The official status of clinical vampirism, otherwise called Renfield Syndrome, is currently popularized, though rarely emulated by criminals. Unfortunately, because of its rare appearance in society, it doesn’t actually appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The current version, the DSM-IV is a list of all mental disorders, that includes the criteria necessary for diagnosis; in other words, Renfield Syndrome aka clinical vampirism, is not recognized as an official illness, despite the active term being applied to occasional cases of psychiatric interest. The cases the term is applied to are usual those of serial killers and violent criminals who drink their victims’ blood. However, there are psychiatric references made to the disease.
For example, you may find the works of Richard Noll especially intriguing; he coined the term Renfield Syndrome, and discusses it in his book, Bizarre Diseases of the Mind. Noll named the disease after Dracula’s deranged victim, Dr. Renfield, who spent his time in the story locked within a prison-like mental facility, eating insects because he craved their life force. Noll claims that males are most often affected by the disease, and that it runs in stages. The first stage is an event in the male’s life before puberty, in which he is sexually excited by a bloody injury, or ingestion of the blood. The second stage is sexual fantasies about drinking blood during puberty, which eventually becomes auto-vampirism, –drinking one’s own blood. Inevitably, the individual suffering from Renfield Syndrome is tempted to try this on animals, which leads to drinking the blood of human beings.
There are only a few case files with which to study, making the disease rare, and hard to investigate, in terms of psychological interest. The book also touched on other extremely rare personality disorders, such as possession, and split- or multiple personalities, disease that modern psychiatry knows very little about. The sad fact is that for Renfield Syndrome to be more identifiable, and more easily diagnosed, there would have to be more cases of the illness to study. The more disturbing question lies in the modern vampire community; are these people suffering from a mental illness, or are they simply following a lifestyle that makes them happy? This editor plans to bring back a favorite interview subject; the vampire Merticus, to answer that question, and discover how the modern vampire community feels about the disease.