Home » Are Vampires Real?
“Are vampires real?” is not a question with a straightforward answer. Vampires exist in fictionalized characters from books and film, as well as in the real world through news reports of vampire attacks and people who claim they are themselves vampires.
Real vampires may, however, mean different things to different people. Some people think of Count Dracula from Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula as the quintessential vampire, while others see vampirism as related to a medical condition. Before you can decide of whether or not vampires are real, you must explore the different kinds of vampires.
Mythological creatures that live by feeding on the life force of living creatures, usually through consumption of blood, have been a part of civilization since the ancient times in Greece and Rome. Some of the earliest descriptions of vampires are found in Greek mythology. Empusae, a demigoddess, seduced men in their sleep and then fed on their blood and flesh.
Lamia was a grandchild of Poseidon and a queen of Libya. After her affair with the Greek god Zeus was discovered, Lamia went on a killing spree, murdering her own children and those of others, then drinking their blood. In literature, Lamia has been used to reference multiple lamiae, which are mythological monsters that are akin to vampires as they seduce men so to drink their blood.
However, it would not be until the 18th century that the modern vampire came to be known. The word “vampire” was first recorded in 1734 by the Oxford English Dictionary; it was used in “Travels of Three English Gentleman,” a travelogue that was featured in the Harleian Miscellany.
During this time there was a surge of superstitions in Western Europe that came out of Eastern Europe, in particular the Balkans that were connected with vampires. The mass hysteria of vampire-related cases is notable, as so many people began to ask “are vampires real?” during this time. They were even digging up graves and staking corpses in order to free the dead bodies of vampire beings.
In particular, there were two cases of vampirism that spread throughout Europe, thus fueling the fire of the superstition. In 1725 a Serbian peasant named Peter Plogojowitz died. Following his death, those from his village claimed that he became a vampire and killed nine people.
The case was the first thoroughly documented report of actual vampirism. It was presented in full to the Austrian administration by Imperial Provisor Frombald, who was on hand to witness the staking of Plogojowitz’s corpse.
A year later, another Serbian named Arnold Paole died. Paole, a soldier and farmer, had reportedly been attacked by a vampire many years before he died in a hay field. Following Paole’s death, it was believed that he had returned to feed on his neighbors in as a real vampire. Another incident that begged the question “are vampires real?” also occurred in Serbia. Sava Savanović was believed to be a vampire who lived in a watermill where he would kill and feed on millers. This story was later used for inspiration in the horror film Leptirica as written by Milovan Glišić in 1973.
These stories spread from travelers all throughout Europe, which encouraged writers to ask the question “are vampires real?”. Written stories including the 1819 novella The Vampyre by John Polidori, and the unfinished story called “Fragment of a Novel” by Lord Bryon, which was also published in 1819 addressed the idea of the archetypal vampire.
Then in 1872, the novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu explored the idea of a female vampire.
However, it was not until 1897 that the modern day vampire as we typically recognize it came to be, thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Yet all of these stories are fictional accounts that are based on the burning question of “are vampires real?” that had started as a superstition but had not been disclaimed.
So, are vampires real? and if they are not, what is the rational or scientific explanation of vampires?
It has been discovered that there are medical conditions that are associated with vampirism.
Rabies, a neurological condition, makes an individual highly sensitive to many objects including light and the odorous garlic. This brain degenerating disease affects areas of the brain that cause one to have abnormal sleeping patterns, which could cause one to become nocturnal, as well as hyper sexuality. Also, two animals that carry rabies -- bats and wolves -- are typically associated with vampirism. When someone or something contracts rabies, they want to bite others and they will have a frothing often tinged with blood that comes out of their mouth. The question “Are vampires real?” could be answered here by saying that vampirism may be a symptom of rabies.
However, there are some people who are actually vampires, just not the type of vampire that is depicted in history and literature. Subcultures of vampires include groups of people who believe in earnest that they are vampires. These groups do not attack people so they can feed on them, as is associated with vampirism. They are divided into two categories: sanguine vampires and psychic vampires.
Sanguinarian vampirism requires people to drink blood, which comes from people who donate it to them. This type of vampire believes that they must drink human blood so they can retain their health, both mentally and physically.
Psychic vampires feed off of other people’s energy. Also known as psi-vamps, this type of vampire claims that psychic energy from others must be attained for nourishment. Both types of vampires live in a collective community of other vampires, as a need to feed on a regular basis without fear of judgment and for moral support.
There are also people who pretend they are vampires, real though they are not. Also known as fashion vamps, this type of vampire is a hardcore vampire fan who wears vampire clothing and lives like a vampire, i.e. sleeping during the day, staying away from sun, sleeping standing in a coffin. Most of the fashion vamps are participants in vampire role-playing games like Vampire: The Masquerade.
So the question of “are vampires real?” can be answered both yes and no, depending on an individual’s idea and theory of what a vampire is. If you want to be a vampire, it seems like you may be able to find a niche for your interest. However, if you are afraid that a vampire is going to come to you while you are sleeping and attack you for your blood, it is fair to say that you will be waiting for a really, really long time.