FROM THE EDITOR: CLEOPATRA VICTORIA, MFT
What's up with the current national obsession with vampires? There wasTwilight, the runaway movie ( a sequel is in the making), and now we have the Golden Globe-winning, Emmy-nominated, True Blood, HBO's most popular series since Sex and The City and The Sopranos. The season finale garnered 2.3 million viewers. And, the independent CW channel offers The Vampire Diaries, a gothy Gossip Girl.
Vampiric folklore was birthed in the medieval period and is globally prevalent in the current era. Pre-industrial societies didn't understand decomposition, and vampires could explain the process of death. Myth says that vampires return to visit their loved ones and create havoc in the 'hoods they used to habituate. These creatures subsist by feeding on the blood of living creatures. They have sharp teeth, drink blood, are immortal, and hard to kill. The 1897 novel, Dracula, is the basis of modern vampirism.
Vampirism and sexuality are closely intertwined. Freud's "morbid dread" symbolizes repressed sexual wishes. In analytic terms, vampirism contains desired and feared fantasies, including the Oedipus complex. There is also the desire for merger and the terror of annihilation in that union. Ernest Jones, Welsh analyst and Freud's biographer, as well as President of both the British Psychoanalytical Society and the International Psychoanalytic Association in the 1920s and '30s, writes in his 1931 "On the Nightmare," that vampirism is symbolic of several unconscious drives and defenses. Oral sadism is integral. Phyllis Roth, a Dracula scholar, posits that the fantasy of incest and matricide evokes the vagina dentata in which mouth and vagina are the same in the unconscious mind, provoking the threat of castration.
Desire and fear are mixed as are sex and death. In his book Real Cities, Steven Piles also suggests that vampires represent male anxieties about castration. Female vampires hint at the hazards of modern urban sexuality--dangerous, seductive vamps on the prowl. Piles links rumors of vampirism to unexpressed fears of strangers in the modern city.
Given the current, collective economic and social angst, maybe vampirism is an apt metaphor for that which cannot be thought and can only be imagined and worked through in popular media. Perhaps we are all terrified of having our lifeblood sucked dry. Many of us were sucked out of our life savings. Some were sucked into mortgages and then chewed up. Our horror at the lack of national healthcare, perhaps, is expressed as this obsession with blood. We were suckered into a war, and here we are. Despite January's grandiose, omnipotent merger with the idealized Obama (note the O, Bionians), Rasmussen Reports shows Presidential approval ratings in mid-September as just 50%. Pessimistically speaking, Obama's ratings suck. But, in the end, maybe we're the suckers..
Cleopatra Victoria, MFT