Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Vampire, Dracula and Incest: The Vampire Myth, Stoker's Dracula, and Psychotherapy of Vampiric Sexual Abuse – review

Author: Daniel Lapin

First published: 1993

Contains spoilers

The old saying goes that you should never assume as it makes an “ass of U and me”, unfortunately that is what I did with this volume. I assumed it would be a study of the role of incest in vampire media (to be fair the volume has no blurb and the subtitle is not printed on the cover) and, as such, works like Mark of the Vampire came to mind (and its incest backstory, which was relegated to the cutting room floor).

Rather than that it appears that Lapin had a theory that some sexual abuse (and he concentrates on abuse of an incestual nature) was actually vampiric in nature. That there was an energy vampirism occurring within the abuse. Now, I am not a student of psychiatry and so perhaps am not qualified to say anything about the book but it struck me as, at best, fanciful.

Lapin states that those who believe in the scientific method would not believe his theorem as such vampirism is beyond scientific ken (well he got that right but that is a reason to dismiss his notion, rather than the scientific method). He suggests that many abused patients have a partiality to vampires and, implies therefore, that to be a fan of the vampire genre makes it seem that you were abused as a child and if you can’t remember, well then you’ve repressed said memory. That ignores that fact that, as a widely recognised popular but human looking nightmare figure, some abused persons might project the archetype into their exploration of their damaged psyche but, more so, it is convenient that the doctor can suggest that you have forgotten something rather than acknowledge that something is very wrong with his theorems.

So, what about Dracula? Lapin puts forward the theory that Stoker unconsciously was describing his own (and his siblings) sexual abuse… Let us take a step back. There is no evidence for this, which I am aware of, and whilst I can’t formulate a referenced denial I think to assume such an abuse is intellectually dangerous. Whilst not providing evidence Lapin does suggest that Bram’s mother (Charlotte) “did not care a tuppence” for her daughters. A Google for this reveals only 1 hit from McNally and Florescu’s “In Search of Dracula” and you may know my thoughts on the voracity of that tome. Indeed, Lapin uses their discredited assertion that Stoker knew much about Vlad Ţepeş as evidenced within the book.

He describes Dracula through the lens of abuse and it should come as no surprise that there is ostensibly a fit, given that the abuser, like a vampire, is a predator. His assertion that Dracula is an energy vampire and the use of blood in the novel (as a need for the vampire and in Lucy’s transfusions) is a metaphor, really falls on scrutiny – after all there were stories of energy vampirism pre-Stoker and there was even a novel of energy vampirism, Blood of the Vampire, released by one of Stoker’s acquaintances the same year as Dracula (NB the use of Blood in the title refers to “bad blood” and the inheritance of negative traits).

All in all I was left cold by the theorem and found it to be a case of crowbarring a pet theory onto Dracula. I cannot professionally comment on the psychiatric soundness of his theories, not being qualified to do so, but I instinctively felt them dubious. I did, however, spot some sources I wanted to check out so all was not a bust. 3 out of 10.


Gene Phillips said...

I haven't read the book, but it sounds like an attempt to import Freud's old seduction theory and attach it to Dracula.

I think there are some incestual themes in the novel, but I think they're a natural extrapolation from the idea of the walking dead, and don't necessarily indicate anything about the book's author or his personal life.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Gene, I agree that the author is certainly Freudian in outlook but he really does combine that with repressed memory theory.

Re this author projecting on to the author, I agree that it is doesn't necessarily indicate anything about Stoker's life and a lot is a stretch, done so to buoy his theory.

Thanks for stopping by and talking the time to comment - always appreciated.

KirsiM said...

Christ, what rubbish. I am interested of Gothics, including vampires in that genre, and no, my parents never raped me, Doctor Dirty.