Members of the real-world vampire community are not just Edward Cullens or Count Draculas. They are, according to D.J. Williams, director of Social Work at Idaho State University, "successful, ordinary people." Williams has been studying self-identifying vampires for almost a decade, and says that real vampires are a diverse, conscientious, and ethically-driven community with a presumed global population of thousands.
A paper by Williams and Emily E. Prior published in the latest issue of Critical Social Work describes how vampires, though they generally live ordinary lives, are extremely tired. In order to revive their energy, they need to find consenting adults who are willing to let them drink a small amount of their blood. Makes sense, right?
The paper goes on to explain how these "authentic" vampires (not to be confused with "lifestyle" vampires, who are more of the gothy, Halloween variety) have a hard time "coming out of the coffin" to clinicians and therapists. They are in constant fear that their blood-drinking will put them at risk of being labeled "sinful" or "mentally ill."
The study emphasizes how self-identifying vampires are more common than one would expect and that it is important for psychologists and counselors to create an environment free from discrimination. Williams thinks that if clinicians are more educated about self-identifying vampires, they will be better suited to helping them with their psychological needs. Even self-identifying vampires struggle with common relationship and career issues and deserve an open environment to discuss their problems.
"This is a study with a specific alternative identity but it also relates to a larger issue that we are moving into as we are seeing more alternative identities and practices," Williams told the Idaho State Journal. That being said, he acknowledges that many physicians are still not aware, or do not accept these kinds of studies as valid, so these real-life vamps aren't going to feel comfortable coming into the light any time soon.