Among the evolving Vampiric community, there is considerable controversy over the inclusion of certain types of people who are deeply interested in vampires and vampire concerns, yet do not report the same degree or type of cravings that HLV's do, either for blood or "energy". Some of these people have ventured into the online fora for "real vampires" (predominated by psi-blood feeding or psychic HLV's) and been hurt or discouraged by the attitudes expressed there generally, or by their reception when they introduced themselves. Pejorative terms such as "wannabees" are applied to them, and "vampersonals", or classified ad listings for HLV's, are thick with "no RPGers" admonitions. Nevertheless, these individuals often are seeking someplace where they belong and feel that they can be "themselves", and some writers, including Amy Krieytaz, Vincent Verthaine, and myself, have urged that they not be arbitrarily excluded. Some true HLV's also fall into some of the categories below. Boundaries among categories can be hazy and overlap considerably, and there is no rule that says a bona fide HLV might not also be interested in lifestyle vamping or be a blood fetishist. Some of these individuals may be HLV's who have not yet accepted their true nature, and use role-playing as a way of coming to terms with their inner selves. Amy Krieytaz in particular has urged the adoption of terms such as "vampiric people" and "the vampiric community" in order to avoid excluding those who sincerely wish to be a part of the HLV's reality.
This is a category defined more by modern psychology than by popular consensus. A blood fetishist is a person who derives intense erotic/sexual arousal or satisfaction from the taste, sight, or feel of human blood. In psychological terms, such a person requires the object of obsession in order to gain any sexual release; in practice, blood fetishists may be more flexible. Amy Krieytaz explains that some blood fetishists practice bloodletting as an expression of trust, intimacy and bonding, apart from specifically erotic aspects. Blood fetishists are often found in the BDSM subculture, where their specific activities may be referred to as "bloodplay" or "bloodsports". These generally involve BDSM scenes that include bloodletting with razor blades or other implements (and sometimes by very imaginative methods). The amount of blood involved is almost always very small, and cuts seldom penetrate the dermis of the skin. Safe bloodletting techniques are highly emphasized. Blood fetishists may or may not be bona fide HLV's, or be interested in actually drinking or tasting blood. While referred to as "vampires" in psychological literature, they tend not to describe themselves with that word.
"Nonpersonal Energy Hungerers"
A term coined by Amy Krieytaz, "nonpersonal energy hungerers" are humans who have a need to draw "energy" from the environment around them, or from more esoteric sources such as "god". The term refers to the fact that these individuals don't require energy from human "persons", as do psychic vampires, but can drain it from other living things and non-living sources. Amy explains that both nonpersonal energy hungerers and psychic vampires may shift back and forth between drawing from people and drawing from "nonpersonal" sources. Another writer (who has now withdrawn from the community) discussed similar ideas, but applied them to psi-vampires, as she called them, generally, and defined herself as a "psi-vampire" although she stated that she usually did not "feed" on other people at all. However, Amy explains that the principal distinguishing feature of nonpersonal energy hungerers and psychic vampires is that psychic vampires require energy from human sources, while nonpersonal energy hungerers require energy from nonpersonal sources. For each, the alternative source is an optional and inferior substitute. Although it seems a fine distinction, it seems to be a critical one for those who experience this condition. Some nonpersonal energy hungerers have called themselves psychic vampires or otherwise identified with the psychic vampire community, but have tended to feel uncomfortable there, and sometimes felt that they were rejected or did not truly "belong". They sought a defining identity that corresponded with their actual needs without insisting that "all psychic vampires" shared their characteristics.
Nonpersonal energy hungerers experience many of the same symptoms of energy deprivation as psychic vampires. They face many of the same issues in terms of identifying and learning to tap the appropriate energy source, while controlling tendencies to "vampirize" unconsciously when in a deprived state. They can benefit from the same (or very similar) training techniques as psychic vampires. Their unique challenge is to discover precisely which source or sources of nonpersonal energy will provide them with what they need, and then locate and form connections to those sources.
Vampyre Lifestylers (sometimes "Vampyres" as opposed to "Vampires")
Individuals who dress in exotic vampire-like costumery (capes, anachronistic clothes and hairstyles, baroque and macabre jewelry, pale makeup with heavy black accents), decorate their homes in dark Victorian (or funeral parlor) gloom, assume prosthetic fangs and colored contact lenses, and in other ways imitate the Twentieth Century Vampire Myth, are sometimes called Vampyre Lifestylers. The term (to the best of my knowledge) is borrowed from "lifestyler Goth", which denotes people who are so serious about being Goth that they dress and act the part at all times and in all areas of life, as well as for clubbing or concerts. Many Vampyre Lifestylers are also Goth, and many are role-playing gamers. However, Vampyre Lifestylers take their vampiric presentation very seriously. They tend to regard vampirism as a state of mind, or a way of existence, rather than a specific tendency to "vampirize" others by "feeding" on them. For Vampyre Lifestylers, the image of the vampire is a metaphor for qualities they wish to manifest through emulation (classic imitative magic, after all). These qualities, based on the 20th Century Vampire Myth, include unearthly beauty, detachment, a long view of history and the future (if not immortality), an elegance of personal style, loyalty to a "clan" or "tribe" of "special" others like oneself, an acceptance if not a full embrace of death as a fact of life, individuality against social pressure to conform, and so on. Vampyre Lifestylers rarely if ever advocate predation upon others, although they may speak disparagingly of humans or "mortals" when they're socializing in full bloom. As a general rule, unless a Lifestyler is also an HLV (which is quite possible) or blood fetishist, he or she only dabbles in blood-drinking (or blood-tasting, more accurately) for the minor thrill and for the additional authenticity it lends to the vampire image. Some Vampyre Lifestylers form cooperative group households or "families" in order to live out the ideal of the "vampire clan" or extended family of "sires" and "fledglings" that is found in vampire games and fiction.
Some bona fide HLV's become full-blown Lifestylers as a way of expressing their inner nature. The well-known personality Catrina Coffin might be one example--Catrina's home full of macabre gimcracks, the coffin she sleeps in and the hearse she drives have been featured on several television documentaries, but she is evidently a true blood-craving HLV, as well.
For more information about Vampyre Lifestylers, see Vincent Verthaine's website,The Dark Aesthetic
There are those who may protest my inclusion of this category here, and there is no question that I am about to describe individuals who by no means are welcome among HLV's or in the vampiric community. However, I feel this category needs to be addressed, because for the average person on the street, these people--and none others--are what comes to mind when the notion of "real vampires" in any sense is brought up. They are frequently included in popular books about "real life vampires" and are the primary focus of "vampire" documentaries. HLV's and the vampire community need to clearly distinguish themselves from these people and their labeling by the psychological establishment as "vampires".
A psychotic vampire is a person who has a sociopathic mental illness that leads him (they are almost invariably male) to behave like a vampire, and sometimes to actually self-identify as one. In most cases, this identification is with folkloric/fictional vampires such as Dracula, Anne Rice's characters or the vampires in role-playing games. But more usually, psychotic vampires are simply obsessed with blood and will commit brutal crimes without remorse in order to see, taste, and feel it. They may also take on some of the trappings of Vampyre Lifestylers by wearing capes, sleeping in coffins, filling their homes with skulls, bones, and souvenirs stolen from cemeteries, and so on, but they should not be confused with true Lifestylers.
Several notorious criminals in history are considered by scholars and psychologists to have been psychotic vampires, including Fritz Haarman, Gilles de Rais, the Marquis de Sade, John Haigh, and Elizabeth Bathory. These individuals appear over and over in non-fiction books about vampires.
Some attention has been given to a condition named "Renfield's Syndrome" in psychological literature, based on the fly-eating character Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Renfield's Syndrome is described as having four stages: a trauma or "critical incident" in childhood in which the patient discovers that the taste and sight of blood is "exciting" or attractive; "autovampirism", the drinking of one's own blood (autohemophagia); "zoophagia", or the consumption of blood from animals; and finally "true vampirism", in which the patient must have human blood, and may resort to stealing blood from medical facilities, or serial murder. It should be obvious what kinds of complications could arise for HLV's being evaluated by psychologists, given this definition.
The difficult question, of course, is whether or not some psychotic vampires could actually be true HLV's suffering from mental illness. Obviously, they could. This presents even more critical reasons why HLV's need to be better understood, including to themselves.
Vampire Gamers (RPGer's)
The popularity of the role-playing game Vampire:the Masquerade has created an entire subculture of people devoted to the game, its universe, and the personae they create in order to "live" the game. These individuals have their own network of interconnected websites, chat rooms and message boards, and enjoy posting to these "in persona" as their gaming characters. As such, they maintain the illusion that they are "real vampires" as defined by the rules of the game and the fictional qualities, history and supernatural abilities accruing to their game persona. Like good actors, they hate to "break character" and explain what is going on, so their statements and dialogue online can be confusing to those who stumble into one of their fora without knowing where they are or being familiar with the game.
Some gamers and their supporters argue that the game serves a healthy purpose in allowing them to work out certain issues and to experiment with certain possibilities and potentials. It has been suggested that some gamers may actually be HLV's or vampiric people who have not yet confronted their nature, and are using the game to "try out" the idea of being a vampire and see how it feels. Other gamers are also Vampyre Lifestylers who take the ideals of the vampiric universe in the game seriously and attempt to manifest them in real life.
Unfortunately, many of those in the vampiric community feel that some gamers deliberately mislead and deceive HLV's, and true seekers of vampiric reality, by pretending to be what they are not. Some HLV's fear that by presenting themselves online as "real vampires" who claim to be centuries old predators, the gamers make living vampires look like mere role-players themselves, or create the impression that HLV's also claim, or believe themselves to be, bloodthirsty hunters of humankind or world-weary immortals with supernatural powers. For HLV's, the gamers confuse the issue of what true living vampires are, and makes it more difficult for them to find each other via such media as vampersonal ad listings or message boards. This is the reason that the majority of ads listed by HLV's or seekers looking for living vampires strictly specify that role-playing gamers not reply to the ad in persona.
It's difficult to be certain whether some role-playing gamers deliberately tease and mislead HLV's, or whether they simply don't take vampiric people seriously enough to believe that the people running the ads aren't just role-playing, too. Arguments could be made for both propositions. For the present, however, gamers are a contentious topic in the vampiric community, frequently denounced, and then defended by those vampiric people who enjoy playing the game and feel that gamers are unfairly stereotyped. As the vampiric community becomes more confident and more clearly defined, possibly these two groups will be better able to establish their boundaries and their degree of overlap, and come to a more comfortable mode de vive.
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