The Science of Vampires: What Causes Vampirism and How to Cure It
Vampires: The Myth, The Legend, The Reality
Vampires are one of the most fascinating and enduring creatures of folklore and fiction. They have captivated the imagination of millions of people around the world for centuries, inspiring countless stories, movies, games, and even lifestyles. But what are vampires exactly? Where did they come from? How do they differ from each other? And are they real or just a product of superstition and fantasy?
In this article, we will explore the history, characteristics, types, and culture of vampires, as well as the scientific and psychological aspects of vampirism. We will also give you some tips on how to protect yourself from these bloodthirsty beings, or how to join them if you are so inclined.
What is a vampire?
A vampire is a mythical creature that subsists by feeding on the vital essence (generally in the form of blood) of the living. In European folklore, vampires are undead creatures that often visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighbourhoods which they inhabited while they were alive. They wore shrouds and were often described as bloated and of ruddy or dark countenance, markedly different from today's gaunt, pale vampire which dates from the early 19th century.
Vampiric entities have been recorded in cultures around the world; the term vampire was popularized in Western Europe after reports of an 18th-century mass hysteria of a pre-existing folk belief in Southeastern and Eastern Europe that in some cases resulted in corpses being staked and people being accused of vampirism. Local variants in Southeastern Europe were also known by different names, such as shtriga in Albania, vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania .
In modern times, the vampire is generally held to be a fictitious entity, although belief in similar vampiric creatures (such as the chupacabra) still persists in some cultures. Early folk belief in vampires has sometimes been ascribed to the ignorance of the body's process of decomposition after death and how people in pre-industrial societies tried to rationalize this, creating the figure of the vampire to explain the mysteries of death.
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The origin of the vampire myth
The origin of the vampire myth is not clear, but some scholars have traced it back to ancient Mesopotamia, where there were stories of demonic beings that drank blood and spread diseases. Other possible sources include the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, who was said to have a thirst for blood; the Greek legends of the Lamia, a woman who became a child-eating monster after being cursed by Hera; and the Roman tales of the Strix, a nocturnal bird that fed on human flesh and blood.
However, the most influential source for the modern concept of vampires was probably Eastern Europe, where various folk beliefs and legends about revenants, or reanimated corpses, were prevalent. These beliefs were influenced by Christian doctrines about resurrection, judgment, and sin, as well as by pagan customs and rituals involving death and burial. Some common features of these beliefs were that certain people who died in unnatural or sinful ways could return from the grave as vampires; that vampires had physical traits such as red eyes, sharp teeth, long nails, and pale skin; that vampires could be killed by methods such as decapitation, burning, or staking; and that vampires could be prevented from rising by placing objects such as garlic, crosses, or holy water on or near their graves.
The characteristics and powers of vampires
There are almost. There are almost as many variations of vampires as there are cultures that have them, but some common characteristics and powers of vampires are:
They are immortal and do not age, unless they are killed by specific means.
They have superhuman strength, speed, agility, and senses.
They can heal from most injuries, except those inflicted by silver, fire, or holy objects.
They can hypnotize, charm, or control the minds of others.
They can transform into bats, wolves, mist, or other forms.
They can create other vampires by biting and draining the blood of a human.
They have a weakness to sunlight, which can burn or destroy them.
They have an aversion to garlic, crosses, holy water, and other religious symbols.
They cannot enter a house without being invited.
They have no reflection in mirrors or shadows.
Of course, not all vampires have all these traits, and some may have additional ones that are unique to their origin or type. For example, some vampires may be able to fly without transforming, while others may be able to walk in daylight with some protection. Some vampires may be able to feed on animals or synthetic blood, while others may require human blood exclusively. Some vampires may be able to reproduce sexually, while others may be sterile. Some vampires may have a soul or a conscience, while others may be evil or soulless. The diversity of vampires is one of the reasons why they are so intriguing and appealing to many people.
The types and subtypes of vampires
As mentioned before, there are many types and subtypes of vampires, depending on their origin, nature, and culture. Some of the most well-known and popular ones are:
SanguinarianA vampire that feeds on blood, either human or animal. They may use their teeth, a blade, or a syringe to draw blood from their victims or donors. They may suffer from physical or psychological symptoms if they do not feed regularly.
PsychicA vampire that feeds on the life force, energy, or emotions of others. They may use their mind, their eyes, or their touch to drain their prey or partners. They may also be able to manipulate or influence others with their psychic abilities.
HybridA vampire that feeds on both blood and energy, either separately or simultaneously. They may have the traits and abilities of both sanguinarian and psychic vampires, or they may have a preference for one over the other.
MoroiA living vampire that is born with a genetic condition that makes them crave blood and have enhanced physical and mental attributes. They are not undead and do not have the typical weaknesses of vampires. They may also have magical powers or affinities.
StrigoiAn undead vampire that is created by a moroi biting and killing a human. They are immortal and have the classic characteristics and powers of vampires. They are evil and soulless and can only be killed by fire or a stake through the heart.
DhampirA half-vampire that is the offspring of a human and a vampire (usually a moroi). They have some of the abilities and weaknesses of vampires, but they are not immortal and do not need to feed on blood. They may also have the ability to sense and hunt other vampires.
Loup-garouA werewolf-vampire hybrid that is the result of a werewolf being bitten by a vampire or vice versa. They have the traits and abilities of both creatures, such as shapeshifting, regeneration, and enhanced senses. They may also have a weakness to silver and wolfsbane.
NosferatuAn ancient and powerful vampire that is the progenitor of all other vampires. They are extremely old and wise, but also monstrous and hideous. They have immense strength and speed, but also a strong aversion to light and beauty. They are very rare and secretive.
How did vampires become popular in fiction and culture?
Vampires have been part of folklore and literature for centuries, but they became especially popular in fiction and culture in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the factors that contributed to this popularity were:
The influence of Bram Stoker's Dracula
Bram Stoker's Dracula, published in 1897, is widely considered to be the most influential and iconic vampire novel of all time. It introduced the world to Count Dracula, a charismatic and sophisticated vampire lord who travels from Transylvania to England in search of new blood and victims. The novel combines elements of Gothic horror, romance, adventure, and mystery, and features a group of brave and loyal heroes who try to stop Dracula's plans. The novel also established many of the tropes and conventions that are still associated with vampires today, such as their ability to turn into bats, their fear of garlic and crosses, their seductive and hypnotic powers, and their vulnerability to stakes and sunlight.
Dracula has inspired countless adaptations, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and parodies in various media, such as films, television shows, comics, games, and musicals. Some of the most famous and popular ones include Nosferatu (1922), Dracula (1931), The Horror of Dracula (1958), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Dracula 2000 (2000), Van Helsing (2004), Twilight (2008-2012), True Blood (2008-2014), The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017), Dracula Untold (2014), and Castlevania (2017-present).
The evolution of the vampire genre
While Dracula set the standard for the vampire genre, it was not the only or the first vampire story in literature. In fact, there were many other works that explored the theme of vampirism before and after Dracula, such as The Vampyre (1819) by John Polidori, Carmilla (1872) by Sheridan Le Fanu, Varney the Vampire (1845-1847) by James Malcolm Rymer, The Phantom of the Opera (1909-1910) by Gaston Leroux, Interview with the Vampire (1976) by Anne Rice, Salem's Lot (1975) by Stephen King, I Am Legend (1954) by Richard Matheson, and Let the Right One In (2004) by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
These works showed that vampires could be portrayed in different ways and genres, such as Gothic, romantic, erotic, psychological, science fiction, fantasy, comedy, or even post-apocalyptic. They also introduced new concepts and variations to the vampire mythos, such as the idea of a vampire society or hierarchy, the possibility of a vampire-human hybrid or romance, the role of religion or morality in vampirism, the origin and evolution of vampires, the existence of other supernatural creatures or enemies besides vampires, and the potential cure or redemption for vampirism.
The modern representation of vampires in media
In recent years, vampires have become more popular and mainstream than ever before. They have appeared in various forms and media platforms, such as books, movies, TV shows, podcasts, web series, video games, In recent years, vampires have become more popular and mainstream than ever before. They have appeared in various forms and media platforms, such as books, movies, TV shows, podcasts, web series, video games, music, art, and fashion. They have also attracted a large and diverse fan base, who enjoy consuming and creating vampire-related content, such as fan fiction, fan art, cosplay, role-playing, blogs, forums, podcasts, and events. Some of the reasons why vampires are so appealing to modern audiences are:
They represent the dark side of human nature, the temptation of power, the allure of immortality, and the struggle between good and evil.
They offer a sense of escapism, adventure, romance, and fantasy, as well as a challenge to the norms and expectations of society.
They reflect the diversity and complexity of human identity, culture, and sexuality, as well as the issues and conflicts that arise from them.
They explore the themes of life and death, love and hate, fear and desire, and pain and pleasure, which are universal and timeless.
Are vampires real?
This is a question that has fascinated and perplexed many people for a long time. The answer is not simple or straightforward, as it depends on how one defines and understands the concept of vampirism. There are different ways to approach this question, such as:
The historical cases of alleged vampirism
There have been several cases in history where people were accused of being or becoming vampires, either by themselves or by others. Some of these cases were based on superstition, hysteria, or misunderstanding; others were based on medical or psychological conditions; and others were based on criminal or deviant behavior. Some of the most notorious and famous cases are:
Arnold Paole: A Serbian soldier who died in 1727 and was suspected of being a vampire after several people in his village died of mysterious illnesses. His body was exhumed and found to be uncorrupted, with blood in his mouth. He was staked and burned along with four other supposed vampires.
Peter Plogojowitz: Another Serbian peasant who died in 1725 and was believed to be a vampire after his wife claimed that he visited her at night and asked for his shoes. His body was also exhumed and found to be uncorrupted, with blood in his mouth. He was staked and burned as well.
Mercy Brown: A young woman from Rhode Island who died of tuberculosis in 1892 and was thought to be a vampire after her father and brother also contracted the disease. Her body was exhumed and found to be relatively preserved, with blood in her heart. Her heart was cut out and burned.
Elizabeth Báthory: A Hungarian noblewoman who lived from 1560 to 1614 and was accused of torturing and killing hundreds of young girls and bathing in their blood to preserve her youth and beauty. She was convicted and imprisoned in her castle until her death.
Vlad III Dracula: A Romanian prince who ruled from 1448 to 1476 and was known for his cruelty and impalement of his enemies. He was also the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, although he was not a vampire himself.
The scientific explanations for vampirism
Some scientists have tried to explain the phenomenon of vampirism by using natural or biological causes, such as diseases, disorders, or mutations. Some of the possible explanations are:
Porphyria: A group of rare genetic disorders that affect the production of heme, a component of blood. People with porphyria may have symptoms such as sensitivity to sunlight, skin lesions, hair growth, anemia, and reddish urine. Some may also develop a craving for blood or raw meat to compensate for their heme deficiency.
Rabies: A viral infection that affects the nervous system and causes symptoms such as aggression, confusion, insomnia, hypersalivation, and hydrophobia. People with rabies may also exhibit animal-like behavior, such as biting or scratching others.
Catalepsy: A condition that causes a loss of voluntary movement and a reduction of vital signs, such as breathing and heartbeat. People with catalepsy may appear to be dead or in a coma, but they are actually conscious and aware. They may also experience hallucinations or nightmares during their episodes.
Renfield's syndrome: A rare psychiatric disorder that involves an obsession with blood and a compulsion to drink it. People with Renfield's syndrome may harm themselves or others to obtain blood, or they may seek out willing donors or animals. They may also have delusions of being vampires or having supernatural powers.
Hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia: A genetic disorder that affects the development of hair, teeth, nails, and sweat glands. People with hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia may have features such as sparse hair, pointed teeth, dry skin, and intolerance to heat. They may also have a reduced ability to sweat, which can cause them to overheat easily.
The contemporary vampire subculture
There are also people who identify themselves as vampires or who adopt a vampire lifestyle or aesthetic in the modern world. These people are part of the vampire subculture, which is a diverse and complex phenomenon that encompasses various beliefs, practices, and communities. Some of the aspects of the vampire subculture are:
Vampire identity: Some people claim to be real vampires who need to feed on blood or energy to survive or thrive. They may consider themselves to be born or awakened as vampires, or they may have undergone a process of transformation or initiation by another vampire. They may also have a personal or spiritual connection to vampirism.
Vampire lifestyle: Some people choose to live as vampires by adopting a certain style of dress, behavior, or attitude. They may wear dark or Gothic clothing, makeup, jewelry, or accessories; they may adopt a nocturnal or alternative schedule; they may follow a certain code of ethics or etiquette; they may use a different name or title; or they may engage in activities such as role-playing, gaming, clubbing, or art.
Vampire community: Some people seek out other vampires or vampire enthusiasts to form social networks or groups. They may communicate online through websites, forums, chat rooms, blogs, podcasts, or social media; they may meet offline through events, parties, gatherings or organizations; or they may join or form a house, clan, coven, or family of vampires. They may also share information, resources, support, or guidance with each other.
Vampires are fascinating creatures that have a rich and diverse history, culture, and representation in fiction and media. They have evolved from being feared and hated monsters to being admired and loved heroes or antiheroes. They have also inspired many people to explore their own identity, creativity, and spirituality through vampirism. Whether they are real or not, vampires are here to stay and will continue to enchant and intrigue us for generations to come.
Summary of the main points
In this article, we have learned that:
Vampires are mythical creatures that feed on the vital essence of the living, usually in the form of blood or energy.