In the modern age, vampires have become media stars. The word "vampire" became a household name in 1897 after the publication of "Dracula."1 More recently, the vampire novels by Anne Rice have become best sellers.2 Television shows such as "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" and movies with vampire themes are increasingly popular. However the popularity of these characters can lead some people, teenagers in particular, down a dangerous road.
There are beliefs and superstitions regarding vampires that date back to medieval Europe. The vampire is thought to be of Slavic origin. They are fictional characters that are believed to be evil spirits that have been refused entry into another world after death because of some unsuitable behavior. They must drink the blood of the living in order to sustain themselves. These mythical characters live in cemeteries and only leave their gravesite at night. They do not have a real identity and therefore do not cast a shadow or a reflection in a mirror.
If bitten by a vampire, you could become one. Vampires are immortal beings that can only be killed with a wooden stake that must be stabbed through their heart.
Reported in the medical literature for more than a century and named after the mythical vampire, clinical vampirism is a recognizable, although rare, clinical entity characterized by periodic compulsive blood drinking and an affinity with death.3 The cases documented in the medical literature only refer to those cases in which there is obvious psychosis. Very little has been written about vampire subcultures in which individuals pretend to be and act out vampire-like characteristics. In those cases in which there is psychosis, the patients have an irresistible urge for blood ingestion, which is a ritual that brings them relief. They are attracted to death, not because they...