True Vampires

Perhaps we’re not altogether human after all. Perhaps there is something about us that can be transformed into something subhuman or even superhuman.

Vampire Mystique

We have an ancient way to deal with the darkness, destruction, and wild passion that shadows the bright path of those who bask untroubled in the Light. We all know it’s there, the domain of the Shadow. But it takes a real monster – a werewolf, perhaps, or a vampire – to identify with the darkness, to seek to become one with it.

The myth shapes the impulse, and so the pathology of the conditioned mind readily follows the imagery at hand which is most resonant with the inner chaos experienced.

The 1998 edition of Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary tells us that the vampire is “a blood-sucking ghost; a soul of a dead person superstitiously believed to come from the grave and wander about by night sucking the blood of persons asleep, thus causing their death.”

The vampire has traditionally been understood as a mythical creature, a human being who has been dead and buried; who yet returns, revivified and intact, to travel about at night, attacking people and drinking the blood required to lend animation to its undead corpse. Legends from all over the world report fantastical creatures of a similar inclination, with regional variations.

Legends of vampire-like creatures are found in places as diverse as Greece and Scotland, Mexico, Brazil and China. While the Brazilian vampire might slip silently through the night on plush slippers, the Chinese vampire was more likely to practice funerary feng-shui by drawing down the power of the moon and stabbing victims with dagger-like porcelain nails.

In Mr. Vampire, a 1985 Chinese film by Lau Cheng Wei, contemporary Chinese vampires not only wield the full component of martial arts skills, they are also distinguished by a tendency to hop, rather than skulk or glide, and they come with detachable flying heads.

The origins of the modern vampire are shrouded in the mists from the mediæval castles of the Balkan and Carpathian mountains of eastern Europe. Many of the distinguishing characteristics of the folkloric creature originally known as the wampyr are still found in film, fiction and games.

Emaciated and foul-mouthed, the Transylvanian vampire had lush red lips, long sharp claws, hairy palms, and a piercing gaze. The Bulgarian vampire was remarkable for having only one nostril, while his Bavarian cousin slept with one eye open. The Russian vampire had a violaceous face, and openly cursed the Church. European vampires were often called witches, and were known for their black or red hair. Many had fangs; some had either a harelip or a persistent snarl.

The fearsome, cautionary phantasm the vampire presents is symbolic of the chaos that may befall the careless wayfarer. Most who hear these tales will be chastened into more low-risk behavior like staying out of graveyards at midnight. But then there are always the ones who want to know what it’s like to be as feared and powerful as these mythic creatures. The allure of becoming a vampire is the Mephistophelian promise of attaining superhuman powers, passing through solid walls, changing shapes, fleeing the noisome horde, frightening the horses, enjoying intense intimacy, and remaining forever young.

Of course there is more to it. The vampire myth is based on our most primordial fears. The paradigm of the psychic vampire is evident amongst the living. Psychic vampirism speaks of hungry ghosts, unsatisfied revenants looming up from the shadows to demand their due, attaching themselves to those filled with vitality, and sapping the vital substance of the soul to sustain their own morbid existence.

Then there are the real creatures whose passionate bloodthirst carries them once and for all beyond the pale. They were born human, but because of what they have chosen to do with their lives, they have become vampires. Their behavior is monstrous, and the root of the word monster tells us that this is a type of creature who heralds a warning. The warning implicit in the legend of the vampire relies on the subconscious awareness of the possibility of a breakthrough of raw passion and criminality that is inhibited by our social conditioning.

Vampires, cannibals, witches and ritual slayers of long ago and far away come to us shrouded in layer upon layer of glamorizing mythos, but the tight focus we have on our modern vampire killers strips us of our own delusions of their grandeur. True vampires show no interest in making a fashion statement at the annual Vampire Ball, in cape and whiteface, sporting elegant custom-made silver fangs and spooky contact lenses.

Vampire kind that seem dashing when cloaked in the romanticism of myth and legend, quite often seem simply depraved when encountered up close and in person, their glamorous mystique dispersed like a fetid miasma in the clear light of day.
Vampires are living parts of our humanity that people in a technological age have ignored. They have to do with the darkness and magic that is not given its due. If we ignore the unconscious, it becomes avaricious, voracious… the vampire is another side of our culture that needs a voice. ~ Stephen Martin

Clinical Vampirism

In his 1992 book, Vampires, Werewolves, & Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature, Richard Noll proposes that a cluster of vampiric symptoms be classified as a recognized syndrome:
It is proposed that the sexual blood-fetish syndrome defined here as clinical vampirism should bear a new eponymous label in future psychiatric treatments and be renamed Renfield’s syndrome in honor of the character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula who bore many of the classic signs and symptoms of the disorder.

The following are the proposed characteristics of Renfield’s syndrome: A pivotal event often leads to the development of vampirism (blood drinking). This usually occurs in childhood, and the experience of bleeding or the taste of blood is found to be “exciting.” After puberty, this excitement associated with blood is experienced as sexual arousal.

The progression of Renfield’s syndrome follows a typical course in many cases: Autovampirism is generally developed first, usually in childhood, by initially self-inducing scrapes or cuts in the skin to produce blood, which is then ingested, to later learning how to open major blood vessels (veins, arteries) in order to drink a steady stream of warm blood more directly. The blood may then be ingested at the time of the opening, or may be saved in jars or other containers for later imbibing or for other reasons. Masturbation often accompanies autovampiristic practices.

Zoophagia (literally the eating of living creatures, but more specifically the drinking of their blood) may develop prior to autovampirism in some cases, but usually is the next to develop. Persons with Renfield’s syndrome may themselves catch and eat or drink the blood of living creatures such as insects, cats, dogs, or birds. The blood of other species may be obtained at places such as slaughterhouses and then ingested. Sexual activity may or may not accompany these functions.

Vampirism in its true form is the next stage to develop – procuring and drinking the blood) of living human beings. This may be done by stealing blood from hospitals, laboratories, and so forth, or by attempting to drink the blood directly from others. Usually this involves some sort of consensual sexual activity, but in lust-murder type cases and in other non-lethal violent crimes, the sexual activity and vampirism may not be consensual. The compulsion to drink blood almost always has a strong sexual component associated with it.
Noll based his conclusions in part on the research of Herschel Prins, who has shown that since the 19th century, the term “vampire“ has been used within the psychiatric profession to describe numerous different behavior patterns, including not only love of blood or phlebophilia, but also necrophilia, necrophagia, and even necrosadism—extreme pleasures involving interference with the dead.

It will be noted, however, that the proposed terminology, “Renfield’s syndrome,” has not found acceptance in the medical lexicon, and remains merely a fanciful construct of popular culture.

Goths With Fangs

The Medium shows its People what life is, what people are, and its People believe it: expect people to be that, try themselves to be that. Seeing is believing: and if what you see in Life is different from what you see in life, which of the two are you to believe? For many people it is what you see in Life (and in the movies, over television, on the radio) that is real life; and everyday existence, mere local or personal variation, is not real in the same sense. ~ Douglas Rushkoff, Media Virus: Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture
Nocturnal fashion statements accessorized in a palette restricted to the colors of midnight and moonlight – the gaunt pallor, the studied, nonchalant languor and flatness of affect, the ubiquitous silver jewelry – are emblematic of magical thinking and a fascination with fantasy, all too often leading to incipient depression, delusions of grandeur and acute alienation, a morbid obsession with death, decay, misery and an 18th century-style romanticism worthy of The Sorrows of Werther. Beyond the mystique held in common with the modern Goth, we see in the vampire a willful denial of the aging process combined with an obsession with feeding on the blood or élan vital of others.

But modern vampires are more than just “Goths with fangs.” The drinking of blood is an act both palpable and symbolic. The symbolic aspect involves the ingestion of the essence of a living soul. The sensual aspect involves an intimacy that provides a pansexual and cryptosexual fetishistic thrill, and supports the exploration of the subtleties of transgenderal expression.

The Satanic Bible

In the constant interplay between the myths we teach ourselves and the forms those myths take in our lives, the real actions of real people provide the constellation of attributes that comprise the monstrous mythos.

When those struggling with chaotic impulses become aware of the details of these documented cases, they may develop parallel ideas about how the stress of their own chaos may be relieved, either by acting out the same paradigm, or inversely, by defending themselves against allowing this to happen. It’s by incorporating fantasized roles that we become what we will, and so by stepping through that looking glass, a mundane creature becomes a mythical one.

Though some are just in it for the fun, many vampires take their dark identity seriously indeed, and a significant number of those who have been apprehended committing crimes claim to be satanists. Anton LaVey‘s Satanic Bible has been found on more than one true vampire. Although this ubiquitous volume does not contain instructions on transformation into a vampire, LaVey did publish instructions on how to become a werewolf in a later volume. The lycanthropic ritual calls for summoning up the feral spirit from the atavistic reservoir of the unconscious mind. After becoming a wild beast, one would be unbounded, one would move about hungry and strong, willful and bold in the night – as much like a vampire as a wolf.

“The cult that I was raised in used a number of satanic mythologies for their ritual abuse,” says Johanna C. in her memoir, Wolf Girl Declassified. “They worshipped the sun god and they believed they turned into werewolves. Werewolves, like vampires, appear human by day, but by night they turn into wolf-like creatures that live on blood they drain from the necks or bodies of humans.”

Johanna describes how she was shown vampire and werewolf movies, so that when she began to recall the rituals, her emerging memories would be dismissed as she would be told that it was only her imagination and she must have been watching too many scary movies. “Perhaps this was also to create some allure about the werewolf rituals so that I would not resist so much. My cautious opinion is that werewolves are shape-shifters, dwelling in another dimension that is demonic. People can convince themselves that they turn into other creatures if they are strongly enough hypnotized, have believed this in their family line for generations, and have been exposed to extreme evil.”

Whether or not any of the killer vampires have actually adhered to the beliefs and practices described in the books they owned, their behavior nevertheless contains many similarities to the significance of the formalized rituals. And the simple facts place satanic writings within the ambit of the investigation into their motivations. But although the lifestyles of the killers may show some influence of the occult, the crimes that have come to light are rarely undertaken in any ritual manner, but more often occur as mindless brutality. Yet paradoxically, that same kind of uninformed chaos is exactly what is summoned up in the rituals of transformation.

Vampire Research

The Queen of Vampire Literature has conjured up a fantastical world so seductive that many of her fans actually try to climb through the looking glass and move in bag and baggage, leaving cloven hoofprints on the lady’s carpet. But when she is not crooning the tune of her deathless prose, when spell-binding time is over, the true beliefs of this author might come as quite a shock to vampire lifestylers and fans alike. “I don’t believe in vampires at all and I don’t believe in blood-drinking,” Anne Rice told the student reporters at the Loyola Maroon for their Halloween 2000 special issue. “Vampires don’t exist.”

And yet some go on behaving very much as if they do.

“You know you’re a vampire instinctively,” says one of the New Orleans tour-guides, as reported by the Loyola Maroon. “It’s like learning how to crawl or walk. It just happens.” While vampires are just “wannabes,” as a vampyre (pronounced vom-PEER in French), Vlad Tepes Knight claims that he only consumes blood out of necessity.

“I do drink blood, by consent only and from people like you; normal people,” Vlad insists. “I don’t go around sucking peoples’ blood unless they consent.”

In New York City, Dr. Stephen Kaplan, who has been the founder and director of the Vampire Research Center since 1972, compiled the only “vampire census” ever taken, first in 1981, then again in 1989. “There are about 500 vampires worldwide,” he announced in 1989, “and we’ve heard from several vampires in Australia.” In 1994, he claimed the known population had grown to upwards of 850 vampires. The self-proclaimed vampirologist has also developed a questionnaire that is used to assess the VQ, or vampire quotient.

An article in American Demographics quotes Kaplan on the characteristics of true vampires. According to Kaplan‘s research, the average woman vampire has green eyes, blonde hair, weighs 118 pounds, stands about 5’8” and appears to be about 20. The average male vampire is 5’10”, 150 pounds and looks about 21.

As paraphrased from his 1984 book, Vampires Are, traits of the modern vampire include:
  • Both physical and psychological needs.
  • A need to drink human blood every day.
  • Being very body-conscious, usually nice-looking, well-groomed, and looking younger than their age.
  • Believing that drinking human blood is going to extend their lives while keeping them young-looking.
  • Believing that if they stop drinking human blood they will age and possibly die.
  • Having strong personalities; typically taking charge in a conversation, demonstrating an ability to get people to do things their way, yet are generally genial, intelligent and good conversationalists.
  • Being “night people,” preferring to work at night and sleep during the day.
  • Never having been married, or had any children.
“Real vampires have a physiological need to drink a few ounces of blood several times a week,” Kaplan told Omni in 1994, downgrading the average frequency from his 1984 figures. “They rarely kill, and most are nice. Unlike their fictional counterparts, real vampires can tolerate daylight if they wear a sunscreen, and they don’t leave fang marks, rather, they bite very gently or use cutting devices.”

Katherine Ramsland, in her book The Science of Vampires, references a study of American vampires that was conducted in 1999:
At the end of the decade, Dr. Jeanne Keyes Youngson sent out a survey to assess the situation of the vampire in our culture. In her abridged report on the results, she tabulated the data based on the 713 returned questionnaires out of the 933 distributed. One part was directed to those who considered themselves vampires and the other was for people simply interested in the vampire genre. A vast majority were Caucasian and one-third participated in the vampire lifestyle. There were more females than males in the mix. Of those who believed they were vampires, most kept it secret and most claimed to wear fangs and drink blood. Interestingly, few thought that they would have a longer life span than nonvampires. Three-fourths admitted to having been abused as children. Of their favorite vampire movies, first on nearly every list was Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. Old vampires die hard.
In American Vampires: Fans, Victims, and Practitioners, Folklorist Norine Dresser reported that 27% of 574 high school and college students admitted that they thought vampires actually might exist. Of course, that was in California, but still, literally millions of people the world over enjoy vampire lore recreationally. Pretending to be a vampire is all in fun, and it’s perfectly harmless. Or is it?

The most essential personality characteristic of the modern vampire is a profound form of rebellion. There is a willful unleashing of the most primitive instincts as the daemon within is conjured up, and summoned to overwhelm and transform all more subtle impulses. The urge to bite, to snarl and tear, to suckle and throttle is indulged without inhibition by a true vampire. But long before it reaches that crescendo, the nascent vampire knows himself as an Outsider.

“When the Outsider is in his earliest stages – when he does not know himself or understand why he is ‘out of harmony’ with the rest of humankind – his hatred for men and the world makes him an unbalanced misfit, a man full of spite and envy, neurotic, cowardly, shrinking and wincing,” says Colin Wilson, in Religion and the Rebel. “What all Outsiders have in common is a desire to escape the endless confusion of the outer world and retreat deep into themselves. Truth is subjectivity, and is therefore to be achieved by becoming concentrated in oneself.”

Avatars of the modern vampire communities officially disavow violence amongst vampire kind, and prefer to stress the metaphorical aspects of the roles they choose to play in the Theater of the Real.

“This idea of people coming back from the dead is simply myth,” says Beverly Richardson, a vampirologist who studies and lectures about the mythic vampires of film and fiction. “If vampires did exist, I probably wouldn’t be interested in reading about them. For instance, I’m not interested in serial killers, because their existence is all too true and there is nothing particularly enjoyable or fun about that.”

Those who indulge recreationally in the mythos and mystique surrounding the modern vampire hope to do so without being tainted by association with despicable crimes. There is nothing particularly fun about being the kind of creatures who by their crimes, might be described variously as vampires, cannibals, necrophiles or ghouls. Our focus is on what happens after the fun stops, after the darkness swallows the sun. We are looking into the darkest side of the vampire‘s shadow, the domain of pure unmitigated evil incarnate.
Evil is an intense relationship that wants all the other person has to offer, without the fearsome bother of having the other person around. So you try to take what they have and kill them, or throw them away, use them up. Suck them try, and throw the empty husk away. ~ C. Fred Alford, What Evil Means to Us
Evil is always present, exactly like a pathogen. Just as the physical body resists infection by virus or bacteria, the psychic body resists infestation by frank evil – so long as the psychic immune system is robust and functioning. Factors bolstering up psychic health include a social network of love, respect, and reciprocal benefit; spiritual texts, teachings and fellowship; a body free of biological toxins; exercise and meaningful, vigorous work; a fully-functioning sex life; cultivation of plants and animals; musical and artistic enrichment.

Factors that contribute to breaking down the immunity to evil include intimate personal abuse, which consists of the victim having the pernicious evil of the abuser demonstrated and enacted as an object lesson and model, enforcing the pain, fear and rage of victimization while simultaneously providing a close look at the power and dominion represented by the abuser; rhetoric, artwork, and music specifically intended to incite and enjoin the audience in conscious practice of organized evil, promising fulfillment of desires which are otherwise frustrated; economic degradation combined with lack of education or opportunity to improve circumstances; voluntary or involuntary intoxication via substance abuse and industrial pollution; physical illness, infirmities and inadequacies, especially those perceived as socially unattractive.

Each individual organism is inherently healthy by default; this is the essence of the gift of life. Ambient evil can and often does coexist without infecting/infesting the psyche. Evil is everywhere, and people do encounter it, handle it, and work with it, without having it enter into their own soul, occupy it, and drive out the original healthy soul. As the factors contributing to vulnerability accrue, the psyche becomes more likely to succumb to evil, just as factors providing resistance can strengthen the psyche and prevent an infection.

Rhetoric, songs and visual arts, slogans and symbols – all have the ability to influence the human mind. So does human behavior – personal interactions as well as more far-reaching performance art, political and socioreligious acts that serve as models for millions.

A contagious idea can operate exactly like a virus. It can be carried from one mind to another, invading the very core of a person, and transforming their psyche into that foreign substance, which in turn becomes infectious with that same essence to the next mind and the next. And that same form of transmission occurs in the forced transaction between predator and prey.

A healthy person, regarding an evil one, may have a sense that what they are seeing is sick or insane. But someone who is thoroughly infected with the essence of evil is not sick in the medical or even psychiatric sense, because there are no drugs or therapies which are known to provide a cure.

The only way the damage that evil does to the soul can be mitigated is by immersion in every variety of therapeutic influence. This is neither quick, cheap nor simple. A quantity of fortifying influences simply may not be available. This may account for the pervasiveness of evil in circumstances in which pathogenic factors are prevalent.

There is no use protesting that vampires are “only” imaginary creatures who do not “actually” exist. The history of malignant transformation has provided a body of texts, images, and dramatis personae. There has been widespread word-of-mouth propagation of the idea of the healthy human mind crossing over into the penumbra of evil, pursuant to the perennial promise of power through conscious cruelty.

Thus the fabled vampire becomes a modern reality, taking the form of the fevered mind driven by fear and superstition layered over dark currents of narcissistic rage. As the cloacal emotional miasma at the core of the broken soul creates a pressure that requires an outlet to express its primal urges, so the vampire rises up from our cosmic consciousness.

The vampire lives only in darkness and curses the light, sucks vital substance from living souls, strikes out in fear, spite and cruelty. A person may become a vampire in fact, whether or not they see themselves as such. Sometimes the entire fatal drama is enacted entirely unconsciously, as the blood predator descends to a primitive level of consuming human essence without having any idea of what they are doing or why. Others are more organized. Insofar as they are conscious of the direness of their dilemma, they require the contrival or adoption of a conceptual frame of reference that will support their mode of antithesis.

That’s where vampire literature, role-playing games, movies, books, comics, songs and websites come in. They provide the script for the disaffected soul who is seeking a way to vent their own personal angst.

Sure, connoisseurs might delight in a recreational frisson of fright, just as one might toss a dash of hot sauce on the eggs. But there are those who are disturbed enough and vulnerable enough and otherwise predisposed enough that the entertainment comes together with their malaise like nitro and glycerine.
Instead of being at the mercy of wild beasts, earthquakes, landslides, and inundations, modern man is battered by the elemental forces of his own psyche. This is the World Power that vastly exceeds all other powers on earth. The Age of Enlightenment, which stripped nature and human institutions of gods, overlooked the God of Terror who dwells in the human soul. ~ Carl Jung

People are talking about...

True Vampires

Burt Kearns
Documentary filmmaker & Author, Tabloid Baby

Vampires exist! They’ve been among us for centuries, and they’re hiding in plain sight today. Sondra London proves it beyond a reasonable doubt in this incredible work of investigative reporting, historical sleuthing and forensic interpretation. Beginning at the intersection of mythology and the latest headlines, she follows the trail of history’s most monstrous killers around the world, and finds the connections as few have dared and too many have overlooked. This is scary stuff! A frightening, fascinating page-turner that drives a stake into the heart of disbelievers, turns true crime into literature and somehow even humanizes the hideous criminals who are driven by a bloodlust they can’t control. With TRUE VAMPIRES, Sondra London has unleashed an unholy Bible that criminologists, journalists and historians will use as a textbook, and she shows the world the talent and courage that many in the journalism field have known about for years.

Clifford Linedecker
Author, The Vampire Killers

If you've ever wondered if vampires really exist in human form, Sondra London has written an absolutely absorbing book for you: TRUE VAMPIRES. The current crop of menacing blood drinkers are all here, real life killer vampires lurking in the shadows of cemeteries and prison cells from Florida to Paris, along with the legendary vampires of the distant past. London's riveting and forceful study of the vampire netherworld is an adventure you shouldn't miss. But beware: You may never sleep with the light off again.

Michael Newton
Author, The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers

If you believe bloodsuckers dwell only in myths and movies, think again. London rips the lid off, in this inside view of a ghastly subculture as real - and as deadly - as it is difficult for "civilized" minds to conceive. Prodigious research and compelling prose make TRUE VAMPIRES Sondra London's most impressive work to date.

Jack Olsen
Author, Misbegotten Son, Predator

Sondra London knows her vampires - not the fictional ones who spring full-blown from the heads of novelists but the genuine articles, the real vampires who kill and suck blood and leave a scarlet trail of terror in the night. TRUE VAMPIRES is not for the squeamish, but connoisseurs of true crime will find it almost too good for the genre. Sondra London has always been a superb journalist and writer, and this book is her best.

Dr. Franklin Ruehl
Host/Producer of the cable TV series, Mysteries From Beyond The Other Dominion

Did a contemporary Cambodian vampire drink his victims' blood to cure himself of AIDS? Is one of Japan's foremost writers guilty of once having killed and devoured a college coed in Paris? Was the Russian monster known as "Iron Teeth" fond of human-flesh stews? These are among the myriad of intriguing questions answered in Sondra London's masterpiece, TRUE VAMPIRES, a genuine work of high scholarship on this sanguinary subject. While her focus is on modern hematophiles, she spans the corridors of time to unearth vampiric themes throughout history, such as Jesus' admonition to his disciples to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, the unholy crimes committed in 1400 Scotland by a clan of flesh-ingesting cave dwellers, and the despicable acts of Hungary's female vampire, Countess Erzsebet Bathory! Accordingly, this book carries my highest commendation!

Harold Schechter
Author, The A-Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers

Anyone who cherishes the comforting belief that blood-sucking fiends are simply a figment of the Gothic imagination will never sleep peacefully again after reading Sondra London's encyclopedic survey of the vampire phenomenon. Covering every aspect of this darkly fascinating subject--from myth and folklore to history and psychology--her book is at its unnerving best in revealing the existence of the monsters among us: those real-life beings possessed by an unslakable thirst for human gore. Even the most widely read true crime aficionado will learn something new and shocking from virtually every page of this astonishing volume. London has produced a classic of the genre.

Brad Steiger
Author, The Werewolf Book: An Encyclopedia of Shapeshifting Beings

Far from the sensual, seductive image of the vampire made popular in romantic fiction and motion pictures, there lies a dark and dangerous being, monstrously human, rather than preternatural. The real vampires among us are not harmless, role-playing "Goths" with their fake fangs, swirling capes, and whitish, "undead" makeup, who attend nightclubs where every night is Halloween, but individuals who truly thirst for blood and do not hesitate to take human life to satisfy this perverse need. The traits of the real vampire may also include a ghoulish fascination with corpses and even a taste for human flesh. We are fortunate to have such a guide as Sondra London to keep us on a safe passage through a world that is nightmarish, grisly, gruesome, and all the more frightening because this book is not merely the creation of an imaginative author who wants to give us a good scare, but the product of a darn good investigative journalist who warns us that there are, indeed, real vampires.

Maury Terry
Author, The Ultimate Evil

An informative, chilling look deep inside a dangerous psychological subculture most of us wish didn't exist. In TRUE VAMPIRES, author Sondra London travels a harrowing road many would fear to tread.

Colin Wilson
Author, Mammoth Book of the History of Murder

Vampires ought not to exist - that is a statement with which every sensible person will agree. Yet the research of Sondra London has revealed that on this matter, common sense is mistaken. Her account, which is destined to become a classic of the literature, ranges from Hungary in the 17th century to America in our own time, leaving no doubt that vampirism is more than a superstition - more, even, than a rare psychological illness: it is a reality that deserves to be taken into account by all students of paranormal research. The author, best known as a fine criminologist, here reveals herself as a remarkable historian.