Vampirism or hematodipsia is one of the most twisted paraphilias : those who suffer from it feel an urgent need to ingest, perform treatments or rituals with blood (usually human), often motivated by the belief that this liquid contains magical properties that rejuvenate or prolong life.
What is vampirism? Causes and symptoms
A first possible explanation for this disorder lies in the possibility that those who ingest blood do so for pure fetishism: in it they find the sexual pleasure necessary to carry out their most Machiavellian fantasies in which the red liquid is the protagonist.
Another commonly exposed cause is some kind of traumatic experience during childhood that as an adult is linked to sexual stimulation. Psychologists agree that this is a mental disorder linked to sadism, which pushes those affected to hurt and assault others to achieve some specific end. Some experts have drawn parallels between vampirism and necrophilia.
Of course, it is possible to get rid of the collective thinking that has been left to us by the literary works and films of vampires. Those affected by hematodipsia do not use the blood they extract from their victims “to survive” or anything like that. It is a disorder more linked to the satisfaction of a pleasure resulting from the suffering of others .
Be that as it may, the causes of vampirism are under discussion, especially because of the few cases described historically.
Brief historical overview of hematodipsia cases
Several cases have marked the collective unconscious around this disease. Although many of these stories are real, cinema and literature have led us to a biased understanding of this phenomenon. Anyway, these cases that we will relate below refer to flesh and blood people who suffered from vampirism .
The cult of blood and its supposed qualities has its roots in history and has made famous people like Vlad Tepes “the Impaler” (15th century) famous.
This prince of Romania received his nickname for using impalement as a punishment for both traitors and those fallen in battle of the enemy armies; and then drinking their blood, convinced that he could thus achieve invincibility. This figure inspired the Irish Bram Stoker’s celebrated eternal love story “Dracula” (1897), as well as numerous later literary and film adaptations.
The Bloody Countess
We moved to the late Middle Ages, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. In Hungary, Erzsébet Báthory, also known as the “Bloody Countess”, would go down in history for her devotion to red liquid and for what she was able to do under the pretext of always remaining beautiful.
When she reached adolescence, this woman of noble birth became obsessed with the idea of wanting to preserve her beauty forever. Therefore, she contacted witches and sorcerers to see how she could make her wish come true. These initiated her into ceremonies in which she had to drink blood, preferably extracted from young girls and “virgins of soul”, that is, who had not known love. Over time, her descent into hell increased, since, not content with murdering to drink human blood, she began to bathe in it: she spent hours immersed in liters of this liquid, believing that in this way she would maintain her youthful appearance forever.
After years of disappearances of the local women living in the surrounding villages, the countess and her accomplices were discovered. The sorceresses and witches who had helped her commit the crimes and who performed the bloody ceremonies had their fingers cut off with a red-hot iron, then beheaded and their bodies thrown into a fire. The countess was condemned to be walled up alive in a room that had a small skylight on top where the sunlight filtered in.
In spite of the horrible penance imposed and being fed once a day, the countess endured four years in a sandwich and never showed any signs of repentance for what she did. Did the intake and bloodbaths have anything to do with postponing her agony for so long? Or, on the contrary, would she have died of some disease (such as pneumonia) if she had not undergone such processes?
The Vampire of Barcelona
At the beginning of the 20th century, Barcelona, a city now known worldwide as one of the main tourist attractions, witnessed one of the most terrible events in Spain’s black history. The disappearance of several children in the district known as “El Raval” put the people who lived in this impoverished neighborhood on alert.
The culprit was Enriqueta Martí, who would earn the nickname “The Vampire of Barcelona” or “The Vampire of the Raval”, a woman with a hermit’s life and dark customs: they say that she dedicated herself to kidnapping children from humble families or those who had been abandoned in the street in order to kill them, extract their blood and fat and use them as a base for cosmetic products, ointments and potions that she later sold to personalities from the high spheres with whom she rubbed shoulders.
This woman had her home at the bottom of a well-known street in Barcelona and it was thanks to the good eye of a neighbour that she was able to put an end to her reign of terror. After kidnapping a little girl of only five years old on February 10, 1912, on February 27, a neighbor who lived in front of the vampire’s lair was able to see through one of the windows a young man with a shaved head. At first she did not think that it could be related to the disappearance of the little girl, but she was surprised to see her there, since Enriqueta had been living alone in that place for more than a year. After discussing it with some of the shopkeepers and merchants, they decided to alert the police, who finally obtained a reliable clue about the mysterious case.
When the agents arrived at the scene, they found no alarming sign that the woman in tattered rags was the cause of so much confusion… Until they found a room that the owner kept suspiciously locked up: there were several books on witchcraft, bloody children’s clothes, large quantities of human fat in glass jars, a large skinning knife, and the bones of at least twelve children in a large sack.
As he confessed at the police station, his procedure was as follows: dressed in tattered rags as if she were a beggar, she stalked her victims and abducted them in the middle of the street . Once in her lair, she murdered them, draining their blood and fat. Then, at night, dressed in her best clothes, she would go to the central areas of the city where the wealthy people were concentrated and there she would contact them to trade her products, which were said to have both rejuvenating and curative properties for some diseases typical of the time (for example, tuberculosis). He also admitted that there was a time when he was unlucky in his abductions as a child, so he chose to extract the fat from street animals such as dogs and cats.
After her statement, she was sent to a women’s prison, where she would try to take her own life twice, once trying to bite the veins out of her wrist. From that moment on, she was under the surveillance of three of the most dangerous and respected inmates of the centre, to prevent other inmates from injuring her or from doing it again herself.
It is believed that his suicide attempt was to avoid giving in to pressure from the authorities to confess the names of the personalities he worked for, as it was always suspected that important families of the time might have been involved. Perhaps this explains the causes of her death, in 1913, when despite the supervision she was subjected to, a group of inmates lynched her to death . The most suspicious have always considered the possibility that someone, from outside or inside the prison, ordered her immediate execution. Unfortunately, the case was in the investigation phase, so it was never tried and the whole truth could not be known.
The Bag Man
Who hasn’t heard of “The Bag Man”? In Spanish folklore, in the past there was talk of this character who, according to the stories, wandered around the villages in search of those children who did not behave well, whom he put in the big bag he carried with him and never saw again.
Although one might think that it is a simple invention that arose to terrorize the little ones and make them obey, the truth is that this legend has its origin in the so-called “sacamantecas” or “sacauntos” who, at the beginning of the 20th century, murdered several children in different areas of Spain. At a time when hunger was rampant in rural areas, many saw the opportunity to make money easily by killing and removing the ointments from small children, and then selling them to the wealthy in the form of poultices or ointments.
Juan Díaz de Garayo, in Vitoria; or José González Tovar, in Málaga , are some examples that occupy a position of dubious honour in the dark history of Spain and that we will undoubtedly address in future publications.