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. 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."
"Dracula was a narcissist, but not all [vampires] are," says
"Vampires may have a psychological need to control others," says
Barbara Almond, MD, a Palo Alto, Calif., psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at the
San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis. She has published on the topic of Bram
Stoker's Dracula and its psychoanalytic explanation.
Vampirism, she says, could represent a fantasy. "The fantasy would be
taking over and controlling others by bleeding them."
The victim and vampire, she tells WebMD, can become pathologically dependent
on each other. The victim may also become a vampire, and then they will never
leave each other.
Krippner sees yet another possibility for a vampire's behavior.
"Vampires may be anemic," he says. Going after another's blood, he
says, "might be a form of self-medication."
If he had to pick a psychiatric diagnosis for vampires, he says, "I
would say they were suffering from delusional schizophrenia." Vampires
might have believed they could live a long time if they drank human blood,
Halloween Character Case File No. 5: Werewolves
Werewolves, talked about and reported on since ancient Greek times, may have
a rare psychiatric disorder called lycanthropy, in which one has the delusion
he or she is being transformed into a wolf.
The lycanthropy can be due to a psychosis or hysteria, what most of us call
madness, Lapin says. It's not linked with depression, he says.
Werewolves, Lapin says, also "get a sexual thrill, conscious or
unconscious, from murdering. They want to dominate and control through terror
that evokes submission, and they want to humiliate and degrade."
Believing he is turning into a wolf by imagining the hair growth is the
werewolf's way to disassociate, Lapin says. "It's simply a way to stay
unconscious of what they are doing."