Beware of the Vampires in the Human Mind

An atypical thirst for blood, an ominous debonair presence, an aversion to sunlight - these are the ingredients of vampire lore.

But don't beware of the pointed bicuspids or flashy capes, rather heed your own relationships.

The vampires may already be there.

That's according to Julia McAfee, a practicing Jungian analyst from Florida, who will lecture tonight at Old Dominion University.

According to McAfee, the vampire is a psychological archetype, a dark incarnation of the human mind.

"The vampire is a descriptive myth about people's possibilities, about preying on others," said McAfee. "We see the vampire in dark parts of our relationships, when somebody drains you."

McAfee's ideas of the vampire archetype originate from ancient descriptions of vampires. Evidence of vampire lore traces back to Babylonia, Greece and ancient Egypt and is prominent throughout Christian culture. Vampires were around when people were writing on clay tablets.

Today, vampire lore is alive and well. Ann Rice's novel "Interview With The Vampire," the first of her vampire chronicles, recently became a movie staring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Francis Ford Coppola took on Bram Stoker's "Dracula" in 1992. Even comedian Eddie Murphy is biting with his movie "Vampire in Brooklyn."

But Hollywood's vampire doesn't quite match the ancient version. Brad Pitt is mincemeat compared to the real blood suckers.

"Hollywood has trivialized the vampire legend," said McAfee.

McAfee said the traditional vampire image was the antithesis of the Christ figure. Historically, blood is the archetypal symbol for life. Christ gave blood. Vampires stole it.

That's where McAfee arrives with Jungian theory.

Carl Jung, a Swiss analytical psychologist, invented the idea of the "collective unconscious," a theory that all people dredge archetypes from the same mental pool. For example, everyone is born understanding the image of the mother. The same applies to the vampire.

McAfee combined Jungian theory with the age-old vampire archetype.

"I am looking at the vampire legend through relationships," said McAfee, "through a Jungian concept of psychology.

"I believe there is a mystery about evil that can be symbolized by vampires. I'm talking about psychic sponges, people that seem to suck up another person."

McAfee said many marriages involve one spouse living off the other's vitality.

"You see possessive mothers or fathers who seem to almost eat their children up," said McAfee. "It's a possessive love."

Along with being a Jungian analyst, McAfee is also an art therapist. In addition to tonight's lecture, McAfee will head a Saturday workshop. The workshop is meant to be an interactive discussion, McAfee said to "draw out the ideas of evil," and apply therapy to the theory.

McAfee said every person absorbing one's time should not be seen as vampiric. But "when one person starts being drained ... it can become a life-and-death struggle between the two people."

Author: Jimmy Gnass, Old Dominion University
Originally printed: The Virginian-Pilot, November 17, 1995


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