Clinical vampirism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Clinical vampirism, more commonly called Renfield's syndrome or Renfield syndrome, is an obsession with drinking blood. 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.

The behavior has never gained official recognition by the psychiatric profession and is not found in any edition of the International Classification of Diseases or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, in the more colorful era in the history of psychiatry that predated the 1980s rise of the bureaucratic hegemony of coded categories of (supposedly) theory-neutral mental disorders in DSM and ICD, the psychiatric literature was fertile ground for the flourishing of case history reports of "uncommon psychiatric syndromes" or "extraordinary disorders of human behavior" that included not only clinical vampirism, but also lycanthropy, possession, stigmata and other unusual phenomena.

Renfield's Syndrome

The alternate label "Renfield syndrome" is named after Dracula's human zoophagous follower, R. M.Renfield, in the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker. According to an interview conducted by psychology professor Katherine Ramsland with clinical psychologist Richard Noll, who coined the eponymous term in a 1992 book, he invented the term and its purported diagnostic criteria as a whimsical parody of the "new DSM-speak" of the psychiatry of the 1980s. In a public lecture hosted by Penn State University's Institute for the Arts and Humanities on 7 October 2013, Noll traced the 20-year trajectory of his unintentionally created "monster" from the moment of its creation as a parody of DSM mental disorders to the cultural popularity of Renfield's Syndrome today.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Clinical vampirism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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