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South African Medical Journal

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Clinical vampirism A presentation of 3 cases and a re-evaluation of Haigh, the 'acid-bath murderer'

R.E. Hemphill, T. Zabow

Abstract


Clinical vampirism is named after the mythical vampire, and is a recognizable, although rare, clinical entity characterized by periodic compulsive blooddrinking, affinity with the dead and uncertain identity. It is hypothetically the expression of an inherited archaic myth, the act of taking blood being a ritual that gives temporary relief. From ancient times vampirists have given substance to belief in the existence of supernatural vampires. Four vampirists, including Haigh, the 'acid-bath murderer', are described. From childhood they cut themselves, drank their own, exogenous human or animal blood to relieve a craving, dreamed of bloodshed, asspciated with the dead, and had a changing identity. They were intelligent, with no family mental or social pathology. Some self-cutters are auto-vampirists; females are not likely to assault others for blood, but males are potentially dangerous. Vampirism may be a cause of unpredictable repeated assault and murder, and should be looked for in violent criminals who are self-mutilators. No specific treatment is known.




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