Does vampirism pertain only to movies and literature? Apparently it may occur also in real life, as this case report published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics illustrates.
A survey among psychiatrists suggested that ‘vampirism’ has always been associated with a ‘mental illness’ such as ‘schizophreniform disorders, hysteria, severe psychopathic disorder, and mental retardation’ or severe sexual offending. A link to dissociative identity disorder (DID), post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or possible traumatic antecedents has never been made. This paper reports a case of a 23-year-old married male (3rd of 6 siblings) presented with a 2-year history of ‘addiction’ to drinking blood. He used to cut his arms, chest, and abdomen with razor blades to collect the blood in a cup and to drink it.
The initial interest in drinking his own blood had subsequently turned to that of others’. These ‘crises’ were characterized by a strong urge to drink blood immediately, ‘as urgent as breathing’. He enjoyed the smell and taste of blood despite finding this ‘foolish’. He also enjoyed biting wounds of others to taste flesh. He was arrested several times after attacking people by stabbing and biting them with the intention of collecting and drinking their blood. He forced his father to obtain blood from blood banks.
His family history and treatment are carefully described. On Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, he only had an elevated score on emotional abuse. Nevertheless, he was amnesic to his childhood between 5 and 11 years of age. He had no affective blunting, formal thought disorder, disorganized behavior or delusions. EEG, MRI, and IQ were normal. On the Dissociative Experiences Scale he got elevated scores: 86/100 initially and 54/100 at follow-up. The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D) confirmed the diagnosis of DID. He also met the criteria for PTSD, major depressive disorder (chronic), and alcohol abuse. Despite his criminal behaviors, he did not meet the diagnostic criteria of antisocial or borderline personality disorder, or those of schizophrenic disorder. Tragically, the PTSD of this patient was reinforced by his own criminal experiences.