Vampires are real. They’re usually not the cape-wearing, “mwah-hah-hah-ing” types, but rather people with ordinary jobs who just happen to consume blood or energy because they think they need it. But even though these people sometimes need help from therapists or social workers, they are reluctant to reveal their identities as real vampires, according to a new paper in Critical Social Work.
Of course, that fear seems understandable, given the history of how mistrusted individuals have been accused of vampirism and the rare, sensational account of modern vampires.
But real vampires aren’t what many think. D.J. Williams of Idaho State University has studied them for years. “They are successful, ordinary people,” he told Laura Zuckerman, writing for Reuters. Many self-identified vampires find each other online. Williams teamed up with Emily E. Prior, of College of the Canyons, to write the new paper.
They explain that while some people who identify as vampires do participate in role-playing games or enjoy wearing specific clothing (think black and cloak-like), others are vampires simply in their belief that they need to feed off the energy or blood of others. Most of the time, consensual donors provide the blood if needed. The researchers write:
Real vampires report that without occasional feeding, their overall health and well-being suffer. Hence, the term vampirism is used to describe the feeding process. Real vampires may or may not find interest in mythical vampires or pop culture vampirism; these seem to be irrelevant to their self-identified vampirism.
The team’s work shows that while this group spans the gamut of religious views, races and ethnicities, sexual and gender identities, age and occupation, many report feeling marginalized. These vampires also reported feelings of fear about disclosing their identity as vampires.
The researchers write:
People with real vampire identities, at least those within this sample, are fearful that clinicians will label them as being psychopathological in some way (i.e., delusional, immature, unstable), perhaps wicked, and not competent to perform in typical social roles, such as parenting.
Williams and Prior end with a call for clinicians and mental health professionals to listen and learn from real vampires, just as they should for all alternative identities. In the case of individuals who seem to function in society normally — as the people in their survey do — effective service includes building trust and listening.
“The real vampire community seems to be a conscientious and ethical one,” Williams says, according to Reuters. “Most vampires believe they were born that way; they don’t choose this.”