5 Halloween Character Case Files
WebMD delves into the medical and psychological histories of witches, zombies, ghouls, vampires, and werewolves to uncover the scary truth about these frightening figures.
Halloween Character Case File No. 2: Zombies continued...
Those who absorb the preparation quickly can begin to hallucinate, with
visual and auditory changes, and their breathing becomes depressed, he says.
Those are the ones who turn into "zombies" -- someone who can barely
walk, barley see, and walks very clumsily. They walk around with arms
outstretched, stiff arms and legs, as if they are bumping into things, he
Those who absorbed it slowly, he says, went home and slept it off. And they
were presumed innocent.
Another expert, Daniel Lapin, PhD, a clinical psychologist with a private
practice in San Francisco, sees the medical mystery of zombies differently. In
Haiti in the 1700 and 1800s, the bokor, or priest, selected a victim and laced
his drink with curare, a preparation of plant poisons that knocks out the motor
nerves but keeps the sensory system untouched.
"As total paralysis sets in, the bokor pretends to be magically inducing
the paralysis," Lapin says. "The bokor next officiates at the victim's
burial. The victim thinks he or she is being buried alive." And the victim
Two or three days later, the bokor digs up the victim. "The victim bonds
subserviently and forever with the person who digs them up, usually the person
who drugged them," Lapin says.
Sometimes, however, Lapin says the victim would "go crazy during the
ordeal," and the bokor then has no use for them and drives them away. The
victim would then be likely to wander from village to village, Lapin tells
WebMD, earning the reputation as the village idiot.
Halloween Character Case File No. 3: Ghouls
Ghouls, traced back to ancient Arabic folklore, have a complicated,
troubling psychological profile. They like to hang around burial grounds. And
they have an obsessive-compulsive desire to consume corpses, says Lapin.
"Unlike a psychotic, they know what they are doing, know the consequences,
know it is wrong, and could turn themselves in," he says.
"Some just obsess about this in their head," he says, but some
actually do the dastardly deed. In 19th-century India, for instance, Lapin says
there are reports of women with this condition, sitting around a grave and
Halloween Character Case File No. 4: Vampires
Probably the best-known vampire is Dracula, the centuries-old vampire who
stars in the 1897 Gothic horror novel by Bram Stoker.
While some say vampires have no heart, that's not true, says Lapin, who
self-published a book, The Vampire, Dracula, and Incest. "A vampire
has a heart, but it is imploded [psychologically]," he says. That's the
origin, he says, of a vampire's need to suck blood.
Developmentally, he says, the vampire has a "glitch" in the oral
sucking stage of development. "It's not accurate to say they are
fixated," he says, "because if they are really fixated that would be
the roots of narcissism."