Notably known as “The Fly Man”, R. M. Renfield is a fictional character from the widely renowned horror Gothic novel, Dracula written by Bram Stoker in 1897. Under the care of Dr. Jack Seward and his insane asylum, mental patient Renfield falls victim to the alluring spell of the infamous Count Vlad Dracula. “The vampire, whose abilities include control over animals such as rats, bats and spiders, comes to Renfield with an offer: if Renfield worships him, he promises to make him immortal by providing an endless supply of insects and rats, as Renfield believes that blood is the source of life.” ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renfield
Anyone familiar with this iconic story knows that Renfield likes to munch on insects, like a movie-goer with a tub of popcorn. *Eeeww… sorry, I had a brief shudder moment just thinking about it.* As grotesque as it sounds, according to Stoker’s famed novel, Renfield honestly did believe it gave him immortality.
Now we all know that this is not true, but there actually is a medical condition referred to as Renfield’s Syndrome. It’s also known as Clinical Vampirism which is the obsession with drinking what? BLOOD! (Insert theatrical sound effects here…. *bum bum BUMMM!!*) That’s right! The act of people really doing this is nothing made up.
“The earliest formal presentation of clinical vampirism to appear in the psychiatric literature, with the psychoanalytic interpretation of two cases, was contributed by Richard L. Vanden Bergh and John F. Kelley in 1964. As the authors point out, brief and sporadic reports of blood-drinking behaviors associated with sexual pleasure have appeared in the psychiatric literature at least since 1892 with the work of Austrian forensic psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing. Many medical publications concerning clinical vampirism can be found in the literature of forensic psychiatry, with the unusual behavior reported as one of many aspects of extraordinary violent crimes.” ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_vampirism
Wow! With that being said, upon doing research I discovered that those who have Renfield’s Syndrome include a variety of people. Some are happy to make public their “need to feed”, while others are extremely private about it. Even some serial killers have been known to have this blood-thirsty condition.
Richard Chase, a.k.a. “The Vampire of Sacramento” (California), killed six people in one month. He ate from their flesh and drank their blood. In December 1980, he committed suicide in his prison cell. He overdosed on the anti-depressant medication prescribed by his doctor that he had been saving up for quite some time.
Fritz Haarmann, a.k.a. “The Vampire of Hanover” (Germany), killed at least twenty-seven people. He committed many of his murders by biting through his victims’ throats. In April 1925, he was executed by guillotine. His last words? “I repent, but I do not fear death.”
Peter Kürten, a.k.a. “The Vampire of Dusseldorf” (Germany), killed at least nine people. It was reported that he drank the blood of several of his victims. In July 1931, he was executed by guillotine.
Roderrick Justin Ferrell, a sixteen year old who claimed he was Vesago, a five hundred year old vampire. He joined a group of teenagers that referred to themselves as “The Vampire Clan”. In 1998 Roderrick became the youngest person to be put on death row in the United States. He was found guilty of murdering a couple in Florida. Since his conviction, his penalty has been reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
And this last one….. not a serial killer, but still a very disturbing story!
James P. Riva, a.k.a. “The Schizophrenic Vampire”, a deranged individual who claimed that he was a seven hundred year old vampire. In April 1980, he stabbed his elderly grandmother in her heart and then shot her four times using bullets that he had painted gold. Prior to setting her house on fire in a poor attempt to cover up his heinous crime, he drank her blood. In 1981 James was sentenced to life in prison for second degree murder and arson in Marshfield, Massachusetts.
As fascinated as I am by the whole idea of vampirism that has been romanticized by the Gothic era and Bram Stoker’s amazing novel, Dracula, I would never justify any such act as the above mentioned by the twisted individuals that harbored such a horrific darkness in their hearts. What they did was completely unfathomable.
But…. Do I love a good vampire tale? Of course I do! I mean, come on…. I recently wrote a short story titled, My Phantom Traveler based on the lore. One of my all time fave films is The Lost Boys! Still love the grandpa in that movie, he cracks me up every time I see it! Him using Windex as aftershave when he went to see the old widow Johnson…. lol…. crazy stuff!
So, do vampires really exist or is it all just folklore? For those who have Renfield’s Syndrome, it’s pretty real to them……
Hmmm….. a little something to ponder while sinking one’s fangs into their next meal…. *thinking to myself as I run my tongue across my naturally pointy teeth.* (and yes, I’ve often been told that my pearly whites resemble those of the fanged creatures.)
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