Human Living Vampire by †Watcher†
Human Living Vampire's (HLV's) are individuals who, though they know they are still human, and their appearances look the part, have vampiric characteristics. Human Living Vampires feel they have a need, compulsion, or involuntary tendency to "feed" on a substance or some kind of energy produced by other living beings, primarily people. There are two main classes of HLV's:
Those who experience blood lust
Blood-craving, and "psychic vampires" or "psi-vampires"
There is some debate, however, as to whether the two do or do not share "secondary symptoms" (such as sensitivity to sunlight).
Blood-craving HLV's tend to regard their need for blood as a liability, even extremely severe. Psychic vampire HLV's usually have a more positive attitude toward their perceived energy-draining ability, but do complain about the negative effects these tendencies have on their lives, especially when uncontrolled. Within the two categories are several subdivisions between HLV's. There are also a number of different "theories" proposed by HLV's to explain their origin or the cause(s) of their conditions.
No HLV claims to be immortal, invincible, or possessed of supernatural abilities (other than the extent to which psychic abilities such as clairvoyance or astral projection might be called "supernatural"). Some do report enhanced strength, stamina, resistance to disease, but in no case do these traits dominate the limits of humans. Human Living Vampires are born, grow up, age and fully expect to die at the end of a conventional lifespan. They are prone to any illness or injury that can affect humans. They are able to have children; they have normal nutritional requirements (although some HLV's report unusual food cravings, allergies or aversions) and in all other ways are bound by natural law. Most insist that being an HLV has no glamour or special privileges, but simply makes the everyday existence of relationships, jobs, and home life more challenging.
HLV's are strongly tied into human culture and society, although many of them will feel alienated. Sometimes, this may have as much to do with other factors (high intelligence, sexual orientation, non-mainstream religious beliefs, affinity with other counter-cultures such as the Goths, and so on) as with the self-defined vampirism. Many HLV's cling to bits and pieces of the Vampire Myth, at the same time that they urgently attempt to debunk this Myth in their writings. "Viral" explanations for their origins are quite popular, along with "scientific" rationales in general. However, for the most part, HLV's are far less concerned with explaining themselves than they are with coping to the specific needs and abilities that they identify as impacting upon their lives. This, their primary focus, and the motivation for their forming networks and support groups and "coming out" in public as HLV's. All explanatory "theories" are considered tentative, even relative to the individual, and many explicit statements are made by various HLV's.
The term "blood vampires" refers to those self-defined HLV's whose main vampiric tendency is a compulsion, or need, to consume blood for reasons that are not mainly related to eroticism or emotional satisfaction. We call these HLV's "sanguinarians". Blood vampires do not experience any powers of the psychic vampire, and tend to be rather bewildered by the reported experiences of self-defined psychic vampires. Blood vampires feel a physical craving to consume blood, and most do this on a regular basis. Most desire human blood, and many blood vampires have arranged for "donors" to supply them with fresh blood. Some blood vampires describe a life-long fascination with blood and blood drinking, while others experienced an abrupt awakening of blood craving which they may or may not be able to trace to a specific occurrence.
The amount and frequency of blood consumption varies highly among blood vampires, but most take tiny amounts at one time, usually obtained through slight cuts or punctures made by lancets or razor blades on willing human "donors". These "donors" will sometimes undertake the making of all cuts or wounds themselves. Many blood vampires insist that "donors" undergo testing for blood-borne diseases, including HIV and hepatitis. Some blood vampires consume animal blood, but this is unpopular and considered an inferior substitute for human blood.
Because of the obvious difficulties in finding trustworthy or consistent "donors", or other sources, many blood vampires are concerned of the occurrence of blood deprivation. It is suggested to some blood vampires to "psi-feed" as a substitute for drinking blood, but they find this suggestion incomprehensible. More material substitutes for blood that are reported include "blood" drained from raw meat, rare meat itself, milk and dairy products, and even chocolate.
Blood-drinking HLV's believe strongly that their need to consume human blood is not merely psychosomatic; none have been able to present any workable theory as to just why they require blood. Blood vampires are thus divided into two primary categories according to the intensity of their need for regular blood consumption.
Severe "bloodlusting" blood vampires
Moderate "blood-craving" blood vampires
Severe or "bloodlusting" blood vampires experience the most critical and physical blood cravings. They report a need for larger amounts of blood than most blood vampires or psi-blood feeders consume at one time, and require it more often. They also report the strongest feelings of physical "withdrawal" when prevented from consuming blood, sometimes so extreme as to resemble narcotics withdrawal. Some severe blood vampires believe that blood consumption may in itself be addictive, with higher amounts consumed resulting in an irreversible higher degree of need.
Some severe blood vampires talk about the strength of their inner compulsion to obtain blood by any means possible, and the difficulty of keeping such antisocial impulses in check. "The Beast" is a term has been used to describe the threat of a severe blood vampire suffering from blood deprivation, or when he or she has a source and that source is threatened. Blood vampires agree that it requires their constant vigilance to keep "The Beast" under control.
Moderate, or "blood-craving", blood vampires are satisfied with smaller amounts of blood from "donors" and do not experience the same intensity of withdrawal or the inner compulsion of a severe blood vampire. They can be satisfied for more lengthy time periods with various substitutes, and their need for blood may be more intertwined with complex emotional and sexual feelings. They are not merely blood fetishists; they do report a physical need to drink blood.
Psychic Vampires or Psi-vampires
This is a multi-layered and somewhat conflicting category. Human living psychic vampires are living people who feel a pronounced need to enhance their natural state of being by drawing, absorbing, "draining" or "feeding on" some kind of "energy". Most psychic vampires claim that the kind of energy they require is life force, "pranic energy", that is to say; a specific type of energy produced by living things and the biosphere as a whole. While this is the most common "energy" craved by psychic vampires, other types of "energy" include sexual energy, psychic energy, emotional energy, magickal energy, negative energy, astral energy, and atmospheric energy, and some others as well. These "energies" are given conflicting and overlapping definitions, and the explanations of what "energy" is and how the psychic vampire uses it tend to vary from one individual to another. Most psychic vampires feed from other human beings, but many reports say they are able to feed from non-human living things and from other sources. In some cases, this is an emergency substitute, but some psychic vampires attempt to "wean themselves" away from human sources altogether. Some psychic vampires hold that it is more "evolved" or advanced to progress beyond feeding on humans.
Some psychic vampires report the ability to absorb "energy" from material sources, including fresh vegetables, rare meat and blood. Many psychic vampires have an interest in blood drinking, but do not seem to crave or lust for it as blood vampires do. A question remains concerning whether psychic vampires who have an interest in blood, but who do not actually drink it, may not be reacting to the power of suggestion, and feel interested in blood because they identify themselves as vampires and associate vampires with blood.
Like blood vampires, psychic vampires feel that they must obtain the energy they require regularly, and many report physical feelings of discomfort if they are denied access to a source. Symptoms of "energy deprivation" include extreme fatigue, depression, mood swings, immune system suppression with an increase in illnesses, uncontrollable "draining" of non-targeted sources, and negative reactions from others close to the psychic vampire, insomnia and anxiety. Psychic vampires often discuss methods of finding energy sources and feeding reliably and harmlessly, though they methods vary to a high degree. Some feed during sex, on large crowds, draw energy from the natural world and visit parks or wilderness when hungry, and those who feed by finding people in highly energized states and either calming or further provoking them.
Unlike blood vampirism, psychic vampirism may be diagnosed either subjectively by the vampire or objectively by observers. Symptoms of a psychic vampire include mood swings, dizziness, alternations between high energy and fatigue, headaches, a distinct feeling that one is pulling or drawing energy or emotions from other people and similar feelings. More and more people are being "diagnosed" as psychic vampires by other self-defined psychic vampires, on the grounds of numerous criteria. These include observed effects of the suspected psychic vampire on others (fatigue or depression in the presence of the psychic vampire, a sensation of phantom "tendrils" or attachments, a sensation that something is being pulled or drawn out of the body or aura) and direct psychic perception of the aura or energy field of the suspected psychic vampire.
Psychic vampires are developing a completely independent subculture of their own; they have their own acknowledged leaders and vocabulary. They are also developing a collective agreement about what being psychic vampire feels like, both to themselves and the others around them, especially psychically sensitive others. Some psychic vampires identify what they call an "energy signature". This allows them to identify other psychic vampire's around them, as well their specific type and how they function. These signatures can be read and interpreted during contact, such as the telephone. Training methods adopted from modern magical traditions, standard psychic development disciplines, meditative paths and other sources are being introduced to help psychic vampires learn to control their feeding and manipulate energy. Psychic vampires proper fall into two main categories:
Conscious psychic vampires
Unconscious psychic vampires
Conscious psychic vampires are fully aware of what they are and have been identified as psychic vampires on some level. While they may not be able to completely control their "draining" tendencies, and seek methods of learning doing so more effectively. When they have achieved at least some feeling of mastery, they sometimes offer to teach and support other nascent psychic vampires by sharing what they have learned. They tend to have strong and volatile personalities.
Unconscious psychic vampires do not understand what they are, and tend to wander through life in a state of blissful ignorance or denial. Though they can see the results, Unconscious psychic vampires may not always be aware of the effect they have on others. They may also be "diagnosed" by conscious psychic vampires, urged to face what they are and learn to control their tendencies. Unconscious psychic vampires tend to be most noticeable to ordinary people; they are seen as clingy, attention-seeking, demanding, inconstant individuals. These assessments are sometimes not supported by actual behavior, but are a materialist's rationalizations of the psychic perception of the vampire's energy draining. Unconscious psychic vampires tend to have rocky and difficult relationships, home lives and personal interactions until they come to some kind of understanding of what they are.
During the past year, several vampire writers observed that the vast majority of self-defined human living vampires report both psychic vampire tendencies and somewhat of an interest in drinking blood. For some, psychic vampire energy feeding is a possible substitute for blood drinking; for others, the situation is reversed. There appears to be a continuum running through the middle area between "pure" psychic vampires (psychic vampires with no craving to drink blood, although they may have some interest in it or even be blood fetishists) and "pure" blood vampires (blood vampires with no psychic vampire tendencies that are perceptible to themselves or others, although they may have psychic ability). HLV's in this category do experience some degree of both blood craving and definite psychic vampire tendencies. Whether these abilities alternate or remain in balance with each other varies with the individual.
Issues faced by these psi-blood feeders are similar to those faced by blood-drinking and psychic vampires. Symptoms of blood and energy deprivation are essentially the same as those of moderate, blood-craving blood vampires and those of psychic vampires. Psi-blood vampires share similar concerns related to finding donors or energy sources and benefit from training programs designed to control the abilities of the psychic vampire.
Other Vampiric People
Among the evolving Vampiric community, there is considerable controversy over the inclusion of certain types of people who are deeply interested in vampires and vampire concerns, yet do not report the same degree or type of cravings that HLV's do, either for blood or energy. Some have looked for "real vampires" and been hurt or discouraged by the attitudes generally expressed, or by their reception when they introduced themselves; names like "wannabees" are applied to them. Nevertheless, these individuals often are seeking someplace where they belong and feel that they can be "themselves". Some have urged that they not be arbitrarily excluded. Some true HLV's also fall into some of the categories below. The categories can be hazy and overlap considerably, but there is no rule that says an HLV might not also be interested in lifestyle vamping or be a blood fetishist. Some of these individuals may be HLV's who have not yet accepted their true nature. The adoption of terms such as "vampiric people" and "the vampiric community" have been urged to avoid excluding those who sincerely think they are a Human Living Vampire.
This is a category defined more by modern psychology rather than popular consensus. A blood fetishist is a person who derives intense erotic/sexual satisfaction from the taste, sight, or feel of human blood. In psychological terms, this person requires obsession to gain any sexual release; in practice, blood fetishists may be more flexible. Some blood fetishists practice bloodletting as an expression of trust, intimacy and bonding, apart from specifically erotic aspects. Blood fetishists are often found in the BDSM subculture, where their specific activities may be referred to as "blood play" or "blood sports". These generally involve BDSM scenes that include bloodletting with razor blades or other implements (and sometimes by very imaginative methods). The amount of blood involved is almost always very small, and cuts seldom penetrate the dermis of the skin. Safe bloodletting techniques are highly emphasized. Blood fetishists may not be true HLV's or even be interested in actually drinking or tasting blood. While referred to as "vampires" in psychological literature, they tend not to describe themselves with this word.
Nonpersonal Energy Hungerers
Nonpersonal energy hungerers are humans who have a need to draw energy from the environment or more esoteric sources such as "god". The term refers to the fact that these individuals do not require energy from human beings, as psychic vampires do, but can drain it from other living and non-living sources. Both nonpersonal energy hungerers and psychic vampires may shift back and forth between drawing from people and drawing from "nonpersonal" sources. The principal distinguishing feature of nonpersonal energy hungerers and psychic vampires is that psychic vampires require energy from human sources, while nonpersonal energy hungerers require energy from nonpersonal sources. For each, the alternative source is an optional and inferior substitute. Although it seems a fine distinction, it seems to be a critical one for those who experience this condition. Some nonpersonal energy hungerers have called themselves psychic vampires or otherwise identified with the psychic vampire community, but tend to feel uncomfortable there, and sometimes felt they were rejected or did not truly belong. They sought a defining identity that corresponded with their actual needs without insisting that "all psychic vampires" shared their characteristics.
Nonpersonal energy hungerers experience many of the same symptoms of energy deprivation as psychic vampires; they have a hard time identifying and learning to tap the appropriate energy source. They unconsciously control tendencies to "vampirize" when in a deprived state. They benefit from the same training techniques as psychic vampires. Their challenge is to discover which source(s) of nonpersonal energy will provide them with their requirements, and then locate and provide connections to those sources.
Vampyre Lifestylers (Sometimes "Vampyres" instead of "Vampires")
Individuals who dress in vampire-like costumes, decorate their homes in dark Victorian (funeral parlor) gloom, have prosthetic fangs and colored contact lenses, and sometimes copy the Twentieth Century Vampire Myth, are sometimes called Vampyre Lifestylers. This term, borrowed from "lifestyler Goth", denotes people who are so serious about being Goth that they dress and act the part all the time, as well as for clubbing or concerts. Many Vampyre Lifestylers are also Goth. However, Vampyre Lifestylers take their vampiric presentation very seriously. They tend to regard vampirism as a state of mind, or a way of existence, rather than a specific tendency to "vampirize" others by feeding on them. For Vampyre Lifestylers, the image of a vampire can be a metaphor for qualities they wish to manifest through emulation (classic imitative magic). These qualities, based on the Twentieth Century Vampire Myth, include unearthly beauty, detachment, a long view of history and the future (if not immortality), an elegance of personal style, loyalty to a "clan" or "tribe" of "special" others like oneself, an acceptance if not a full embrace of death as a fact of life, individuality against social pressure to conform, etc. Vampyre Lifestylers rarely advocate predation upon others, although they may speak disparagingly of humans or mortals when they are socializing in full bloom. As a general rule, unless a Lifestyler is also an HLV or a blood fetishist, that person only dabbles in blood drinking (or blood-tasting) for the minor thrill and the additional authenticity it lends to the vampire image. Some Vampyre Lifestylers form cooperative group households or "families" in order to live the out ideal of the "vampire clan" or extended family of sires and fledglings that is found in fiction.
Some HLV's become full Lifestylers as a way of expressing their inner nature. The well-known personality Catrina Coffin might be one example. Catrina's home full of macabre gimcracks, the coffin she sleeps in and the hearse she drives have been featured on several television documentaries, but she is evidently a true blood-craving HLV as well.
A psychotic vampire is a person who has a sociopathic mental illness that leads him (almost all are male) to behave like a vampire, and sometimes to actually self-identify as one. This identification is with folkloric or fictional vampires such as Dracula or Anne Rice's characters. More usually, psychotic vampires are simply obsessed with blood and will commit brutal crimes without remorse in order to see, taste, and feel it. They may also take on some of the trappings of Vampyre Lifestylers by wearing capes, sleeping in coffins, fill their homes with skulls, bones and souvenirs stolen from cemeteries, but they should not be confused with true Lifestylers.
Several notorious criminals in history are considered by scholars and psychologists to have been psychotic vampires, including Fritz Haarman, Gilles de Rais, the Marquis de Sade, John Haigh, and Elizabeth Bathory. These individuals appear in non-fiction books about vampires.
Some attention has been given to a condition named "Renfield's Syndrome" in psychological literature, based on the fly-eating character Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Renfield's Syndrome is described as having four stages: a trauma or "critical incident" in childhood where the patient discovers the taste and sight of blood to be "exciting" or attractive; "autovampirism", the drinking of one's own blood; "zoophagia", the consumption of blood from animals; finally "true vampirism", in which the patient must have human blood, and may resort to stealing blood from medical facilities, or serial murder. It should be obvious what kinds of complications could arise for HLV’s is being evaluated by psychologists, given this definition.
The difficult question is whether some psychotic vampires could actually be true HLV's suffering from mental illness; they could. This presents more critical reasons why HLV's need to be better understood, especially to themselves.