Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampirism by Joseph Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
IT's about time that someone analyzed the vampire movement and backed it up with some good field work, interviews and research into sociological theories and psychology. Joseph Laycock has produced such a book and it stands out from the rest. Joseph also demonstrates respect for those who identify themselves as vampires.He treats it liker a legitimate classification , which to many vampires it is.
But how do you define vampire? Those self identified vampires do not seem to have a definition. Before one could use literature and mythology to identify and define one but now a days that will not cut it. Even in literature they are evolving. These days vampires are not limited to wandering in nocturnal darkness, nor are they prevented from crossing streams or repelled by crosses and garlic. Now they can eat steak, lounge in the sun. I think you get it now.
There are categories of vampire that are much discussed. The first category is the lifestyler. This person knows that he is not a vampire but acts out the role in pretend. They go to clubs, play LARP and dress gothic. They also do not believe in the existence of vampires. The next category of vampire is the sanguinarian vampire. This vampire drinks blood. Psychic Vampires feed off of people energy. Hybrids can feed between the two. Last there are those individuals who get intiated into a magical order and become a vampire. This contrast with many vampires who awakened into their natural being.
That is quite a few categories. Literature has oft times imbued us with images of the undead. But literature is changing as well. Before the vampire was a living corpse that fed off human blood. With John Polidori the image of the vampire began to change. THe vampire became aristocratic, charming and seductive. WIth writers like Anne Rice it bace even more more sexy, outcastish and rock and roll rebellious.
Indeed how vampires see themselves is largely an interaction with literature. Lit defines their experiences it is used as an identifier. Some psi vamps cclaim they were born this way and it was not a choice. Psychologists have examined this trend to figure out what exactly caused vampirism and why some people think they are vampires. Porphyria causes pale skin, red eyes, patches of hair and sometimes even fangs. All symptoms of the vampire. Mental health experts have come up with "RenField Syndrom" where in someone is deluded into thinking they are a vampire or can become one . What type of people tend to identify as vampires. Experts say that child hood trauma and abuse is a common factor in those who identify as vampires. It gives them a way disassociate from the pain and form an alter ego . Other experts will sight that self identified vampires have a narcissistic personality disorder and they have a need to be worshipped and looked up to.
There are also general trends that need to be looked at as well. Big question, why are people embracing Vampire spirituality. There are some over all trends in society that contribute to this. Since the early seventies the vampire movement has grown, gone above ground and become more self aware. THe reason for growth is in part due to the narcissism of the modern world. Ever since world war two Americans and Westerners have become more self loving and interested. It is all about us. We have become more narcistic . Another trend is the market place spirituality attitude. People can now shop for the religion and spirituality that best suits them. The general public is just not into organized religion like it used to be. Another reason why alternative spirituality and pagan religion in general are cropping up is that life has become too mundane and technological. We are looking for a way to re enchant the world.
Michael Focault had some steps that make the vampire identity a peace of "Self technology" a way to build oneself into who they want to be. THe first step is identification, then changing definition and removing the harmful image.Finally come the individuation and self mastery .Needless to say both Maslow and Jung are discussed.
There is also a great analysis of the different vampire order. Like the Temple of Set's "Order of the Vampire" and Satanic Church's "Temple of the Vampire. Michelle Belanger is interviewed or at least quoted quite extensively. Her collaboration with Sebastian Van Houten is well documented and so is how her work has influenced Van Houten. Van Houten is a fang smith who started off as a dental technician, then made fangs at ren faires and then went on to found his own vampire orders and promote vampire events. His ideology is borrowed heavily from his work with Bellanger (or so the author reports) Temple of the Vampire and White Wolf's Role playing games.
THe last part of the book delves into vampire crimes.Most of those who commit these heinous acts are often mentally unbalanced and have severe family problems. Yet somehow vampirism and witchcraft always get the bad rap. Great psychology book and easy to read.
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