Skip to content

Mental Health Center

Font Size

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 continued...

"Dracula was a narcissist, but not all [vampires] are," says Lapin.

"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, Krippner says.

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."

The Joy of Being Creeped Out on Halloween

If your motto is the scarier the costume, the better, chances are you like the creepiness of it all.

And some say that's just fine -- at least for while. "Halloween," Krippner says, "is one of the few occasions where it is OK to flirt with the dark side of life."

1|2|3
Reviewed on October 25, 2007

Today on WebMD

contemplation
Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
 
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
 
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
Article
Plate of half eaten cakes
Article
 
Phobias
Slideshow
mother kissing newborn
Slideshow
 
Woman multitasking
Article
thumbnail_tired_woman_yawning
Article
 
colored pencils
VIDEO
Woman relaxing with a dog
Feature
 

WebMD Special Sections