I can always rely on The Guardian to make me lose faith in the idea that this world is even worth saving. Check out this headline from last week.
I’m hoping this is just an example of Poe’s law in action, and is in fact just a parody of how ridiculous things have gotten. With The Guardian though, I just don’t buy it. This very same newspaper just a few days ago also wrote that the grandchildren of holocaust survivors need help because they have somehow inherited their grandparent’s trauma because the experience altered the DNA and breast milk of survivors. Of course, what that really means is that anyone who is actually old enough to possibly have been in a Nazi camp, are dying off now, and they need to keep the gravy train going forever.
Funny how, us Irish haven’t inherited the trauma of our own ancestors suffering. Nor, do I ever hear cases of of descendants of WW1 soldiers inheriting the trauma of trench warfare. Or the descendants of the survivors of various Communist atrocities like the Holodomor or the Cambodian Genocide, etc., inheriting that trauma. I wonder why that is?
Anyway, I digress. I didn’t mean to go off topic so much. Back to the original topic then.
“Real vampires” are people who think they must feed on the energies of others, either physically or psychically, for their own wellbeing. Feeding takes a variety of forms. Some will drink blood from consenting human donors, others will rely on physical contact. For some, being in a crowded room is enough to recharge their batteries.
Sounds like some kind of parasitic entity.
What happens when a “real vampire” needs to get counselling, or go to a social worker? A recent study explores the barriers vampires must overcome when they come into contact with members of the “helping professions” – psychology, social work and so on.
Perhaps in spite of itself, the study also illustrates the contradictory nature of our communal moral reflection when it comes to issues of identity.
The study’s authors identify two beliefs held by helping professionals that are central to a person’s reticence to “come out of the coffin” and disclose their “real vampirism”.
First, that vampires aren’t actually real.
And second, that identifying as a vampire is indicative of a deeper mental health issue.
No shit again.
To deal with the first belief, the authors argue that, to the “real vampires” themselves, their self-identity is indeed very real: “Real vampires believe that they do not choose their vampiric condition; they are born with it, somewhat akin to sexual orientation.”
Wow very much akin to sexual orientation. How could us hate filled vampirephobes be filled with such irrational hatreds, by not treating their vampire identity with the same respect we treat people’s sexual orientation? We really have so much to answer for as a society, and we should probably reassess everything we know about the world, in order to ensure we don’t accidentally upset these special snowflakes.
At first sight, the comparison seems laughable, if not deeply offensive to those who have fought – and continue to fight – to have their orientations respected and afforded equal moral, legal, and political rights. But still, I suspect many would hesitate to give public voice to their scepticism.
No, it really is laughable.
This is because our scepticism rubs up against liberal demands to tolerate a broad range of different beliefs and choices. And it’s hard to have it both ways.
Exactly, we live in a totalitarian nightmare, where so called “tolerant” people demand that everyone else be tolerant of the most ridiculous and insane bullshit imaginable. This is because political correctness is to modern times, what Christianity was to Medieval times. Back then, what the church said was law. The vast majority were blind followers, who accepted everything without question. Anyone who went against what the church said was at best ridiculed and bullied by the masses, and at worse, was executed as a heretic. Nowadays, executions might not happen, but anyone who goes against the gospel of political correctness is likely to lose friends, be verbally harassed for their views, and may even lose employment, due to pressure being directed against their employer by the purveyors of politically correct dogma.
It even has gotten to the point where those who follow the religion of political correctness, perform the same actions that they ridicule the Catholic church for doing. The church was known for ignoring scientific facts that contradicted their world view (for example, the idea of the earth revolving around the sun). Today, people ignore statistics on interracial crime or will support fake rape allegations even when they have already been proven false, because they are blinded by their ideological views, and will not accept any evidence that runs counter to this ideology. Anyone who proves their world view wrong is hunted down like the heretics of olden times, and punished for their heresy.
The reason it is hard is because we lack a coherent, objective framework that builds on an amalgamation of historical, cultural, philosophical, artistic, and scientific accounts of what it means to be a human being, and what it is to live in human community.
Instead, society determines legitimate forms of self-determination or identity on the basis of consensus. If sufficient numbers of people demand recognition, they are rewarded it, but until then, they won’t be treated legitimately. People have the right to be bigots, depending on who they’re being bigoted toward.
So does that mean that for hundreds of thousands of years, an arbitrarily chosen consensus of “normal people” have been oppressing these poor vampires that have apparently always existed and most certainly aren’t just attention seeking weirdos using the internet to get said attention? Wow, how can we sleep at night, knowing how evil we have all been?
In some sense, vampirism reveals the difficulties of human self-definition in a time of tolerance. Few are prepared to accept vampirism as an authentic mode of being, but, having done away with most traditions of objective value, it’s hard to mount a sustained critique of the pseudo-undead.
The study recommends that helping professionals step around this problem altogether; what is required is for therapists and the like “to be open, nonjudgmental, and sensitive to human diversity”.
Translation: Mollycoddle them.
I guess I can kind of understand this logic. These people are obviously mentally ill, and there’s no point unnecessarily upsetting them too much. You never know what the consequences could be.
So a social worker who cannot embrace “real vampirism” can no more support a vampire than can a bondage fetishist be supported by a puritan therapist: personal biases will cloud the ability for a “therapeutic alliance” – a trusting relationship between client and therapist – to form.
The therapeutic alliance is central to the success of mental health interventions. It is also predicated on the belief that clients do not need “fixing”, but rather need skills to be able to manage a range of different environmental, personal, and psychological factors.
This explains the study’s underlying premise. Namely, that therapists are not, nor do they want to be, responsible for correcting false beliefs about a person’s identity except in extreme cases. Doing so undermines the professional’s ability to administer care and is beyond the purview of the therapeutic alliance that informs their profession.
This makes a lot of sense. The therapy room is not the place to “enculture” someone.
Reading this, I can’t help but ask the obvious question. What happened to all these “real vampires” in less compassionate times? I mean surely, if this is a real condition and not just people seeking attention, it must have existed long before the recent vampire fad, and therapists must have had to deal with people like this just as often back in the day…right?
It’s important to note this, because there is a subtle tendency to see particularly bizarre beliefs as being pathological, as if they demanded psychological attention. All things being equal, “real vampires” might not be suffering from a psychological condition at all.
You’re probably right. For every “real vampire” who has a psychological condition, there’s probably another who just does it for attention, or think it makes them special in some way.
Nor, however, do I think that they are an ontologically and metaphysically distinct group of beings. It seems more likely to me that they are the unintended and unwitting victims of years of value-neutral education than anything else.
For instance, back in 1943 the British author CS Lewis was lamenting how a new schoolbook, ostensibly about grammar, really educated students in the view that all beliefs and attitudes were mere feelings, immune from moral evaluation.
This is ironic, he noted, because all the while his community were desperate for well-formed, virtuous citizens. Instead, Lewis wrote:
We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.
An entire intellectual system has been constructed on shaky foundations. Today, following Lewis, we might say that we are shocked to find vampires in our midst.
The shrill insistence that education not impose particular values on young people has some intellectual basis, but it tends to leave them stranded without a guide in the difficult task of self-knowledge and understanding. No surprises that it occasionally goes awry.
The genuine belief that one is a vampire – and I’m sure there are other such tendencies in the dark, strange, pseudo-enlightened places of the internet – isn’t the responsibility of psychologists to correct.
Rather, I think it’s the task of teachers, and those responsible for the education system to provide not only knowledge, but formation. At the very least the lack of formative education is likely to be a major part of how identities like “real vampirism” form in the first place.
In this case, the solution isn’t – as the authors of the study argue – to be careful not to proliferate traditional vampire mythology – garlic, stakes, coffins and all the rest – which is likely to lead to microaggressions that could traumatise “real vampires”.
Rather, it’s to recognise that the quest for self-identity and meaning is one that is best done with some guidance.
I don’t really know how to respond to the rest of that. To be honest, it actually confuses me to no end. I’ll just leave it at that.
I wonder what kind of nonsense I’m going to read next?