Explanations Of Vampirism Essay

1861 words - 8 pages

Over the centuries many stories have arisen on vampires. The stories have changed throughout this time, but the main theme of sucking blood has lived on. Folklore has proposed that vampires are blood sucking, immortal, undead humans that rise from the grave and prey on people. Many psychologists and scientists have tried to explain the vampire epidemic but to the norm theories didn't hold, and more folklore developed. Doctors have come up with many different diseases that could be related, if not, explain vampires. Some of these diseases include porphyria and rabies; these two topics will be discussed in this paper as will a more detailed clarification of a "film and media" description ...view middle of the document...

From reports vampires only lived for 40 days, but in other legends, they lived eternally, unless staked through the heart or being in sunlight. Every legend is slightly altered, but the basic characteristics are still present.These are legends because no events were ever documented when they actually took place, but rather were written down anywhere from twenty years or more, later. In that time, facts could be exaggerated or remembered incorrectly, therefore giving rise to the urban legends we now know about vampires.A myth goes that in a town called Serbia in the 1730's a series of murders and animal deaths were credited to vampires, therefore, going by the myths, the townspeople began digging up bodies, finding corpses fresh, with blood dripping from their mouths and with fully erect genitalia. Stakes were then driven into the bodies of the corpses and they cried out in pain as they died.Many people have tried to explain the occurrence of vampires, one explanation being the disease porphyria. It is a rare hereditary blood disease; a victim of porphyria cannot produce heme, which is a major and vital component of red blood. Its symptoms so closely match the myths associated with our modern conception of vampirism. The form of this disease associated with vampirism is congenital erythropoietic porphyria. Porphyria symptoms include: extreme sensitivity to light; sores and scars that break open and will not heal properly; excessive hair growth; tightening of skin around lips and gums (which would make the incisors more prominent). These features would cause the person to only go out in the night. In addition, while garlic stimulates the production of heme in a healthy person, it would only cause the symptoms of porphyria to become more painfully severe. There are, however, problems that come with this porphyria theory.One being that congenital erythropoietic porphyria is so rare that only 200 cases have ever been documented and that cannot explain the hundreds of cases of vampirism in the Balkans in the 1700's. Also, enzymes from ingested blood cannot incorporate themselves, intact and functional, into one's blood stream, so sucking blood wouldn't lessen symptoms of porphyria. Furthermore, vampires' sensitivity to light and inability to emerge in the daytime are very recent additions to the mythos, even more recent than Bram Stokers Dracula. And since the blisters associated with porphyria leave the skin scarred and disfigured, the corpses would not be left in the life-like condition of the suspected vampire bodies dug-up in the 1700s. Also, porphyria doesn't even begin to explain any of the other aspects of vampirism -- the transmission of the condition through a bite, the association with animals, garlic, mirrors, or postmortem liquid blood.Because of the problems with porphyria Juan Gomez-Alonso proposed another hypothesis in the scientific journal Neurology. He determined that all of the characteristics of vampires uncannily resemble that of...

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