Could Schizophrenia be the Answer to the
Mysterious Vampire Legend?
The vampire legend and many behaviors and experiences of schizophrenics seem to share many common traits. The traits that are most recognizable are "fears of being enclosed, periods of semistarvation or complete starvation, which can be associated with periodic gorging, reversal of the day-night cycle, and a preoccupation with or dread of mirrors" (Kayton 304). Though the term 'schizophrenia' or 'demence precoce' was only introduced in 1852 (Boyle 43), behaviors of people affected by this illness have been documented much earlier.
The concept of a dead person returning in his living physical form and feeding on the living is considered a vampire. The vampire is believed to also be capable of transmitting his vampirism to those he infect or bite. Kayton recognizes that though this belief has been found in early writings of the Babylonians, Semites, and Egyptians, the most famous vampire scare swept Europe in 1730. This vampire epidemic lasted approximately five years (305).
The legend consistency continues with adolescent and young adult schizophrenia. It is presented to us that young suicide victims were most likely believed to become vampires and attack members of their families (Kayton 304-05). Suicide was not an uncommon event among schizophrenic patients (Boyle 255). Suicide patients are a very important part of this equation because according to the legend in England suicides were buried with a stake pierced in or near the heart. This was to ensure that that the ghost of the person would not come back and haunt the living, to prevent the suicide victim from becoming a vampire (Kayton 305). In Dracula, Lucy was killed after she had already started to haunt the living. She was killed after with a stake driven through her heart as a "duty to others" and to the dead, so that she may truly be "passed away", as "God's true dead" (266, 277-279).
Some documented cases of vampirism indicate that sometimes the psychodynamics' of vampires can erupt into materialized behavioral psychopathology (Kayton 304). For example, Vincenz Verzeni an Italian in 1872, a Frenchman named Leger in 1827, and a German Fritz Haarman demonstrate to the rare appearance of clinical vampirism (Kayton 306). Haarman himself killed approximately 24 adolescent males. This is interesting since many believe that vampires only attack those of the opposite sex. Even Bram Stoker's Dracula disproves this belief when the Count (Dracula) informs the three vampire women that Jonathan belongs to him (55).
Psychoanalyst, Karl Abraham, had an advanced early psychoanalytic theory, which examined the beginning of these characteristics. He claimed that early libidinal (sexual desire/ sex drive) stages had a lot to do with later character development. He divided the oral phase into sucking and biting stages. He goes on to discuss that the nursing infant is first a passive recipient of the nutrients that is placed in his mouth. The infant then learns that his teeth are a tool he can use for revenge when they become frustrated (Kayton 309).
Later, Melanie Klein, Abraham's analyst, moved away from oral libido as the main focus in early infant development and focused more on the early mother-child interactions. She stated that it was through these early interactions that the child developed internal psychological structure by the internalization of introject. With this child analysis, she developed her concepts of the paranoid-schizoid position and the depressive position in early infant development (309).
Another psychoanalyst, W.R.D. Fairbairn, took intensive case material of schizoid-schizophrenic persons, and theorized that intense oral sadistic libidinal need form in response to actual maternal deprivation. He states that eventually the child splits off part of his ego (Kayton 309), not to be mistaken with multiple personalities (McMahon 203). This...
Cited: Boyle, Mary. SCHIZOPHRENIA A scientific delusion? London: Routledge, 1990.
Kayton, Lawrence. The Relationship of the Vampire Legend to Schizophrenia.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 1, No. 4. New York: Plenum, 1972, 303-313.
McMahon, Frank B. Abnormal Behavior. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 198-237, 255.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Maurice Hindle. New York: Penguin Books, 1993.
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