Syndrome," is not exactly a malady you see everyday. I'd wager that most people are slightly more concerned with keeping blood confined to their own bodies rather than trying to imbibe the life force of another.

But for a select few folks, an undercooked steak doesn't satiate their cravings for the red stuff. Only real blood will do. So who are these loony few who fancy themselves vampires, and why do they do what they do?

shutterstock_115128718.jpgUnlike the fictional vampires of European folklore, clinical vampires are found all across the globe. Information is scant on account of the condition's rarity, but it's believed that subjects are primarily male, and often schizophrenic. Since schizophrenics frequently lack the capability to think symbolically, Dr. Philip Jaffé, a psychologist at the University of Geneva, surmises that "the ingestion of blood and/or body parts may be a way for the schizophrenic to literally replenish themselves."

Clinical vampirism starts early, often beginning with a pivotal event in which the subject takes a liking to the taste of blood or finds bleeding to be enjoyable. The syndrome is then thought to progress in three distinct phases.

Autovampirism, where the subject sips blood from his or her own wounds, typically develops first. As this stage progresses, the subject will start to self-inflict wounds or learn how to open major arteries. One 28-year-old man afflicted with Renfield's was so "skilled" that he able to direct blood spurts from his carotid artery straight into his mouth.

Zoophagia, or the consumption of living creatures, follows next. Insects, cats, dogs, and birds are common victims for the developing clinical vampire.

Vampirism, actually drinking the blood of another, is the final step. In order to sate their carnal yearnings, Renfield's sufferers may steal blood from hospitals, or worse, actually resort to violence against their fellow man.

Obviously, those suffering from clinical vampirism need to seek mental assistance straight away. Unfortunately, garlic supplements likely won't be of any help, nor will sunlight or holy water.

(Image: Vampire via Shutterstock)

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