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Emotional Vampirism

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by Sarah Dorrance

(Emotional vampirism, or what Anton LaVey calls "psychic vampirism," is not to be confused with conscious psi-vamping)

One type of vampirism frequently gets swept under the rug in real-vamp discussions, and that's the need to feed on the emotions of others. It's a very real hunger, and it's just as demanding as any other vampiric hunger, perhaps even more unbearable because the vampire's own emotions are involved. I think one reason people hardly ever talk about it, or identify as vampires of emotion, is that this hunger is frequently ignored and thus accidentally abused. It is also often used by people who would ordinarily not be vampires but who are going through a bad patch: they've just been jilted, or fired, or widowed, or informed that they have leukemia...or whatever. It's normal when one is feeling small and insecure and helpless and confused and very, very unhappy to make ploys for attention, and feed from that attention. Most people do that to a certain extent at some point in their lives.

Some people need to do that for all their lives. They would hunger even if they were happy.

There is nothing wrong with this -- despite the bad rap that emotional vampirism gets. However, it must be done responsibly, and this is trickier than it is with other sorts of vampirism.

First of all, an emotional vampire is usually quite insecure. This could be because of simple isolation, from "normal" people and even other vampires. It could also be a side effect of the hunger. Perhaps if we look at it thus, as a side effect rather than as an automatic cause, we might be less judgmental when dealing with emotional vampires.

The other reason responsible feeding is tricky is that strong emotion of any sort is very addictive -- like other forms of the hunger. Only it's much easier to obtain strong emotion than it is to obtain blood or prana! Blood is tricky to find simply because it's, well, blood. Prana you have to drain consciously, which involves psychic concentration and a certain expenditure of energy in order to obtain more energy than one started out with -- if you are draining one partner, it doesn't even work very well unless your donor believes in what is happening. Magic only works when you let it work, at least on anything but the most minor and subliminal level. Emotions, on the other hand, are easy to rile up. They are energy of a different sort. Feeling hungry? Piss off your lover. Cling to a friend. Flirt with that guy who you know likes you, although you have little intention of actually delivering the goods. Go to a tent revival, a rock concert, a political demonstration. Argue about abortion rights with someone who has very strong feelings about the subject. Get someone to fall in love with you. Strip naked and let yourself be admired (yes, that can work for pranic energy as well, but emotional energy requires far less concentration).

Are you inspiring negative emotions? Possibly -- but hey, they're emotions, and you're hungry.

I'm not pointing fingers. I'm an emotional vampire too. I need blood, but i have never turned down emotion.

I can't say I'm "sober" or "in recovery" either. I am one of the most demanding, greedy, insecure people I know. However, being aware of the problem helps me try to manage it.

I bet most of you on this list have emotion vamped to a certain degree, too. It's easy, and when you can't get blood, it's at least like a bag of nachos when you can't get up the gumption to cook a real dinner.

I used to be likened to a black hole when I was younger -- I sucked everyone around me dry. People would lavish attention on me, but somehow I never seemed to flourish and it never did any good.

Here are some things that have helped me -- I've given them a lot of thought. I'm in a particularly insecure and fragile mood right now, which helps a little with the empathy.

1.) Give yourself attention every day -- gaze into the mirror and force yourself to admire yourself, even if it's one body part at a time. Let yourself believe that you are the most fascinating, beautiful person in the world. This isn't conceit (if you are truly dull or horrid, someone will poke a hole in your bubble soon enough). It's pampering. If you don't pamper yourself, you will demand that other people give you what you aren't giving yourself, which annoys them, which gets you lots of negative energy to feed from but which also tends to make people around you feel mentally raped or at least harassed, and that drives away people that you can use for food. So give yourself lots of positive attention when you feel like you need it. So what if it's five times a day? So what if it feels like masturbating (which I also strongly encourage, if you are like anybody other than me and actually reach orgasm through pleasant means)? If it feels good, do it. Treat yourself. You don't just deserve it, you need it.

2.) Don't be self obsessed to the point of narcissistic paranoia, but do be introspective. Examine your feelings. When you feel an emotion, take a little while to think about why you feel it. When you feel blue or uncomfortable, examine the source of your pain. Try free associating on paper, if that helps. Talk it over with a counselor or a friend, when you feel like doing so. THINK. A lot of attacks of insecurity and nastiness can be prevented by a little self honesty. Don't bury your feelings, be honest with yourself about what they are, then examine why you feel that way and think about various ways to make yourself feel better (try to come up with more than one alternative). Note: sometimes a little simple distraction helps too. Taking pleasure in the very simple things (a nice day, a deep breath, a favourite song, a warm bath) is surprisingly effective. Why? Because you are feeding yourself attention.

3.) Can you perform? (music, dance, drama) ... If so, DO IT! Getting the attention of a rapt audience gives you a strong buzz and it has the advantage of taking small amounts of energy from a number of different people rather than taking large amounts of energy from one or two people.

4.) Think about joining a support group -- for anything that you might be remotely involved with. Why? See #3.

5.) Found a group of your own for play, study, whatever (What? You don't think that I don't feed off the attention and praise and vigour of this list? How naive! Of course I do -- I just tell you about it so that you don't think I'm starting a cult or anything like that).

6.) Strike a healthy balance between needing others and being alone. You need to learn to be comfortable with aloneness, even if it makes you feel anxious or stressed to the max. Otherwise, you will send off "desperation" vibes when you socialize that scare away your food. Nobody likes a hungry, desperate vampire. A healthy, well fed vampire is very lovable and inspires intrigue and fascination. To get food, you have to seem like you are already taken care of, even if you are not. Feed yourself whenever you get hungry before you even think of feeding other people.

7.) Take personality quizzes. I've found that it's an easy and mesmerizing form of self-love. It also sometimes even tells you something you don't already know about yourself, although learning stuff that you already know is even better because it gives you what you crave most of all: self validation. It reassures you that yes, you are real, you are you, and you are utterly fascinating, really. Believe it or not, everybody needs to believe that -- it's not just you, although you have an added reason for needing self validation.

8.) Take good care of your health. Bad health makes you hungrier and will make you drain people a lot more.

9.) When you do get positive attention from people, give it back -- that way you'll keep getting more positive attention.

10.) Never chase after prey that is trying to distance itself from you. Ever. Only feed from people who are eager and willing. It's not just ethics -- it's good common sense. Cultivating the willing gets you a lot more energy and keeps you better fed.

11.) Be open and honest. People hate having to guess at whether or not that strange vibe they get from you really is because you're sapping them of energy, or if they're just paranoid. If you say "I'm hungry and I need some attention, could you give it to me?" you're a lot more likely to get it -- and you'll get more of it, too.

12.) Be weird, and revel in it, if you have the luxury. Dressing in a bizarre manner, living a loudly alternative lifestyle, etc draws stares. I love the shock vibes I get when I tell people about my religion, or come out of the closet. I can't do this at work any more, but believe me, in private life I'm as much of a loud freak as ever.

You won't always be good at following these rules of thumb. I still pick fights for the sake of stirring up a little emotion. I still get demanding when I'm feeling insecure and irrational. However, I'm not as bad about it as I used to be (I hope).

I hope these pointers help.

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