Real-life vampires with real-life problems
July 9, 2015 4:03 PM   Subscribe

A new study investigates the experiences of self-identified vampires in disclosing their identity to helping professionals. The study seeks to understand the experiences and concerns of people self-identifying as vampires who are faced with the choice of disclosing their identity to professionals such as social workers and counselors when seeking help for various issues. The actual journal article in Critical Social Work can be found here.
posted by Sir Rinse (186 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, it's certainly interesting.
posted by lineofsight at 4:30 PM on July 9, 2015


[Folks, please save the goofing for when it doesn't completely trivialize a thread before a conversation can start. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:31 PM on July 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


This only brings to mind the Medium article about the young pedophile, and his challenges regarding finding professional help without becoming a criminal in the process. (trigger warning)

The abstract brings out similarities:
"Results suggest that nearly all participants were distrustful of social workers and helping professionals and preferred to “stay in the coffin” for fear of being misunderstood, labeled, and potentially having to face severe repercussions to their lives."

The text even mentions the fact that "People with alternative identities face the same potential for microaggressions and oppression from their workers as those who occupy other positions of minority status.", listing punishment/bondage, submission/dominance, and sadomasochism.
posted by shenkerism at 4:34 PM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know how to frame this properly, so here it is: isn't the belief that you need the blood of others for energy pretty solid evidence of at least delusion, if not full on mental illness?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:40 PM on July 9, 2015 [42 favorites]


The paper notes that "many real vampires report feeding on psychic or pranic energy" and then quickly moves on. I have to admit to being a little curious about what that entails.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:41 PM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Fffm, so what? If there's help to be got they need to be able to talk about how they feel.

Humanity is diverse and perhaps a bit strange around the edges, in most cases probably best if people can talk about how they feel.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 4:45 PM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


What? Yes obviously they need someone to talk to.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:48 PM on July 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


They sound like empaths that are hypersensitive to their environments but without proper coping skills, or suffer from chronic fatigue. It doesn't sound so strange - at least animal blood is a well-known foodstuff.
posted by yueliang at 4:53 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


The paper notes that "many real vampires report feeding on psychic or pranic energy" and then quickly moves on. I have to admit to being a little curious about what that entails.
Have you ever felt completely drained after talking to someone for ten minutes? That's an "energy vampire". Psychic/Pranic/Qi energy isn't a real thing, but it might be a conceptual category that contains things like microagressions.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:53 PM on July 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


i feel like there's a pretty big difference between people who have consenting adult relationships that include blood and pedophiles. introducing pedophiles to a conversation not about them makes it harder to participate in for some survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
posted by nadawi at 4:55 PM on July 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


Imagine if a little sip of blood could cure my fatigue - I'd totally get someone to donate some to me. But it probably wouldn't work for me since I can't believe it.

It would be awesome to believe, and be cured.
posted by elizilla at 4:56 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


We already have terms for that. They're not "vampire".

Sure people need to be able to express themselves, but these people are delusional. We shouldn't be enabling their delusions by treating them as if they're an actual oppressed group.
posted by Sangermaine at 4:57 PM on July 9, 2015 [31 favorites]


Fffm, I guess in light of the post frame being about how these folks are less likely to talk about their whole identity because of fear of being stereotyped I just don't see why you jump to labeling them categorically?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 4:59 PM on July 9, 2015


Something about this being in an academic journal "dedicated to social justice" doesn't sit well with me. While possibly a useful personal construct, "real psychic vampire" as self-identity seems like a hop and a skip away from otherkins, "transracialism", and a lot of slippery-sloping that gets used to paint the social justice movement in a bad light.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:02 PM on July 9, 2015 [26 favorites]


What Sangermaine said. This is a delusion, not an identity.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:02 PM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


I imagine they're in the same boat as people who fall in love with the Eiffel tower, or who want to lose their limbs, or who see lizard-people on the news, or any number of other delusional thoughts.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:03 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Liberal" is a label. "Delusional" is someone suffering from delusions, a common symptom of mental illness. There is no such thing as a vampire, pranic or otherwise. I also don't see a problem with the identification of these beliefs as delusional — seriously believing that you are a vampire is, like believing you are god or a centaur, probably part of a larger disorder that needs to be treated. The fact that it is not actively harmful (as in someone who believes that others are attacking them, and lash out violently in response) doesn't make it innocuous. This is a serious and persistent distortion of reality that we mustn't treat like a legitimate way of "identifying" oneself, for several reasons.

There's definitely a discussion to be had about where the line is, of course, but psychic vampires are well on the far side of the line. I hope these people get the help they need and deserve, but that help isn't acceptance or demarginalizing.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:06 PM on July 9, 2015 [13 favorites]






It's telling how delusional people self-identify with the cool monster, the sexy monster.

We got plenty of Edward Cullen-style vampires, but where are the people that self-identify as Nosferatu? People identify as dragonkin. OK, as long as we're going fantasy, where are my hill giants at?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:09 PM on July 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


A lot of identity stuff is also "all in your head", so to speak. It's hard to draw the line on this. It's in some ways similar, I think, to how it's hard to draw the line between psychosis and religion in some cases (to the point where the DSM specifically makes an exception for religious experience in the definition of psychosis).

I think we should at least be cautious about deeming these people "delusional" as such. Or rather, "delusional" as so many other things, is a spectrum, and many, many things fall on that spectrum.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:10 PM on July 9, 2015 [20 favorites]


i don't really understand what separates self described vampires from people who believe in certain non-standard medical practices or non-mainstream religious beliefs. if they're hurting other people, if they're exhibiting dangerous to themselves or others types of delusions, then ok - work from there. but people who generally incorporate neo-pagan beliefs with some lifeforce psychic healing stuff? who does that hurt? how does being further stigmatized from medical practitioners help them? if they have issues above and beyond some cosplay alternative medicine beliefs, why not focus on those and leave the vampire stuff alone?
posted by nadawi at 5:11 PM on July 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


Have you ever felt completely drained after talking to someone for ten minutes? That's an "energy vampire". Psychic/Pranic/Qi energy isn't a real thing, but it might be a conceptual category that contains things like microagressions.

I've dealth with “energy vampires”, but I haven't assumed that they've gained energy from the transaction. Are we saying that self-identified vampires who claim to benefit from psychic energy are deliberately acting like jerks in order to get attention? I guess I'm just trying to figure out how these people do their feeding.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: "We got plenty of Edward Cullen-style vampires, but where are the people that self-identify as Nosferatu?"

Most vampire lifestylers, being as they often are of goth backgrounds, would probably drink your dry for that Eward Cullen comment. Many goths are, in image and fashion sense, at least closer to Nosferatu than to Twilight.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


oooor what Joakim Ziegler was saying better than me while i was hitting post.
posted by nadawi at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I would have filed something like this under 'cultural practice alien to my experience'.
posted by mikurski at 5:13 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


something about this being in an academic journal "dedicated to social justice" doesn't sit well with me.

Why? I mean they are social workers after all.

The bigger issue is that they include the first author's Master's Degree as a credential, when the author already has a PhD. I mean, cmon people.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:17 PM on July 9, 2015


five fresh fish: "I imagine they're in the same boat as people who fall in love with the Eiffel tower,"

Object sexuality is increasingly not considered a "delusion" either, actually, but a specific sexual paraphilia, at least, and research is moving towards it being a genuine minority sexual orientation. Apparently many people who are object sexual are also on the autism spectrum, though, which might make you more or less sympathetic to it as a sexual orientation vs. a delusion, depending on where you come down on the "non-neurotypical" debate and whatnot.

In general, I think we should probably leave people the fuck alone and let them do what they want and be who they want to be as long as they're not hurting anyone, at least anyone not a willingly participating adult. I'm uncomfortable with this rush to medicalize everything.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:18 PM on July 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


Going to Maine, the article (last link) gives the distinct impression that feeding is consensual (though they only really talk about blood, not psychic feeding).

Though really that article could be summarized as "being a jerk to your clients is not helpful, even if they believe something kooky", which is a little ironic given most of the comments in this post. Real vampirism seems firmly in the category of "not something I've run into and odd by my standards but harmless".
posted by hoyland at 5:19 PM on July 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


*makes a face* I have been on the other end of this... not so much with respect to identifying myself as a vampire (because oh fuck no), but with respect to being ace and being that one weird person who says things about the way they experience the world that make your average health practitioner's head spin. I mean, I'm not interested in sex, that's pretty out there--and I have absolutely seen that mentioned in the same breath as people who are attracted to buildings or amputee fetishists. So on the one hand, I have some sympathy for the vampire lifestylists, in that it really sucks to be constantly made fun of and/or have to keep an important aspect of your life secret.

On the other hand, I am not exactly thrilled at the notion of reifying this as a thing that really does exist, which muddies the waters for people who become briefly confused and might help reinforce misconceptions about effective treatments for fatigue/what happens when you drink blood/the existence of actualfax vampires/whether you can suck energy from someone else's 'aura.' This stuff appears to me to be a weird mixture of kink/goth subculture and, well, a cult. As with nadawi, as long as they aren't hurting anyone knock themselves out... but, you know, as with other forms of woo etc. that are out there, if it started getting widely promoted as a real thing I'd want to do some voice-of-reason pushing back.

That said, I think best practices should really be training health care workers (including mental health care workers) to be relatively nonjudgmental and not address anything related to the patient unless it's actually causing harm to the patient and/or is perceived as an actual problem by the patient. You can side-eye all you want internally, but if you're dealing with a patient who is struggling with depression or whatever you have to focus on the issues that are actually a problem for that person. Making people feel judged is a really good way to prevent them from accessing health care--save the pushback for people who are working in public health or social acquaintances or whatever. They can hear that shit elsewhere.
posted by sciatrix at 5:19 PM on July 9, 2015 [34 favorites]


hoyland: "Going to Maine, the article (last link) gives the distinct impression that feeding is consensual (though they only really talk about blood, not psychic feeding). "

Psychic feeding on someone who's not a willing participant is probably about as abusive as making a voodoo doll of someone, that is, if you don't believe in it, it has zero effect.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:20 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


i've known some vampire folk and their "feeding" was either literal - they had partners that were sometimes sexual partners and sometimes not - a wound would be caused and then the person would feed - sometimes this was mutual and sometimes it was a D/s situation. some people would only blood bond with one person, some were poly with it.

as far as the psychic energy stuff - that was either the belief that they took on some of their partner's lifeforce when drinking their blood, and/or a belief very close to auras - where you can "sense" whether or not someone is safe to be around or whatever and that around the right type of aura like things you can actually become bigger brighter stronger whatever. that second one is mostly a lot of fancy words for something most of us do when we make friends or choose who to spend our time with - some people drain us others energize us.
posted by nadawi at 5:20 PM on July 9, 2015


But that's ridiculous. Stop using delusion in quotes as if there's a question here. Actualky believing you are really a vampire is delusional. There's no gray area. Vampires are not real things. You are not one.

That doesn't mean we should round these people up, but it's absurd to see people in this thread defend this as akin to dressing punk or something.
posted by Sangermaine at 5:20 PM on July 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


Which is to say, what hoyden said much more succinctly.
posted by sciatrix at 5:21 PM on July 9, 2015


.This is a delusion, not an identity.

The Christian believes Jesus is God. The Muslim believes Jesus is not God but is a messenger of God. The atheist believes neither. At most one of these three views corresponds with reality yet all three are identities.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:22 PM on July 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


oh, and every vampire i've known was super duper serious about testing and cleanliness and watching out for infections and not sharing blood with someone who might be sick, etc. in fact, quite a few of them had issues with needing a certain level of cleanliness, including issues about their own body hair, but that's a fairly mainstream goth thing in some circles, in my experience.
posted by nadawi at 5:23 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Real vampirism seems firmly in the category of "not something I've run into and odd by my standards but harmless".

Personally I'd draw the line at blood drinking.

Most of the time the line between a medical problem and something that just not typical is whether it interferes with normal living, is immoral or presents a real danger to someone.

Hearing voices might be OK as long as they're not, say, telling you to kill people, which is where it becomes an issue. Mild autism is something that people don't need to necessarily be cured of. Complete non-verbal autism needs intervention. (end of possibly bad analogies)

I don't think being a "real vampire" is that great a thing to do but yes, as a general moral principle I'm willing to let other people make weird (IMO) decisions. But drinking blood, perhaps compulsively... that's problematic.
posted by GuyZero at 5:28 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


it seems like the respect that was asked for with regard to minority beliefs can be applied here.
posted by nadawi at 5:28 PM on July 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


save alive nothing that breatheth,

Without getting into the touchy subject of spiritual beliefs, believing that you are Jesus or an angel or other entity is generally also viewed as a delusion.
posted by Sangermaine at 5:28 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Which is to say, what hoyden said much more succinctly.

fuck, hoyland, I meant hoyland. D: Sorry about that.

posted by sciatrix at 5:32 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


mormon men believe they will be a god one day if they are very righteous. very few people put forward that they are suffering a mass delusion (well, anymore). nearly all mainstream christians believe they were or will be angels - no harm there as far as i can tell. as a little girl i was positive that jesus told me where to find my lost hamster because i prayed to him using exactly the right form.

with spiritual beliefs, the line between belief and delusion is how acceptable it is to the mainstream to hold that view.
posted by nadawi at 5:34 PM on July 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


Is vampirism a spiritual belief if you say it is?
posted by clavdivs at 5:36 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


If these people believe that drinking blood will make them immortal, *that's* delusional. If they believe that it is uniquely satisfying for them, it's more of a fetish.
posted by Maias at 5:39 PM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


i'm sure some vampires think they'll become immortal, but all the ones i've known think it's more like drinking blessed water or something - that maybe it has healing powers or heals their souls or something, they might think it will keep them from dying young, but none of them were "we're gonna live forever like an anne rice novel" or anything.
posted by nadawi at 5:42 PM on July 9, 2015


Is vampirism a spiritual belief if you say it is?
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
John 6:53-58.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:45 PM on July 9, 2015 [29 favorites]


If these people believe that drinking blood will make them immortal, *that's* delusional.

Are you consistent in that application?

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
posted by Justinian at 5:45 PM on July 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


jinx
posted by Justinian at 5:46 PM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've dealth with “energy vampires”, but I haven't assumed that they've gained energy from the transaction. Are we saying that self-identified vampires who claim to benefit from psychic energy are deliberately acting like jerks in order to get attention? I guess I'm just trying to figure out how these people do their feeding.
I can think of people who:

1. I find draining to interact with, and they find me draining to interact with.
2. I find draining to interact with, and they find me energizing to interact with.
3. I find energizing to interact with, and they find me draining to interact with.
4. I find energizing to interact with, and they find me energizing to interact with.

I suspect that all of this can be explained with perfectly mundane social dynamics. Energy vampirism is probably a dramatic metaphor most of the time. It is a good thing for people who believe that they are vampires to be able to get respectful professional help. But I'm not a mental health professional, and if you identify as a vampire I will probably laugh at you behind your back. (but not for long, more of a slight chuckle)

Now the real question is: Jesus, zombie king of vampires?
posted by b1tr0t at 5:53 PM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


...not to mention Scientologists.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:58 PM on July 9, 2015


"Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh."
-Deuternomy.
posted by clavdivs at 5:58 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Given that vampires are, in most mythologies supernatural beings, I can totally see how this could be classed under religiosity. The fact that it seems weirder on its face than believing you are a many-times-reincarnated soul or the dualistic merging of flesh and spirit is, I think, down to historical contingency.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:58 PM on July 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


The reason this bothers me so much is because lumping delusions like these under "social justice" belittles and undermines actual social justice issues.

People with non-standard sexuality or gender identification already have a history of being called mentally ill. Putting people with actual sexuality and gender questions together with people who think they are vampires or dragon otherkin or whatever, people who really are mentally ill, only makes it that much harder to get the mainstream to accept and take seriously the people with real concerns.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:01 PM on July 9, 2015 [24 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this article wasn't written so that everyone could talk about how messed up and delusional these people are. The point of all of this is that a group of people are scared to speak to social workers and mental health professionals about their beliefs because of how they'll be treated.

In this context, talking about people being delusional isn't constructive; the conversation becomes one about whether or not these beliefs are justified, when the real issue is whether or not they should be able to feel comfortable talking to people who are supposed to be there to help them. Yes, "diagnosis of mental illness" was one of the concerns, but they also mention disgust and ridicule. Maybe rather than determining, from a distance, who is and isn't mentally ill, we can instead look at the stigma and ridicule that can accompany diagnosis? If people feel uncomfortable speaking about self-identity with a helping professional for fear of ridicule, then there is a failure of communication, and saying "but they really are delusional" doesn't help.
posted by teponaztli at 6:04 PM on July 9, 2015 [27 favorites]


Cortes named bats from South America, "vampire bats"

Cortes, patron saint (myth maker) of blood sucking bats and new world genocide!
posted by clavdivs at 6:05 PM on July 9, 2015


The reason this bothers me so much is because lumping delusions like these under "social justice" belittles and undermines actual social justice issues.

I lean towards agreeing with you but I have enough historical awareness to be uncomfortable with that argument because its exactly the argument a bunch of people use to argue against almost any expansion of what we see as social justice. I mean we just went through the "the gay rights movement isn't like the civil rights movement!" phase over the last few years.

What we consider a mental illness and what we consider an identity shifts over time.
posted by Justinian at 6:06 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


What we consider a mental illness and what we consider an identity shifts over time.

Whether vampires are real or not doesn't. This isn't something that society is going to come to realize is true someday.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:07 PM on July 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


My general principle - if people are doing weird stuff, but it's harmless, who cares?
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:09 PM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


So what's the take away? These people are weird, they probably have serious issues if they genuinely believe that they are actual vampires,but they aren't hurting anyone, so who cares? This is no different than pyschics or white light or crystals or whatever crazy ad hocism people take up.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:10 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


"The point of all of this is that a group of people are scared to speak to social workers and mental health professionals about their beliefs because of how they'll be treated"

I buy that. Seems like a real concern and there is something to be said by addressing this issue from a mental health perspective then from 1000 years of mythological labels and media.
posted by clavdivs at 6:12 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is this Critical Social Work a discredditted anti-social justice journal that I should not consider a worthy forum for academic opinion on topics of social justice and social work? Not that it'd change my view on the peculiar and apparent need some have to demarcate lines of behavioral acceptability and to diagnose groups of strangers as delusional, but it would certainly help me understand where some folks are coming from.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 6:12 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


when i was a little girl all of the adult men in my religion carried around a small vile of blessed olive oil, always a specific brand, and when someone was ill, or stressed, or otherwise in need, somewhere between one and five of these men would put dots of the sacred oil on my head and lay their hands on my head and say a special incantation to get me powers from an all powerful deity. if i were to stay with that group longer than i did, i would have received a special incantation that would have predicted my future.

i just described the mormon practice of laying on of hands and the patriarchal blessing. are they left of center beliefs for many? sure. are they delusions? well i don't know how you can define them in that way without throwing away all religious practices. just because you think something is woo doesn't make it invalid for other people to find comfort in the rituals - especially if they aren't hurting anyone, especially if the context of the conversation is receiving competent and respectful medical care.
posted by nadawi at 6:12 PM on July 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, the "I'm uncomfortable with this because it lumps in people with real mental problems with actual identities" thing is remarkably tone-deaf and lacking in history. That's what people said about gay people when civil rights were the "real" issue, it's what people said about gay people again when women's rights were the "real" issue", that's what people said about trans people when gay rights were the "real" issue (actually, TERFs I used to be friends with on FB still use basically this argument against trans people), and so on.

We've basically always been really fucking good at saying "civil rights extends to this group here, and everyone beyond is a mental case". That history might make it at least pertinent to stop and think for a second.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:14 PM on July 9, 2015 [24 favorites]


with spiritual beliefs, the line between belief and delusion is how acceptable it is to the mainstream to hold that view.


... persistent belief that deviates from consensus reality is pretty much the standard definition of delusion. The thing about "spiritual" beliefs in particular is that a lot of them cannot be empirically tested one way or the other, which makes "delusion" a less appropriate term. Except then you get into spiritual beliefs that sort of touch on physical reality and things (and people) get touchy.
posted by atoxyl at 6:14 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Joakim Ziegler

I see. If I'm understanding this right, you are saying that we may be excluding vampires from their rightful place in the civil rights movement?

This is a historical risk I'm willing to take. If you can't understand how real issues like homosexuality and trans identity and women's rights are not the same thing as people literally believing they are mythical creatures, I'm not sure what else can be said.

That seems massively insulting to those real issues.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:16 PM on July 9, 2015 [48 favorites]


Well, I too have those little holy land four packs of oil, water, frankenscence and dirt. I have like 8 of them from folks who went to the holy land. I also have an old 'break glass in case of emergency' box that I keep them in.
I don't think its purly delusional, just problematic.
posted by clavdivs at 6:19 PM on July 9, 2015


i really can only speak to my experience, and i'm sure there are exceptions all over the place - but i've never known a vampire (or a furry/otherkin for that matter) who weren't also queer in some way. i have my own theories about why those are directions they choose to hang their identity or spiritualism on, but i can say the same for most other people in my life who reach for a bigger meaning to this big blue marble. most of them have also had a chronic illness of some sort. the people i've known who fall in these categories need acceptance and respect from their medical providers more than most and they're being denied that. quibbling over how applicable it is to label it social justice seems to be missing the point.
posted by nadawi at 6:25 PM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Very interesting article. In the 20th and 21st centuries, anyway, vampire literature and popular entertainmemt has had a strong following among people who feel othered in society, such as LGBT folks. You have a character, often a protagonist, who looks like everyone around him, but he has this difference that he has to try to hide if he wants to fit in. It's something a lot of people who get treated as misfits can sympathize with.

I saw an interview with Jonathan Frid from back when Dark Shadows was on the air, in which he described his vampire character Barnabas Collins as "a man with a hangup" and the mad scientist character Dr. Julia Hoffman as "the vampire's analyst."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:35 PM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: oh, and every vampire i've known was super duper serious.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 6:37 PM on July 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


Real vampire music.
posted by chrchr at 6:43 PM on July 9, 2015


I can't talk a bank into a car loan and some people get others to give them blood? I chose the wrong career path methinks.
posted by shockingbluamp at 6:52 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Blood bank dollars aren't what they used too be.
posted by clavdivs at 6:54 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like I could offer an opinion here but I don't think I have a stake in it.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:56 PM on July 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


If you can't understand how real issues like homosexuality and trans identity and women's rights are not the same thing as people literally believing they are mythical creatures, I'm not sure what else can be said.

Speaking for myself, that's not how I read that argument at all. This is an article about access to professional help for people who are afraid of how they'll be treated, and it's applicable to all of mental health. It's not about saying trans identity and vampirism are the same thing, it's about the fact that there still exist groups of people who cannot speak frankly with mental health professionals out of fear of being ostracized. Is that kind of treatment sometimes deserved or justifiable if it crosses a line? Is the issue just that they need to deal with it because they're wrong?
posted by teponaztli at 6:57 PM on July 9, 2015 [24 favorites]


People are people, regardless of their ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, personal beliefs, or diet, yes?

If I have done nothing illegal (with regard to practitioner mandatory reporting), it should not be unreasonable for me to go to a doctor or therapist and expect to receive the same level of care as any other person would.

If I can't expect to get that level of care, that suggests an inequality that needs to be resolved, regardless of whether the solution is some kind of vampire rights act or just getting doctors used to the idea of 'you will see some weird stuff come into your office and you will have to be an ethical professional'.
posted by mikurski at 7:06 PM on July 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


I don't think vampires are real. But I also don't find it that difficult to understand that if someone self-identifies as a vampire (lifestyle or real) and also has a broken arm, if my response is to laugh at them, tell them that they are delusional and should be in the loony bin while totally ignoring their broken arm, that is not the most helpful response.

Plenty of people live with mental illnesses with varying levels of delusion attached. You don't have to buy into their delusion in order to treat them with respect, listen to what they are saying instead of dismissing them, and try to treat the problems they've come to ask about rather than telling them they have no idea what's really wrong and focusing solely on the thing they don't see as a problem. If their delusion is negatively affecting their life and/or the lives of people around them, sure, it needs to be addressed. But that still needs to be done with some compassion rather than ridicule.

I'm not a health professional, but I am a librarian. People come and ask for information on all kinds of topics, some of which sound to me really strange and out there. It is seriously not hard for me to separate my personal beliefs from my professional demeanour and behaviour and provide the assistance they've asked for. I don't think it's that different.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:09 PM on July 9, 2015 [31 favorites]


"I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this article wasn't written so that everyone could talk about how messed up and delusional these people are. The point of all of this is that a group of people are scared to speak to social workers and mental health professionals about their beliefs because of how they'll be treated.

In this context, talking about people being delusional isn't constructive; the conversation becomes one about whether or not these beliefs are justified, when the real issue is whether or not they should be able to feel comfortable talking to people who are supposed to be there to help them.
"

Right. It was written for a specialist audience, not a general audience. We are not their social workers and we have no responsibility toward their mental health. If I believe that someone considering themselves a "real vampire" is delusional, it will have no affect on their ability to receive social services.

"Yeah, the "I'm uncomfortable with this because it lumps in people with real mental problems with actual identities" thing is remarkably tone-deaf and lacking in history. That's what people said about gay people when civil rights were the "real" issue, it's what people said about gay people again when women's rights were the "real" issue", that's what people said about trans people when gay rights were the "real" issue (actually, TERFs I used to be friends with on FB still use basically this argument against trans people), and so on.

We've basically always been really fucking good at saying "civil rights extends to this group here, and everyone beyond is a mental case". That history might make it at least pertinent to stop and think for a second.
"

Aside from that being an ad hominem argument, it can be undermined pretty quickly by pointing out that the "real vampires" consider the "lifestyle vampires" to be mental cases. Those lifestyle vampires, they're not "real," authentic vampires!

Likewise, the comparison to faiths upthread is instructive in two ways: First off, many of those beliefs are flatly delusional. A child's belief that praying to Jesus in the acceptable form finds her hamster is magical thinking and delusional, though only harmful to the extent that it prevents her from taking non-magical actions to find the hamster herself. The comparison is one that a fair number of serious theologians make in laboring to separate faith from magical thinking — specifically the ability to distinguish symbolic language and underlying faith claims from material claims about the world. It's one of those reasons that historical legend and afterlife claims are less problematic than contemporary magical claims, something that too many faith leaders are uninterested in distinguishing.

Similarly, the harms that the "real vampires" are seeking to avoid are stigma and discrimination. But when we think about social identity, we can come up with more than a couple axes on which they may be distinguished. For example, there's a regularly voiced complaint that (fundamentalist) Christians or Republicans or racists are now being discriminated against or made to feel stigma for expressing their views — there's even a handful of papers that show some success with treating racism as a mental health problem. Is it bad that racists feel stigma for their views? No, not really. Is it bad that some Christians feel less comfortable voicing homophobic views? Nope. Even Republicans, a recurrent complaint on MetaFilter? Maybe, but not something I'm going to lose a lot of sleep over. We can distinguish those identities based on their mutability, their reasonableness, and their potential to inflict harm upon others. Simply declaring that "real vampires" track to trans people is insulting to trans people given that trans people actually exist, and the argument fails because it fails to recognize that not all identities are equal nor are they indistinguishable, and that it is legitimate to apply stigma and discrimination to some identities.

I don't really care if some folks consider themselves real vampires so long as they're not hurting anyone. Just like how I don't care that some Mormon dudes may believe they'll be gods after death. But the opinion that some people are "real vampires" and the opinion that "real vampires" are bullshit are at worst equal, and in that case both are fine to voice.
posted by klangklangston at 7:11 PM on July 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


Yeah, if anything, I think the voices in this thread expressing credulity at the concept of vampirism as a real phenomenon would be some of the first to advocate for mental health resources for all.

That also may be why some of us who remember the "isn't transgenderism basically like otherkin" bullshit from earlier threads might just be a touch wary of this newfound interest in "vampire rights" on mefi.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 7:17 PM on July 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't know how to frame this properly, so here it is: isn't the belief that you need the blood of others for energy pretty solid evidence of at least delusion, if not full on mental illness?

Mental illnesses don't work like that, and delusions are more complicated than that.

In the simplest terms - diagnosis of mental illness require significant distress, either felt or functional, on the part of the person suffering from it. I add in the functional for interesting edge-cases like people with grandiose delusions who gain pleasure from them but the delusions render them unable to hold a job or maintain housing; I worked with someone like that once and he was delightful. The people in question here wouldn't qualify so long as they were functional, and if they build a belief system around idiosyncratic assumptions, then that's what they did; how I would score it if I did a mental status examination on them would depend a lot on how they present.

In a larger context - yes, lots of people would (and in this thread have) automatically decide anything sufficiently different from their perceived norm as "mentally ill." Historically, this has been used to imprison/dismiss/minimize a wide variety of people for a wide variety of reasons. Patients rights started kicking in when people started deciding that just being different shouldn't be sufficient reason to be able to lock people up in institutions (Nelly Bly actually helped a lot with this through her journalism) and basic standards were put in place for removing peoples' liberty and right to self-determination. It makes my job harder - I can't just say "this person is off their medications, lock them up!" - but it protects my clients from me locking them up because I decide their belief that they might be a vampire is enough reason to remove their liberty. I'm ok with that, personally.

As for automatically calling something you don't believe a delusion.... the world is complicated, people are complicated, and psycho-somatic responses to symbolism is such a real and measurable effect that it is literally baked into psychological studies automatically (see: placebo / nocebo effect).

I would really recommend the people going "this is delusional so we should be able to do things to these people and/or dismiss them, right?" think about the larger context of what has been historically declared delusional, the limitations on what we can and do know, and speak with a bit more care and charity.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:18 PM on July 9, 2015 [30 favorites]


"this is delusional so we should be able to do things to these people and/or dismiss them, right?"

No one, myself included, has said this at all, and it's insulting to imply that we have. Show me a single instance of anyone here saying anything like this. If these people aren't hurting one, as said above, then let them alone. If they need help, give it to them. No one at all has said otherwise.

There is this bizarre false dichotomy on display in this thread that either you open your mind to vampires or you're gung-ho about rounding people up and tossing them into the "loony bin".
posted by Sangermaine at 7:22 PM on July 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


> That seems massively insulting to those real issues.

Speaking only for this dyke right here, I don't feel like working to lower barriers to care to people who are in need of care but feel ridiculed and threatened out of it is any kind of threat to me or mine. It hurts me not at all to take seriously the fact that they believe what they believe (even if I think that belief is, uh, not in compliance with the reality I live in), and they deserve decent mental health and other medical care.
posted by rtha at 7:23 PM on July 9, 2015 [35 favorites]


either you open your mind to vampires

I think the point you're passing over is not that they are vampires (because if they really were, I'm sure you would be arguing that they're a protected class), but that they think they are, and regardless of what a person thinks, that person should still be able to see a therapist or doctor if they need to.
posted by mikurski at 7:28 PM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Right, but where have I or anyone here disagreed with that point? Of course they should have access to care if they need or want it.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:29 PM on July 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


I would really recommend the people going "this is delusional so we should be able to do things to these people and/or dismiss them, right?"

...
posted by Xavier Xavier at 7:30 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


But you support the idea that these beliefs and the people who hold them should be ridiculed?
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:31 PM on July 9, 2015


Zero people here have said either of those things you just made up.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 7:31 PM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


> We shouldn't be enabling their delusions by treating them as if they're an actual oppressed group.
> this newfound interest in "vampire rights"

Also I don't think anyone in this thread is suggesting that vampires are the new group of oppressed people whose rights need to be championed, nor do I think TFA is suggesting that. I think there are a lot of people saying that people need to be treated like humans (see what I did there?) by their health professionals, regardless of their personal belief system and how delusional, unfamiliar, strange, or wrong it may be.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:33 PM on July 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: "Cool Papa Bell: "We got plenty of Edward Cullen-style vampires, but where are the people that self-identify as Nosferatu?"

Most vampire lifestylers, being as they often are of goth backgrounds, would probably drink your dry for that Eward Cullen comment. Many goths are, in image and fashion sense, at least closer to Nosferatu than to Twilight.
"

Don't you mean closer to Nosferatu than Toreador? And really though, isn't half the glamor of being a vampire being a Toreador? Maybe a Brujah or Gangrel has some cache, too. Personally, I was more into being Malkavian. and fuck that nWoD crap.
posted by symbioid at 7:33 PM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is devolving into parody.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 7:35 PM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


> Right, but where have I or anyone here disagreed with that point? Of course they should have access to care if they need or want it.

Your first comment:

> We already have terms for that. They're not "vampire".

Sure people need to be able to express themselves, but these people are delusional. We shouldn't be enabling their delusions by treating them as if they're an actual oppressed group.


You've categorized them as having mental health issues. People with mental health issues are, in the US, an oppressed group. Things are changing, slowly, but there is stigma and shame and dismissal of people who want care, and comments like this don't really help change this.
posted by rtha at 7:35 PM on July 9, 2015 [19 favorites]


it had been suggested that these people should solely be approached as delusional, in a thread about their healthcare, so yeah, i read that as saying they shouldn't receive healthcare that is respectful of their beliefs.
posted by nadawi at 7:36 PM on July 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


The reason this bothers me so much is because lumping delusions like these under "social justice" belittles and undermines actual social justice issues.

No, it doesn't. Ableism is a very real thing, and people diagnosed with mental illnesses get dismissed out of hand all of the time. Laypeople who use "mental illness" as a reason to dismiss people and judge/ridicule them contributes to ableism, as it both reinforces that people with mental illnesses should be dismissed and not treated well, and it uses mental illness as a way to dismiss people that deviate from the norm in ways the people using the term "mental illness" this way don't like.

Please feel free to say "I don't like people who think they're vampires! They suck!" but stop using "mental illness" as your reason for dismissing them, and stop using "delusional" instead of "I don't agree with what they think is real".
posted by Deoridhe at 7:37 PM on July 9, 2015 [32 favorites]


Hearing voices might be OK as long as they're not, say, telling you to kill people, which is where it becomes an issue.

Actually, this isn't quite accurate. Firstly, those are called command hallucinations, which differentiate them from the half-dozen other types of hallucination which exist. I have worked with clients who heard voices telling them do kill people - in one case the voice was telling them to kill me; that was an interesting few months.

Spoiler: He never killed me! Didn't even try!

In practice, we assess for how likely the person is to act on that voice, and cases of people actually acting on that sort of command hallucination is pretty rare. Like suicidal ideation, homicidal ideation can be planned for through safety plans, and I've dealt with both in a professional capacity. There are some more fiddly bits of laws that are state specific, but there's a reason we take classes on these things and get regular refreshers.

I do work with clients who have command hallucinations to practice not obeying them, but that's even for relatively benign ones because it's not healthy for them to automatically obey anyone, including me, and I'm trying to teach them independence, even from me.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:37 PM on July 9, 2015 [24 favorites]


"A child's belief that praying to Jesus in the acceptable form finds her hamster is magical thinking and delusional, though only harmful to the extent that it prevents her from taking non-magical actions to find the hamster herself"

In seasons 3 and 4 of 'The Walking Dead', there is a young character who does not except that the zombies are dangerous and even feeds them rats, endangering the group. This "delusion" of afterlife compels the child to kill in order to test the "theory" which does not work and the character is shot not for her belief but for the danger in that belief.
posted by clavdivs at 7:44 PM on July 9, 2015


Williams and another researcher based the paper on the responses of 11 people who had identified themselves as vampires for many years and could be relied on to be open and honest, and who gain permission from practicing adults before ingesting their blood.

........the methodology here of this "study" is so paper thin that to even have any sort of debate about the "findings" seems like a silly exercise at best.
....that's even before you realize that the "findings" are reported in the article in poetic verse.
posted by Karaage at 7:48 PM on July 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


i actually found the hamster because I was kneeling next to the drawers under my bed where he had crawled to take a nap. he woke up while I was praying and started scratching at the drawer. while i am a total atheist, i'm supportive of the idea that opening yourself to faith can lead to positive results, even if i don't believe the mythos behind it anymore.
posted by nadawi at 7:50 PM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


There's an awful lot of cis people in this thread lecturing us about tolerating vampirism as a real thing (especially under the rubric of "ableism," of all things). I find this disturbing. You're, of course, free to disagree, but forgive me for finding this a sad call-back to repeated and earlier issues on this site.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 7:53 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Have you considered secular animism, nadawi? We believe that all religions are equally silly, but also that it's okay to be silly if it keeps you from turning into a withered husk of the person you once were.
posted by mikurski at 7:55 PM on July 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


No one is advocating tolerating vampirism as a real thing. People are advocating a model of professional ethics for doctors that includes not mocking self-professed vampires for their beliefs when they show up to access health care. The idea is that if anyone is going to call them delusional, their medical providers are probably the worst-positioned people to do so as long as they're not a danger to themselves or others. The idea is also that the stigma of mocking them as delusional prevents them from seeking help in a highly counterproductive way.

But I appreciate the dichotomy you're pushing as "they're delusional wtf" vs "vampire rights are the next big frontier for social justice warriors" there. Really helpful there.
posted by sciatrix at 7:57 PM on July 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Again: literally nobody in this thread has come out against what you're talking about. Really helpful, there.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 7:59 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


guys this study we're arguing about has a sample size of 11 people
posted by Karaage at 8:00 PM on July 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


for whatever it's worth, i am not cis, and i think any comparisons of this to trans issues is a derail. you can think people should be left alone about their non harmful spiritual beliefs and think being trans is a totally different thing that isn't merely a belief.
posted by nadawi at 8:02 PM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


> There's an awful lot of cis people in this thread lecturing us about tolerating vampirism as a real thing

Huh? First of all, how do you know who is/isn't cis? Second of all, why does that matter in a discussion about a study with an extremely small sample size of self-identified vampires? And third of all, who's actually saying they think vampires and vampirism are real? You seem to be getting upset about things that aren't actually happening.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:08 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I apologize. I may have a short fuse on this.

I've just seen threads here go sideways once some commenters start conflating trans folks with (and I quote) otherkin, "transracial" persons, etc. I never defended denying medical care to anyone. I'm just wary of the usual backlash whenever advances are made. Forgive me for being on guard when talk of vampires as a protected class (ironically or no) just so happens to happen in the wake of major civil rights advances for me and mine and people I care deeply about.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 8:08 PM on July 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Again: literally nobody in this thread has come out against what you're talking about. Really helpful, there.

So what the hell ARE you arguing for? Why does this particular delusion raise people's ire, while much more harmful ones get a pass?

The people arguing that "I don't have a problem with "these people" sure as he'll sound like they're massively offended by the very existence of vampires. If not, then explain what the actual issue is.
posted by happyroach at 8:10 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


But all the ones i've known think it's more like drinking blessed water or something

You've mentioned several times that you've know a decent number of vampires. Have you known 11 or more? Because that would arguably make you competitive with this study. (Though also, obviously, not representative.)
posted by Going To Maine at 8:12 PM on July 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Fair enough, Xavier. For what it's worth, I don't think anyone here is seriously advocating for protected class status for self-identified vampires. At least, I'm certainly not.
posted by sciatrix at 8:13 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


[I'm sorry I didn't explicitly say it sooner, but this thread really REALLY needs to stick to its own subject and not become a thread about trans issues by proxy. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 8:29 PM on July 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


> There's an awful lot of cis people in this thread lecturing us about tolerating vampirism as a real thing (especially under the rubric of "ableism," of all things)

Wow, that's really not what Deoridhe was talking about.
posted by rtha at 8:30 PM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


"People are advocating a model of professional ethics for doctors that includes not mocking self-professed vampires for their beliefs when they show up to access health care"

Doctor/ patient confidentiality is a protected status by law.
posted by clavdivs at 8:35 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think equating this with trans or gay rights is apt. I also don't think that vampirism needs to be in any way equal to some other group to recieve empathy and access to care. Note also the tone of the article, which I sense many have not read "while mental health professionals can easily become immersed in the diagnostic labels and various techniques given to a patient, it is a simple act of human kindness and compassion of being with a struggling fellow human being, in this case shown by a housekeeper, that marks the turning point toward healing."

I came to this thread interested in (to paraphrase the article) discussing and learning more about alternative identities and communities, listening and learning from others while striving to become more aware of our own potential biases and stereotypes, and interrogating and challenging common social discourses that pathologize and demonize.

Given, I am not a specialist in the audience for this article -- as klangklangston points out few of us are. All the same I share some sentiment with those specialists. Also, I'm no vampire but I have encountered them so it's easy to see them as people I guess.

If the intent of others this thread is to demonstrate to the sorts of folks described in the linked paper that they have real cause for concern about being demonized, pathologized and medicalized in talking about their experience then I guess it's a success, even though most of us probably aren't social workers.

I truly don't see what's to be gained by calling these people delusional. I think we can all tell this is a different lifestyle and view of the world than many of us know. The article recognizes it, so why come roaring through disclaiming the delusion of these people? Does it score you sanity points for figuring out who maybe isn't?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 8:40 PM on July 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


> Doctor/ patient confidentiality is a protected status by law.

Confidentiality doesn't have anything to do with access to care, or even with not shaming people once they are in care.
posted by rtha at 8:43 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know, for example.
"Porphyria has been suggested as an explanation for the origin of vampire and werewolf legends, based upon certain perceived similarities between the condition and the folklore...The theory has been rejected by a few folklorists and researchers as not accurately describing the characteristics of the original werewolf and vampire legends or the disease and for potentially stigmatizing sufferers of porphyria."
posted by clavdivs at 8:44 PM on July 9, 2015


I actually was arguing that people who believe they are vampires are not a priori mentally ill, and conflating them with people who are diagnosed as mentally ill serves to reinforce ableism against my clients, especially in conjunction with mocking people who believe they are vampires by calling them mentally ill/delusional.

Frankly, laypeople should neither be diagnosing people with mental illnesses nor making proclamations about what qualifies something as a symptom of a mental illness. I am beyond tired of people registering theirs dislike of something that someone else believes by calling it "delusional."

Be honest about your dislike, say you think they are wrong or whatever you like, but leave mentally ill people and their symptoms out of it.
posted by Deoridhe at 8:44 PM on July 9, 2015 [30 favorites]


So can we get a gallery of real life for real vampires with their tongues stuck out and call it blehhp?
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 8:48 PM on July 9, 2015


And it does, if that patient can prove that shaming before the Doctors review board. So it still applies, it protects the doctor and patient.
posted by clavdivs at 8:48 PM on July 9, 2015


What? It is not a violation of confidentiality to stigmatize people who aren't even your patients, and neither is it to shame the patient. I'm not talking about a doctor mocking a patient behind their back. I'm talking about a health care provider dismissing/shaming/otherwise being a jerk to the patient once they are in care. I have no idea what point you're trying to make with the porphyria reference.
posted by rtha at 8:55 PM on July 9, 2015


In seasons 3 and 4 of 'The Walking Dead', there is a young character who does not except that the zombies are dangerous and even feeds them rats, endangering the group. This "delusion" of afterlife compels the child to kill in order to test the "theory" which does not work and the character is shot not for her belief but for the danger in that belief.

From vampires to zombies in less than forty comments. Beautiful.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:56 PM on July 9, 2015


I first heard of psychic energy vampires from this excerpt in the Satanic Bible.

Spoiler alert: LaVey warned *against* them.
posted by koakuma at 9:02 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


And it does, if that patient can prove that shaming before the Doctors review board. So it still applies, it protects the doctor and patient.

Ableism exists within those contexts. Doctors routinely dismiss what people diagnosed with mental illnesses say, especially if they're diagnosed with one of the delusional disorders like schizophrenia. My supervisor once had her wrist broken by a client; the treatment she received for her wrist was sub-par and the doctors and nurses she dealt with were dismissive of what she said and didn't communicate well with her. It didn't make sense to her until she saw her chart and realized they had labeled HER mentally ill in error in the narrative (the client and circumstances had to be identified because it was a workman's comp situation where she was injured on the job).

One of my co-workers dismissed a claim one of our shared clients made about a family trip because most of our clients are abandoned by their families and not included in vacations, and delusions about something nice that's going to happen in a month or two are depressingly common. I learned a lesson in humility, not dismissing what my clients said, and not assuming everything a client with a delusional disorder says is a delusion when I met her sibling as they were leaving to go on vacation for several weeks.

Another client with a delusional disorder - it took several years, a couple of broken bones, and two weeks in a hospital to get his medical medication reduced so he wasn't passing out constantly. His problems were dismissed due to his mental confusion, and even my repeated attempts to advocate for him did nothing in the face of a doctor's indifference.

Clients with mental illnesses are at the mercy of a lot of people. Their credibility is regularly undermined, even by people who should know better. The general population often use them as a punch line or a tool to insult people who they disagree with. I think you're over-estimating the ability of review boards to ameliorate this problem.
posted by Deoridhe at 9:04 PM on July 9, 2015 [46 favorites]


I'm not talking about a doctor mocking a patient behind their back.

I am. (Or to the patients face) Any worker discussing case files in such a manner should be fired at the least.
posted by clavdivs at 9:15 PM on July 9, 2015


Historically, the practice of vampirism is marked with no postive influence. If fact, the whole Dracula business is just a reason to dehumanize Tepes as a traitor to all faiths save his own. I would think that the stakes and Boyarism would be enough but they turned the dude into a mythical demon who even betrays the Sultan.
posted by clavdivs at 9:30 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm on board with respecting people's harmless delusions/commitments, so long as they're harmless. If the actual reason a particular vampire is "very, very tired" is related to some undiagnosed medical condition, and the content of their beliefs interferes with evaluation for that condition, that's clearly harmful. But it's not like it's something that can even be addressed if fear of stigma means they don't even make it to the door. And I guess the nature of their activities also exposes them to risks others don't experience, so it's probably an important thing to feel safe about disclosing.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:33 PM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


> I am. (Or to the patients face) Any worker discussing case files in such a manner should be fired at the least.

I'm talking about what doctor-patient confidentiality is, not what it should be; it does not prevent the things you seem to think it does (or ought to). All it means is a patient's medical info can't be disclosed to third parties without the patient's consent; it means nothing regarding a doctor being disrespectful to the patient or about the patient if they don't discuss a diagnosis or name (though both of those may be covered by other regulations). And it still does nothing for people who aren't patients.
posted by rtha at 9:42 PM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


And god, but what I silly derail and I apologize for furthering it.
posted by rtha at 9:46 PM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Deoridhe: "One of my co-workers dismissed a claim one of our shared clients made about a family trip because most of our clients are abandoned by their families and not included in vacations, and delusions about something nice that's going to happen in a month or two are depressingly common."

This must be one of the most heartbreaking things I've read in a long, long time. Both that these delusions are common, and that someone dismisses a real claim because of how common the delusion is.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:00 PM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


I suppose how people approach this depends on your mental model of mental health practice. People often seem to believe that the therapist or psychiatrist should be in charge when helping a person, like a parent with a child.

but honestly, mental illness is like any illness. Sure, some people can't make decisions for themselves, but the vast majority of ill people can and should decide what they want to be treated for, and the health practioner is a partner and expert, not the person making the decisions.

If you have a mental health problem like depression, and believe your a vampire, and you seek treatment only to have people focus on the vampirism... that's like if you went into the gym and got a personal trainer and told them, "hey I want to build upper body strength" and they focused on your thigh fat, or maybe if your mechanic insisted on painting your car, when you were having engine trouble.

Vampirism may be a coping strategy, or a delusion, or an identity. It doesn't really matter . It's a little out of the ordinary even for me, and I'm fairly broadminded, but then many people find goths, larpers, ICP fans, sex workers and other groups to be out of the ordinary. If you go and seek health care, providers should work to treat the issue you wish help with, and only care about other issues if they feel that you may be a danger to yourself or others.
posted by gryftir at 10:14 PM on July 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


An old friend and former landlord of mine was (and probably still is) a self-identified, blood-drinking vampire. So were a handful of folks I went to undergrad with. All of these people were smart and basically good of heart, and most of them were also dealing with constellations of emotional, physiological, and personal issues that were were at times astonishingly intense and stressful.

In my experience, people don't just wake up one morning and think, "Well, I've finished my laundry, so I guess it's time to go out and put my heart and soul into something truly stupid! Yeah! That'll make things nice and difficult for everyone close to me! Plus it'll potentially fuck up future professional and familial relationships, so that's double awesome-sauce!" These people are like anyone else: they're trying to figure themselves out, using the evidence of their senses, and evidence gleaned from lived experience. They're trying to find a way to fit happily and peacefully into their world. Some of us are lucky enough to get what we need from hobbies, or professions, or from non-stigmatized forms of spirituality, or from family or friends. Other people have stranger and more difficult paths. What on earth good does it do to judge them for it?

Also, here's a little pro-tip about delusions: When you're trying to connect with a person who is in the grip of a truly dominating fantasy, you'll get absolutely nowhere by fighting their beliefs. You have to meet them where they are. That doesn't mean it's always impossible to get them to walk back from it a bit, but doing that takes a hell of a lot of grace and a hell of a lot of trust, and you will be in a position to wield neither if your first concern is making sure they know that the essential postulates by which they live their lives are wrong.

I don't see anyone in this thread saying that self-identified vampires should be treated as a protected class. I do see folks suggesting that self-identified vampires should be treated with basic human courtesy by their healthcare providers and others. What social good does ridicule do, that isn't far outweighed by the benefits of acting with compassion and a bit of humility?
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:24 PM on July 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


From TFA:
According to the results, real vampires reflect a variety of ages, religious and spiritual views, races and ethnicities, occupations, education levels, and sexual and gender identities. … Given that many participants occupy multiple positions of minority, and frequently marginalized status, it is important to recognize the concept of intersectionality (for a review, see Potter, 2012), which is particularly relevant herein.
Furthermore, this section matches my own experiences with them:
In contrast to the tremendous diversity of various lifestyle vampires, the essential feature of real vampirism is their belief in the need to take in “subtle energy” (called feeding) from time to time from a willing “donor” in order to maintain physical, psychological, and spiritual health. Real vampires report that without occasional feeding, their overall health and well-being suffer. Hence, the term vampirism is used to describe the feeding process. Real vampires may or may not find interest in mythical vampires or pop culture vampirism; these seem to be irrelevant to their self-identified vampirism (Laycock, 2010).
So in some sense the judgemental derail about "delusions" is a pure lack of understanding: they very often don't believe they're like vampires from the stories, they believe they're like themselves, which is a thing the vampires from the stories are partly based on, and embrace the mythology as a way of helping to understand themselves.

I've been back-and-forth on how much personal stuff I want to talk about here on this, not the least of which because this whole thread has demonstrated we've not learned much from the recent LOLWICCA thread. I will say I've never been a vampire, real or cultural or just goth-with-fangs or anything. But they, and a few other unusual subcultures, were instrumental in my discovering the wider world of ideas and philosophy outside my rural conservative upbringing. So I will say there's a connection between respecting vampires and respecting gay rights: the fundamental ground of respecting people and not letting oneself get wrapped up in "but this particular $THING is weird enough for me to bully them and grasp at straws to rationalize how the weirdness is their fault, right?" Some people don't take the time to learn that gay men aren't child molesters, others don't take the time to learn real vampires aren't often jumping off tall buildings while practicing turning into bats (or believing they've successfully done so, which would be closer to an actual delusion). Yeah one is more common, and probably more salient if you're worried about spending your social-justice energy thriftly.

But extending "don't be a jerk" to all peoples of any consensual lifestyle, subculture, clothing choice, or views toward reincarnation is just the golden rule.
posted by traveler_ at 12:28 AM on July 10, 2015 [28 favorites]


There was an FPP a while back, maybe about a year ago? Somewhere in that time frame... where for some reason or other I and several others came out as furries. And in the course of that thread, I saw MetaFilter move from having furries as one of the convenient punching bags to having some respect (or at least silence from those without respect) in this community. I think mainly because a lot of us that have been around for a while came out, and reevaluation of the previous negative attitudes had to be had.

Now, I'm not going to say that being a furry has me feeding on others, psychically or literally, and I'm not going to say that it really affects my life in any way that I feel is secretive or shameful. It's a source of fun for me, like a transparency overlay I can put on the world that makes moving through daily living a little less painful and that provides me with a community that regularly creates joy in my life.

This whole vampire thing, I don't have any identification with it at all. But I do identify with having an alternate identity, a mode of moving through the world that is out of sync with the majority of the population and one that is difficult to explain.

A lifetime of living as a gay man has also taught me lessons about how to feel shame and seek out the closet, and what it means to have to constantly make decisions about openness and honesty during daily trivial interactions. Also, about what it means to have to talk to a doctor whose face betrays him two sentences into a conversation and to realize that this is not going to go well from this point forward.

So, ya know... I dunno. I don't understand this vampire thing, but I have sympathy for anyone who feels like, in the times when they reach out for help, that the lens through which they view the world is a thing they have to lie about, and thus don't receive the full help they may require. So maybe it would be nice if people could just talk about how they see things without being labeled as The Other, so everyone could maybe live more healthy lives.
posted by hippybear at 1:33 AM on July 10, 2015 [46 favorites]


Hear hear, hippybear.
posted by Drexen at 4:25 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe the solution is to treat people with respect.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:50 AM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Quoting from the BACP's Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling & Psychotherapy (emphasis mine):

Practitioners should not allow their professional relationships with clients to be prejudiced by any personal views they may hold about lifestyle, age, gender, disability, gender reassignment, race, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, marriage and civil partnership or sex.

That's what someone presenting to a counsellor or psychotherapist should expect as part of their professional relationship, and indeed one of the core conditions for counselling/psychotherapy to be therapeutic is unconditional positive regard.

If anyone presenting for counselling or psychotherapy did not find this expectation met, it would be grounds for questioning the ethics and practice of the professional concerned, and something which should probably be reported to any professional bodies they are registered with.

I don't know if this principle is accepted as good practice for social workers and medical doctors, but in my opinion it certainly should be.
posted by walrus at 6:30 AM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


tl;dr - energy vampires are narcissists?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:59 AM on July 10, 2015


Apropos hippybear, it's interesting that in this thread we've had a few people show up who have apparently known folks who fall into this niche self-identification, one which -until this thread appeared- probably very few of us knew existed. I can imagine that kind of revelation going down differently in other spots. On the whole, I think it's actually gone pretty well.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:44 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


nadawi
I realize that bringing something like that to the table can be difficult for some, but as I think the vector of this thread has shown that it's a thread about being untreated or stigmatized by mental health professionals when potentially in need of help. That's exactly the situation Malone describes.
posted by shenkerism at 8:50 AM on July 10, 2015


I'm flashing back a bit to the recent thread about overweight people who couldn't get doctors to treat them for non-weight-related illnesses.

"Person A's doctor wouldn't her carpal tunnel syndrome, and said she wouldn't be in pain if she wasn't so fat."
"But Person A shouldn't be fat!"

"Person B needs help from a social worker, but the social worker can't get past the fact that person B identifies as a vampire."
"But Person B shouldn't identify as a vampire!"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:56 AM on July 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


--Practitioners should not allow their professional relationships with clients to be prejudiced by any personal views they may hold about lifestyle, age, gender, disability, gender reassignment, race, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, marriage and civil partnership or sex.

-That's what someone presenting to a counsellor or psychotherapist should expect as part of their professional relationship, and indeed one of the core conditions for counselling/psychotherapy to be therapeutic is unconditional positive regard.


Yeah, I had to stop seeing an otherwise great psychiatrist because of that. When I first started, he said he was fine with my atheism and it wouldn't come up in our sessions. Then, all of a sudden, he got religion and every session turned into a sermon about how all my problems were due to me drifting away from my religious roots. The last straw was when he started slipping Chick tracts into my prescriptions.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:02 AM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's exactly the situation Malone describes.

That particular commonality is the same, but that doesn't mean the situations are the same.
posted by Drexen at 9:49 AM on July 10, 2015


" So I will say there's a connection between respecting vampires and respecting gay rights: the fundamental ground of respecting people and not letting oneself get wrapped up in "but this particular $THING is weird enough for me to bully them and grasp at straws to rationalize how the weirdness is their fault, right?" Some people don't take the time to learn that gay men aren't child molesters, others don't take the time to learn real vampires aren't often jumping off tall buildings while practicing turning into bats (or believing they've successfully done so, which would be closer to an actual delusion)."

Except that the connection isn't necessary — it's a connection you feel, broadly, but there are plenty of people who don't think gay people are child molesters and still find the concept of "real vampires" as ridiculous. I will gladly work for gay (or straight or whatever) people's right to consider themselves vampires; I am not particularly troubled if they recognize that other people find that belief ridiculous unless there's some direct harm.

"Apropos hippybear, it's interesting that in this thread we've had a few people show up who have apparently known folks who fall into this niche self-identification, one which -until this thread appeared- probably very few of us knew existed."

I'm still (facebook) friends with a couple of people who identify as "real vampires" and they know that I think it's bullshit. I do things they think are bullshit. I've got Republican friends too, friends who are 9/11 truthers and friends who are fans of Ohio State. Maybe that's part of the difficulty — some folks just coming to this are working to articulate a tolerant philosophy over something new to them. For me, these are folks who I've known since I was 11 and used to hang out with at Denny's and smoke cloves and play Shadowrun. One of them is an absolutely brilliant programmer in a really niche area, and also believes in goofy nanotech homeopathy stuff that I'm not even going to get into describing because it's impossible to do it justice, but involves chiral transformations and vibrational water encoding. That he believes he has to drink human blood to maintain his creativity is not really even one of his weirder beliefs. I know his belief is sincere, but that doesn't mean I have to, or should, take it seriously.
posted by klangklangston at 9:51 AM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


klangklangston: "I know his belief is sincere, but that doesn't mean I have to, or should, take it seriously."

That depends entirely on what you mean by "take it seriously", which could range from "believe he's right" (which you're obviously in no way obligated to do) to "refrain from mocking him and telling him he's wrong and ridiculous at every turn" (you should definitely do this, refrain from mocking and so on, I mean).

Calling someone mentally ill for their beliefs to me falls in the "mocking" category, although it might also fall somewhat in the concern trolling category. Just respect people. If they believe something particularly outrageous that might also be harmful (quite a bit of alternative medicine and related stuff like anti-vax falls into this category), try gentle, respectful pushback. It's not actually that easy to treat people with beliefs and lifestyles radically different from your own with respect, lord knows I've had problems with this myself, but it's really, really worth trying.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:34 AM on July 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Maybe more to the point:

I don't consider them delusional--or at least, not particularly so, any more than the rest of us--but I'd like them more and probably feel more personal empathy for them if their self-identities were less obviously derived from romanticism and literary and pop culture and less obviously connected to fashion, style, and subculture.

You feel you need blood? Maybe you're a mosquito! (or a tick, or a leech...)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:36 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


How is self-identity being connected to fashion, style, and subculture different from anyone else?
posted by Justinian at 4:39 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Totally! Like I said--not more delusional than the rest of us. In other words, they are definitely not delusional in my book.

It's a little like how I feel about people with "spirit animals"--they always pick coyotes, eagles, wolves, or crows, and they never pick tapeworms, slugs, or possums (apologies to the late, great George Jones).

I'm not begrudging them their vanity; I have mine too. But social allowances don't need to be made for our vanities.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:01 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Madame Bathory was a maven for fashion.
posted by clavdivs at 5:02 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, this thread went fast. I meant to comment last night, went to bed instead, and now I'm out of sync with the conversation, sorry.

When I got physically ill in my first year of university, my director of studies didn't understand what was wrong and asked me to talk to a counsellor. At the first session, she asked me to tell her about myself, so I said, "Well, I'm gay, I'm a first-year physical sciences student, I come from Essex..." etc. After that she would not leave the gay thing alone. She really thought that my problems, which were to do with my busted thyroid gland, had to have something to do with my sexuality.

A friend of mine had a similar problem in his teens, seeing a therapist who immediately decided that all his emotional problems were because he had lost his Christian faith. The more he denied this and tried to talk about what was actually going on in his life, the more certain the therapist was.

I haven't talked to my lovely current therapist about my gender/sexuality stuff at all, out of worry that it would become the focus of our conversation. Sure, it's not necessarily directly relevant to what I see her for, but it's part of the whole picture of my life, and I would like to be able to mention how being genderqueer and bisexual interacts with the problems I tell her about ... but I don't.

I am not a 'real vampire' or even a 'lifestyle vampire', just a vampire fan, but if I were, I think I would behave very similarly. Maybe I wouldn't even go to a therapist at all.

I think it's great if therapists and social workers get more aware of the diversity of lifestyles/beliefs/identities/whatever-you-want-to-call-this that exist, and even better if they realise that genderqueer people can have unrelated anxiety, or 'real vampires' can still have unrelated health problems, and so on.

Or what hippybear said, much more concisely than me (flagged as fantastic!).
posted by daisyk at 3:46 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Joseph Gurl: I'd like them more and probably feel more personal empathy for them if their self-identities were less obviously derived from romanticism and literary and pop culture

What if it's the other way around, and the romanticism and literary and pop culture sprang forth from the self-identity?
I'm not saying this is the case, but it's a thought.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:04 AM on July 11, 2015


I haven't talked to my lovely current therapist about my gender/sexuality stuff at all, out of worry that it would become the focus of our conversation. Sure, it's not necessarily directly relevant to what I see her for, but it's part of the whole picture of my life, and I would like to be able to mention how being genderqueer and bisexual interacts with the problems I tell her about ... but I don't.

[...]

I think it's great if therapists and social workers get more aware of the diversity of lifestyles/beliefs/identities/whatever-you-want-to-call-this that exist, and even better if they realise that genderqueer people can have unrelated anxiety, or 'real vampires' can still have unrelated health problems, and so on.


I'd go further and say it's explicitly part of the ethical framework that your therapist should be working under, as a member of a professional body, that they be aware of and unbiased about this, particularly if I understand correctly that you are in the UK, as they should be conforming to the BACP framework I linked and quoted above.

It will also form part of their professional responsibility to report any potential malpractice by another practitioner which they become aware of in relation to that framework.

It sounds as if the episode you describe is in the past though, and your assumption that it's not thereby safe to mention your sexuality to your current therapist is very unlikely to be correct today.

I do understand your position though, and I hope one day you do feel safe enough to discuss it with her.
posted by walrus at 9:59 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd like them more and probably feel more personal empathy for them if their self-identities were less obviously derived from romanticism and literary and pop culture and less obviously connected to fashion, style, and subculture.

At the same time, though, the article does draw a strict distinction between people who are interested in vampires because they find them compelling and want to emulate some aspect of how they are depicted, and people who have the particular belief that they need some sustaining substance from others (not necessarily blood) to alleviate fatigue. According to the article, this second group, which the author terms "real vampires", appears to be uninterested in "vampire" stories, fashion, pop culture, or subculture (except in terms of meeting others specifically in this same group).
posted by en forme de poire at 11:11 AM on July 11, 2015


Sorry, there should be an "often" before "appears" above, and also other people have stated what I said more accurately above I think. Typing/reading on phone...
posted by en forme de poire at 11:19 AM on July 11, 2015


they always pick coyotes, eagles, wolves, or crows, and they never pick tapeworms, slugs, or possum

But what if this happens because the potential animal guardian can sense that you feel it is inadequate, then leaves? Good luck bonding with your spirit tapeworm once it is aware of your attitude.
posted by Ashenmote at 12:51 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I had never heard of "real" vampirism before this thread, but I find it strange to treat it as uniquely strange. Where I work, there is a person who thinks he can pick up vibrations from past owners in objects, a person who believes in ghosts, a person who believes that God created Adam and Eve, a person who believes the Book of Revelations is coming true (and Obama is the AntiChrist), and many people who believe in homeopathy. And I work in a Research Lab. People believe all sorts of things. They aren't crazier than the normal person; they ARE the normal person. If I found out one of my coworkers was a vampire, I don't think I'd break stride. I'd like too think that most health care professionals have already had experience with dealing with patients who believe things.
posted by acrasis at 1:04 PM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thanks, walrus.
posted by daisyk at 1:55 PM on July 11, 2015


It seems pretty clear to me that a mental health professional would be professionally required to explore whether a claimed vampire had a mental health problem related to that belief.
posted by yarly at 4:27 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the article: "People of all kinds sometimes struggle with relationship issues or have a death in family or struggles with career and job-type issues..."

If someone wants to access help for these kinds of issues, and just happens to identify as a vampire, then no - the professional has no business deciding the problem is actually a mental health one related to this identity. You deal with the presenting issue, you don't ignore it in favour of what you think the "real" issue is.
posted by billiebee at 4:38 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where I work, there is a person who thinks he can pick up vibrations from past owners in objects, a person who believes in ghosts, a person who believes that God created Adam and Eve, a person who believes the Book of Revelations is coming true (and Obama is the AntiChrist), and many people who believe in homeopathy.

OMG, mankind is doomed. Magical thinking is not best practices thinking.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:05 PM on July 11, 2015


I'm flashing back a bit to the recent thread about overweight people who couldn't get doctors to treat them for non-weight-related illnesses.

"Person A's doctor wouldn't her carpal tunnel syndrome, and said she wouldn't be in pain if she wasn't so fat."
"But Person A shouldn't be fat!"

"Person B needs help from a social worker, but the social worker can't get past the fact that person B identifies as a vampire."
"But Person B shouldn't identify as a vampire!"


One major difference is that you can't hide the fact that you're overweight from your doctor. It's much easier to hide/not divulge your vampirism.
posted by ymgve at 5:59 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had never heard of "real" vampirism before this thread, but I find it strange to treat it as uniquely strange.

Agreed. I know any number of people who believe such a thing as the white race is an actual thing. All that's needed to take a belief from "delusion" to "common sense" is enough popularity.
posted by happyroach at 6:54 PM on July 11, 2015


If someone wants to access help for these kinds of issues, and just happens to identify as a vampire, then no - the professional has no business deciding the problem is actually a mental health one related to this identity. You deal with the presenting issue, you don't ignore it in favour of what you think the "real" issue is.

A mental health professional most certainly has the duty to figure out if a client is exhibiting signs of schizophrenia or delusions. Claiming to be a vampire is obviously something they'd have to probe a bit. I agree that it's a good thing for mental health professionals to understand it is an internet-mediated subculture, and not necessarily a sign of schizophrenia.
posted by yarly at 7:07 PM on July 11, 2015


>All that's needed to take a belief from "delusion" to "common sense" is enough popularity.

Of course! All "consensus reality" requires consensus, and all "insanity" is just delusions that the rest of us don't share (especially ones that frighten and confuse us).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:13 PM on July 11, 2015


@yarly What do you base that on?
posted by gryftir at 12:02 AM on July 12, 2015


Claiming to be a vampire is obviously something they'd have to probe a bit.

That's where I respectfully disagree. If someone came to me because they were bereaved, and they identified as a vampire, I don't think it's obvious that I should probe into this rather than working on their bereavement issues. And the point of the article seems to be that people are reluctant to access services because they know that acknowledging their identity would lead to this kind of probing at the expense of them getting the service they actually wanted to access. If someone approaches a mental health professional because their self-identified vampirism is causing them problems, then by all means the professional can go there. But otherwise it's not warranted.
posted by billiebee at 4:18 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


daisyk: I'm so sorry to hear you and your friend had such bad experiences with therapists. We aren't supposed to bring our biases into the room in such a manner, but some of us are better at it than others. I hope your current therapist turns out to be trustworthy, or that you can find a trustworthy one soon.



A mental health professional most certainly has the duty to figure out if a client is exhibiting signs of schizophrenia or delusions.

A single, unusual belief does not a delusion make, much less a diagnosis like schizophrenia. I went into more detail on schizophrenia here, under better circumstances and when people were pissing me off less.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:19 AM on July 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


I agree that there is a clinical definition of schizophrenia that has to be met. But there's no way a competent mental health professional would just let it completely slide when a new client says "I am a vampire." How could you tell the difference between somebody suffering delusions and somebody who is a member of a subculture?
posted by yarly at 12:06 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a 3rd generation atheist, this is different from the other contra-evidential things people believe, how?
posted by signal at 1:15 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


But there's no way a competent mental health professional would just let it completely slide when a new client says "I am a vampire." How could you tell the difference between somebody suffering delusions and somebody who is a member of a subculture?

lol, Deoridhe is a practicing mental health professional and literally just linked to a comment where she explores this issue in detail :)
posted by en forme de poire at 1:20 PM on July 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


Again, I am not saying that a mental health professionsal would go from claims of being a vampire to a diagnosis of psychosis. But obviously they would have to ask a few follow up questions to understand the situation and further screen for signs of psychosis.
posted by yarly at 2:57 PM on July 12, 2015


yarly you keep saying "obviously" when you are not stating a fact but rather your opinion. You're kind of backing up the pov of the respondents in the survey if you think that someone saying they identify as a vampire, no matter what they're actually presenting with, means they have to be automatically screened for psychosis.
posted by billiebee at 3:03 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


yes, that's right - I think they should probably assume they will get some additional questions about their mental state if they assert they are a vampire to a health professional.
posted by yarly at 3:11 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are any number of odd things my son's teachers could get away with saying to me. "I'm a vampire" is not one of them.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:56 PM on July 12, 2015


I think people should keep their intimate details private. No one needs to know about what you do. Feasting on pranic energy or blood is an intimate detail. Keep a lid on it. Same as for your predilection for tentacle porn, the size of your dick, or the weird rash on your taint.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:37 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


As for our hypothetical bereft vampire: why on earth would they be mentioning vampirism anyway? They're there for bereavement counseling. Mentioning that they're a vampire makes as much sense as mentioning that they like tentacle porn, Jamoca shakes, or that they paint their toenails green. Irrelevant, nonsensical, and an indication that there's some deeper problem—one that's probably related to this bizarre non sequitur they felt compelled to share.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:46 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


As for our hypothetical bereft vampire: why on earth would they be mentioning vampirism anyway?

People open up about all kinds of things in the (ideally) safe space when working with a therapist. It's hardly the same as announcing it down the pub. You can be as contemptuous and dismissive as you want (you know, as long as you keep it to yourself. What you do in the privacy of your own home, etc). The hope is that you're not a mental health professional. It's when they're contemptuous and dismissive that the problems arise.
posted by billiebee at 6:08 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've been to grief counseling. They might want to ask you about the other areas of your life so that they can see how the grief might be affecting your life as a whole, and also so that they can see if you're able to maintain other aspects of your life or if the grief is swallowing you up entirely.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:45 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Karaage: the "findings" are reported in the article in poetic verse

I don't wish to derail the conversation, but I sort of assumed this was a joke until I looked at the PDF and there it is on the ninth page.
Short responses in poetic form were selected in the reporting of findings, in this way preserving the intensity of that fear as reported by participants while alerting readers as well to the converging discourses in which such fear is located, discourses we found to be largely from psychiatry and western religion. As other researchers have done (i.e., Adame, et al., 2011; Glesne, 1997), only the actual words of participants were used in crafting poetic representation to reflect vampires’ fear of disclosure and their explanations for such fear
Just curious, is this sort of thing common in scholarly work? As a lay reader, I don't really find it adds much to my understanding of the study, but de gustibus non est disputandum, I suppose.
posted by whir at 9:46 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


You're kind of backing up the pov of the respondents in the survey if you think that someone saying they identify as a vampire, no matter what they're actually presenting with, means they have to be automatically screened for psychosis.

And this is a problem. It's one shared by people in a number of unusual sub-groups, from people with unusual religious beliefs to people with unusual sexual practices to people who are simply unusual. There are a lot of health care professionals who agree with the uninformed laypeople here that they should focus on what makes people strange instead of what is causing people distress.

This holds even once people have been diagnosed; there is a distressing tendency for people to treat individuals diagnosed with a psychotic disorder as if everything they say must be delusional. The reality is that people who have delusional disorders are usually delusional along a narrow spectrum - you can trust the majority of what they say as long as you have a sense of their baseline. And that's not even taking into account the fact that a subset of delusions are reactions to actual environmental triggers, and so hearing about the delusions is critical if you are going to give them sustained, effective care.

There are a few cases where what makes people strange (for example, an ongoing desire to repeat inaccurate information even after one has been corrected) might distress others and thus be contributing to the problems of the person in question, but those are always harder issues to address as the person doing the behavior sees nothing wrong with it - they are simply hurting those around them and don't care about the pain or frustration they cause.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:14 PM on July 12, 2015 [12 favorites]


This is really a situation in which it's helpful to read the links in the post (or even just the headline of the first link would help), rather than just "[KEYWORD]: react!" The articles aren't about people inappropriately sharing intimate details, but in fact exactly the opposite. If your concern is that you personally are being asked to be kind or nonjudgmental about someone who identifies as a "vampire," you can relax, since this is about physician and/or therapist relationships, and in the same way that it would be inappropriate for you to ask a random stranger to examine "the weird rash on your taint" it might be helpful if you weren't afraid to mention it to your doctor. Two different things.
posted by taz at 11:57 PM on July 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


But Deoridhe you are making a big assumption here that there is no diagnosis to be made or considered when someone shows up in a psychologists office for the first time and says she is a vampire. I agree with you that people with mental illnesses should not be assumed to be delusional about everything, and that one strange belief (even that you can derive energy from drinking blood) does not make you psychotic. My only point is that any competent mental health professional would do further screening for psychosis if a client walked in and said "I am a vampire." Do you really disagree with that?
posted by yarly at 10:20 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


My only point is that any competent mental health professional would do further screening for psychosis if a client walked in and said "I am a vampire." Do you really disagree with that?

It sounds like you are asking Deoridhe to admit that she isn't “competent”, which is a pretty ehh move. Maybe that wasn't your intent, but that's definitely how it reads.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:27 AM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


[Couple comments removed, let's drop this.]
posted by cortex at 10:44 AM on July 13, 2015


> But Deoridhe you are making a big assumption here that there is no diagnosis to be made or considered when someone shows up in a psychologists office for the first time and says she is a vampire.

You have no apparent expertise, experience, or competency in the mental health field, but continue to insist that if someone who identifies as a vampire comes in seeking care, obviously they should be screened for psychosis. Actual mental health practitioners disagree. Maybe you should stop explaining to people how to do a job they know how to do and you don't.
posted by rtha at 10:49 AM on July 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


[Couple comments removed; cool it with both the counterfactuals and name-calling.]
posted by cortex at 1:32 PM on July 13, 2015


For the record, if a person presented cogently, was oriented x3, etc... (standard mental status exam stuff) but had one or to unusual beliefs, then I would not screen for psychosis; indeed I would consider them typical as most people have one or two unusual beliefs.

Psychosis is complicated and involves much more than a single unusual belief. Psychosis is also is fairly difficult to miss, especially in cases of untreated or untreatable schizophrenia. A person with a single, unusual belief is not psychotic, they are typical.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:30 AM on July 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


Thanks for being so cool-headed Deoridhe.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:29 AM on July 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


You wouldn't ask any follow-up questions about the nature of their belief that they are a vampire who derives energy from drinking blood? That seems like more than a single usual belief. I would be interested to hear from other mental health professionals here.
posted by yarly at 5:46 AM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am not sure why you are interested in hearing from other mental health professionals as you continue to ignore what Deoridhe is saying. But for the record, I am a mental health professional (part time anyway) and no, I would not head down the path of questioning this belief at the expense of why the person actually came for counselling any more than I'd start interrogating their belief in God if they identified as a Christian. Does that help?
posted by billiebee at 5:59 AM on July 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Deoridhe: "There are a few cases where what makes people strange (for example, an ongoing desire to repeat inaccurate information even after one has been corrected) might distress others and thus be contributing to the problems of the person in question…"
posted by signal at 12:39 PM on July 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


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