'Real' vampires reluctant to 'come out of the coffin' to social workers – barmy prof

Of course there are real vampires, I have surveyed them

Genuine, blood-drinking vampires lead difficult unlives and are often reluctant to "come out of the coffin" and reveal the fact of their vampirism to social workers and other care professionals, a new study suggests.

The paper, titled Do we Always Practice What we Preach? Real Vampires' Fears of Coming out of the Coffin to Social Workers and Helping Professionals was published in Critical Social Work, a peer-reviewed journal based in Canada.

The study suggests that authentic vampires, as opposed to "lifestyle" vampires (read: goths) are "distrustful of social workers and helping professionals and preferred to 'stay in the coffin' for fear of being misunderstood, labelled, and potentially having to face severe repercussions to their lives".

The study has this to say on what makes a "real" vampire, as opposed to a mere lifestyle one:

In contrast to the tremendous diversity of various lifestyle vampires, the essential feature of real vampirism is their belief in the need to take in “subtle energy” (called feeding) from time to time from a willing “donor”... Many real vampires report feeding on psychic or pranic energy... Some vampires, called “sanguinarians”, seem to prefer feeding by consuming small amounts of human blood (or animal blood), which can be easily obtained, among other ways, by making a tiny incision (ie., with a razor or scalpel) on the upper part of the donor’s chest and is then licked or sucked by the vampire. “Hybrid” vampires report feeding from more than one form (ie., psychically or from blood). It is generally expected within the community that vampires should act ethically and responsibly in feeding practices.

Led by Dr D J Williams and contributed to by PhD candidate Emily Prior, the study applied "qualitative measures, such as an open-ended questionnaire" to produce its results.

Alongside this, it used a "creative analytic practice (CAP) strategy in the form of poetic representation", to figure out how people who identified as "real vampires... feel about disclosing this salient identity to helping professionals within a clinical context".

Williams has made himself familiar with self-identifying vampires for almost a decade, and finds they come from a broad range of social backgrounds.

"They are successful, ordinary people," he said.

Although the study focused on "a people with a particular alternative identity", the paper suggests "its findings may also be relevant to people who adopt other alternative identities, such as goths, otherkin, furries, and specific BDSM identities".

Williams and Prior based their research on 11 self-identifying vampires, who they suggest had very regularly identified themselves as vampires and could be trusted as open and honest study participants.

"The real vampire community seems to be a conscientious and ethical one," Williams said. "Most vampires believe they were born that way; they don’t choose this [for themselves.]"

Prefacing their actual findings, the pair published "short responses in poetic form".

The use of poetic representation for this study preserves the raw, emotional power of participants' voices, while also inviting professionals to reflect upon potential contrasts and discrepancies between what we formally preach and how people with alternative identities may perceive and experience us.

Williams encourages social workers and related professionals to "learn more about alternative identities and communities, listen and learn from clients, strive to become more aware of our own potential biases and stereotypes, and interrogate and challenge common social discourses that pathologise and demonise.

"By doing so, social workers can establish trust with clients who have alternative identities and belief systems, provide services to a more diverse clientele and establish strong alliances that contribute to effective service."

D J Williams describes his interests as including "deviant leisure, forensic leisure science, forensic social work and sexual diversity".

"My research crosses sociology, social work and criminal justice, so this is the perfect department for me!" he writes. ®

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