Are Sanguinarians Really Victims of Renfield’s Syndrome?

In order to learn as much as I can about our vast vampire-filled world, I have been reading various writings by Sanguinarians about who they are. They see themselves as mortal humans with the need to drink blood in order to maintain their physical health. Sanguinarians truly believe that they must consume human blood in order to survive. I could simply accept that, that there are people out there that need to drink blood, but honestly, the more I think about it the more I wonder if Sanguinarians are really victims of Renfield’s Syndrome.

Renfield’s Syndrome, better known as Clinical Vampirism, is a pathological condition in which a person feels compelled to drink blood. The term “Renfield’s Syndrome” was first coined by clinical psychologist Richard Noll after the character Renfield in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula.

Here is where Renfield’s Syndrome differs from the Sanguinarians – clinical vampirism isn’t necessarily consensual like the feeding between Sangs and their donors. Also, it varies in severity. Some people seem to be totally normal in most aspects, except for their occasional craving for some blood to drink. However, other cases involve paranoia, schizophrenia, violence and aggression towards others. This condition often starts with auto-vamprism – drinking one’s own blood – and progresses to drinking blood of insects and animals, and finally comes to drinking the blood of other humans.

Many severe clinical vampire cases involve twisted, violent and murderous individuals – that does not fit the Sanguinarian lifestyle. However, the desire to drink blood is very similar. I continue to wonder if Clinical Vampirism has ties to Sanguinarians.

Now, I know that we have many Sang readers here, and I am by no means trying to insult anyone, so I ask for your opinion on this matter. Do you think it’s possible that some Sanguinarians are actually sufferers of Renfield’s Syndrome?

– Moonlight

By Moonlight

Moonlight (aka Amanda) loves to write about, read about and learn about everything pertaining to vampires. You will most likely find her huddled over a book of vampire folklore with coffee in hand. Touch her coffee and she may bite you (and not in the fun way).


  1. If the “Renfielder” is totally normal in most aspects, except for their occasional craving for some blood, a donor (a la Sanguinarian practice) would fill the need.

    Some people try to dismiss the need/craving of blood by saying blood is 90% water.
    Celery is 91% water, and drinking a glass of water is not the same as eating a celery stick.

  2. I’m pretty sure this has been addressed numerous, numerous times and frankly the symptoms don’t add up. There are other differences as well:

    1. Most sufferers of Renfield’s syndrome are male. It appears (resulting from a handful of surveys) that most sanguinarians are female for whatever reason.
    2. People with RS believe there is something about blood that enhances them, most sanguinarians believe it simply sustains them (not magical powers, just ability to function normally.)
    3. Most sangs don’t experience sexual arousal from their blood drinking.
    4. Most sangs don’t experience this progression that is pretty characteristic of RS that you mentioned in your article.

    There are more points I could make, but I think you get the point.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong about speculating about the cause of sanguinarianism, but there are violent connotations that go along with RS and the fact that this has been suggested over and over again and promptly dismissed on pretty valid grounds (the only thing they seem to have in common with one another is the consumption of blood) can’t help me think that speculations like THIS ONE in particular do more harm than good.

    1. In your list you wrote “most sangs” multiple times – most, as in not all, sangs. So it is possible that SOME sangs are actually sufferers of Renfield’s Syndrome.
      Your list doesn’t have me convinced yet, with every mental condition there are varying degrees. It’s possible that sangs just have a lesser form of RS.

      Also, this post does not do more harm than good in my opinion. Honestly, sangs already have the majority of the world against them, they are already seen by most as freaks who drink blood – a single post can’t possibly make sangs look any worse to the general public. The only thing a sang can do is prove themselves when topics like this come up. It’s when you can’t prove yourself that you look bad and more harm than good is done.

    2. Sanguinarians are not all alike. Many sanguinarians do believe that blood enhances them, even if only in subtle ways. Many sanguinarians do experience an excitement or sexual arousal during blood drinking. It’s a perfectly legitimate conclusion that some sanguinarians have Renfield’s Syndrome (or clinical vampirism). As it seemingly begins with autovampirism and progresses further, perhaps those that drink animal blood from a butcher, or those who also experience a sexual arousal while drinking, or those that feel it enhances them in any way, display a further progression of clinical vampirism as it is defined.

      If it has never been officially diagnosed, and isn’t separately included in the DSM-IV or the recently published DSM-V, how can we say that sufferers are overwhelmingly male? I haven’t yet found a source for this claim. I’m guessing they mean the final stage or true vampirism, which refer to the violent crimes. In the DSM’s, vampirism is usually classified as a fetish or paraphilia.

      There’s no doubt that Renfield’s Syndrome has been discussed numerous times already. That will never be a factor in determining what we will not choose as a topic of discussion. As for doing more harm than good, I am usually suspicious when someone wants to sweep a topic under the rug. We are here to educate and entertain. We are here to brainstorm and philosophize about all things vampire.

  3. Being Pranic (Latent Energy feeding) I do not think Renfield’s Syndrome is practical for other sangs or those who may crave blood…for any energy need. I am talking about energy feeders, who crave it in an energy way, similar to how they also crave coffee. I am not talking about whose who drink it for a creepy sexual be like a Vampire in a book or movie.
    Not to insult anyone…
    Ren’s sounds similar to the Strigoi “Strugal” which is a vampire like being who craves blood, but for some reason it doesn’t complete the energy doesn’t get the energy it needs from the blood and they can’t digest it either..their body rejects it.
    The answer is simple really, their body has made a bad mistake shamanically, and they made a bad choice with a totem..their body becomes sick and overtime has to manually correct itself.
    Strigoi are very Shamanic, and it works. Normal Community Vampires don’t understand the link between magick and our lives.
    So we don’t push the point.

    1. I am talking about energy feeders, who crave it in an energy way, similar to how they also crave coffee.
      Our bodies crave salt, sugar and fat, but we need only small amounts of these three.

      Caffeine, we don’t really “need” at all, but there are many coffee lovers on this site (myself included), because we are (cue Lugosi accent) “night people, you know”. >;^]

      This suggests that to the Renfielders, blood is a “drug”, something close to caffeine.
      Not a need, but a source of stimulation.

      1. Hah. I love Coffee, because the bean is natural. It’s not the Caffiene, it’s the natural stimulant, that is grown on a bush in nature’s 5 elements (hence, elemental vampirism, and why my body loves it…) Also with pepsi and other caffiene drinks I now know it is the Phosorbic acids and things in them that make me feel bubbly and light. It does something for me in a shamanic way that helps my body feel “right” sounds stupid, its like the same stuff that makes the drink fizzy.

        I also like Snapple white tea, and other Sobe drinks and the natural ingredients in them do the same for me as other caffiene drinks and coffee. I have fibro, so I have had to cut my caffiene habit in half and I feel better for it. A Couple of years ago I would have said something different, and sorry for the spelling mistakes, but I have had to go away from the main community and do my own thing for a while.

        I think personally than this RS is just a heavy term for True Vampirism, that leaves people uncomfy with how “rawr” and beasty it is. No one as a vampire wants to feel out of control with his or her thirst or gifts, but it happens a whole lot more than people realize. I accept who I am fully and work with it all, instead of against it. That is why I am a shaman. It works better that way for me anyways.

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  5. First off great post Moonlight i truely enjoyed reading it.
    Second as i read this post and the subsequent coments i couldn’t shake a feeling that there is one possibilty we are not mentioning, what if people suffering from RS are just sangs that had never found the blood suport “normal” sangs have.
    For example i live on an island with very little people who enjoy vampires, if i were a sang and didn’t get my “fill” of blood i would at first feel week but after time who’s to say the need for blood would grow until it consumed me to a point where i would do anything to get it then i would suffer from RS.
    I’m not saying this is the case for everyone with RS but i could see this being the reason for some people especially if we put other social elements into the mix

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  8. Interesting article and it really was an eye opener for me. I didn’t even know that sangs existed or Renfields syndrome. I think that anything that leads to violence ex murder, rape has some psychiatric component. If some sangs are nonviolent but have an obsession or need to drink blood then who am I to judge. There are some people that have a craving for dish detergent and have to eat it. However, if their desire or need turns into horrific violence then I think that this is Renfields Syndrome. As to which came first I believe that we have to look at the definitions and also the person. Is sangs something that progresses into the delusion that the person is really a vampire and then into renfields syndrome. I don’t know I guess it is a case by case basis.

  9. I realize this is a fairly old article but I found it when searching for the theory that exists in the text above.

    I am a sanguinarian. I’ve been drinking blood for about 3 years now. This is not a lifestyle I chose either. Frankly, my interests in vampires before this time period was non-existent. I knew what the concept of a vampire was and that Hollywood made millions off of it, but that’s about it. My awakening to my new lifestyle took about 3 months before it really started to solidify that drinking blood for health reasons was a fact of life now.

    Renfield’s Syndrome is definitely on my radar of possible causes but it presents two potential problems for my case.

    1. Clinical Vampirism states that the arousal is sexual in nature. Before I continue, let’s clarify some things. Pleasure is all derived from the same source in the brain. (the release of endorphin withing the brain) So pleasure is pleasure no matter where it comes from. If we further classify it as “sexual pleasure”, then that suggests the pleasure is being stimulated from 1 or more sexually stimulating areas such as the genitalia or breast for women. Clinical vampirism specifically narrows it down to sexual pleasure. This is simply not true for me. I am a male. To put it bluntly, nothing goes on “down there” when I’m drinking blood from another person. A metaphor I use to describe it is a TV set receiving two channels. They both have their own frequency and the both can’t be watched at the same time. After I finish a feeding I definitely become sexually active with all the energy I receive.

    2. The three stages mentioned don’t really exist in my case, nor does a single childhood event stick out in my mind. I started with rare steaks and when that stopped sufficing I fortunately found a willing donor and after that I found a source of fresh beef blood as well. So the stages were very out of order if present at all. I’ve also never inflicted self harm on myself to drink my own blood. If I cut myself on accident I would stick my finger in my mouth and suck on it. (But that is a common thing others do as well) There really is no desire to drink my own blood. It really doesn’t serve a purpose in my mind.

    My current belief is that it is hereditary to a certain extent. (possibly a recessive gene) I’ve noticed similar traits in my parents but to the degree that I have them. I’m leaning toward the idea that it is genetic in nature, (physical afflictions that may have mental ramifications) however this is just conjecture on my part combining my own personal knowledge with other opinions and healthy skepticism. As far as Renfield’s goes though, I just don’t fit the bill other than the desire to drink blood from (healthy) others.

    I hope this contributes something that you were looking for,


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