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Vampires: The Darker Side of Life in Pop Culture

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Vampires: The Darker Side of Life in Pop Culture

Vampires do not just appear around Halloween, but they can be found all year long on television, books, blogs, and movies. They are one of the oldest and most popular mythological creatures that have been created, and they continue to frighten and fascinate people all around the world. They are immortal beings that appear human, but they can transform into blood sucking creatures that have prolonged life and super strength. Vampires have been mystical and enticing figures in pop culture for a very long time.

The evolution of vampires started a long time ago and they still continue to evolve to this day. There are many different kinds of vampires that have been created in pop culture. Many writers and directors have added their own twist on what a vampire should look like and how they should act, but the one thing they all have in common is their lust for blood. Nick Lane stated in his article, “New Light on Medicine,” that it has been speculated by researchers that the vampire tales were inspired by the patients who suffered from the rare blood disease (1). It has been said by some that the origin of the vampire legends could have come from medical and psychological syndromes.

It has been suggested that porphyria is an explanation for how the vampire legends started. According to Anne L. CHRISTIANSEN’s essay, “Cutaneous Porphyrias: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and the Danish Incidence 1989–2013” Porphyria is a disease that is “caused by reduced activity of an enzyme involved in haem biosynthesis (868). Porphyria is when the high levels of porphyrins cause issues in the body and cause horrific symptoms. Porphyria cannot be cured. The symptoms from porphyria have lots of the same characteristics that vampires have. When patients with this disease are exposed to sunlight their skin begins to blister and burn. This symptom could be the reason on why vampires cannot go out in the sun. The disease can also cause the patients gums to go red and they begin to grow fanglike teeth. Nick Lane stated in his article, “New Light on Medicine,” that back then the historians believed that the patients thought that drinking blood would help cure the disease (2). Their urine turns a reddish-purple color from drinking the blood. When people saw this, they began to get the wrong idea of why they were drinking blood. This disease is not the only one that is said to be linked to vampirism.

Renfield’s syndrome, also known as clinical vampirism, is a disease that is named after Dracula’s assistant. The syndrome causes people to have a craving for blood. The source of this syndrome remains unknown. The syndrome was named in 1992 by Richard Noll, who was a psychologist. Patients who have Renfield’s syndrome have an obsession with drinking blood. Jolene Oppawasky stated in her article, “VAMPIRISM Clinical Vampirism-Renfield’s Syndrome,” that “the patients believe that drinking blood gives them a sense of power and control” (3). The disease causes patients to believe that drinking blood is a necessity. If they do not have blood, they begin to feel depressed and lethargic. There are different stages of Renfield’s syndrome. The first stage of the disease is called “Autovampirism” and it usually starts in childhood. The sign of this is when the child initially tries to scrape or cut themselves to see blood. The child will be obsessed with doing this. The second phase is called “Zoophagia.” This stage is when they begin to eat living creatures and drink the creature’s blood. They will find enjoyment in killing creatures. “Vampirism” is the last phase and this is when they start wanting human blood. In Regis Olry’s and Duane E Haines’s essay, “Renfield’s Syndrome: A Psychiatric Illness Drawn from Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula,” they stated that “criminology has applied the metaphor of vampires to some serial killers, on the basis of their alleged dealing with animal or human blood” (370). In the essay, they explain that Bram Stoker’s character, Dracula, had this syndrome. They believe that Dracula had this syndrome.

Vlad lived during the 15th century and was raised in the central region of modern day Romania, that is now known as Transylvania. Vlad grew up as the only child. Both of his parents were very cold and did not show a lot of affection towards him. Alexander Nemser said in his article, “Vlad the Impaler” that Vlad III was known for novels and also “his authority on Russian cultural and aesthetic matters (41). He was a prince who was thirsty for blood and who was known for all the enemies that he brutally punished. According to Jolene Oppawasky’s essay, “VAMPIRISM Clinical Vampirism-Renfield’s Syndrome,” Vlad III remembers that his father would drink a shot of fresh blood once or twice a week after he slaughtered an animal (61). Vlad was exposed to blood and drinking blood at a very young age. Drinking blood when he was older gave him the sense of empowerment.

Different cultures, people, and traditions all have different beliefs on how vampires got started. This is the reason why there are so many different kinds of vampires. Annie Shepard stated in her article, “The Evolution of the Vampire in Fiction and Popular Culture,” that the “Legends of such creatures have been reported for various cultures almost worldwide, including China, India, Malaya, the Philippines, Arabia, Turkey, Africa, and Europe” (1). Numerous cultures across the globe have their own view of what a vampire is. Some of the first vampire stories were told in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

The Lamia is a creature that was created back in Ancient Greece. According to “,” “the Greek legend says that Lamia was once a gorgeous Libyan princess.” Princess fell in love with Zeus and they had many children. Zeus’s wife, Hera, figured out about this and killed all of Lamia’s children and turned Lamia into this creature. The top half of her has female characteristics, but the bottom half looks like a snake. The creature feeds off of humans, but most of the time they are babies that she stole. When children died the Greeks would say that is was Lamia’s fault. The myth of this creature got mixed with other legends. This made it so there are many different kinds of blood sucking creatures who are female.

Another old vampire myth in the world is called the Ekimmu, or also known as the Edimmu. This creature arrived back in 4000 B.C.E. The Assyrians and Babylonians were terrified of this creature. The myth was that the Ekimmu was a spirit of a dead person that could not find peace because they were not buried correctly According to, “the Ekimmu was the first blood-sucking vampire and the first psychic vampire.” The Ekimmu would suck out people’s



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