What Do the New Generation of Vampires Have to Say?

Oct 7, 2009

One of the ways we learn about custom is through the fairy tales our caregivers tell us. Stories that are carried through the ages have messages in them that are important for our development. Through the lens of depth psychology, we often learn about what is important to a culture by studying the stories that are popular within it. Stories that recycle throughout generations and change relevant to each generation’s uniqueness are particularly of interest.

In Bram Stoker’s original story, Dracula, (released in 1897), the vampires sucked blood to their victim’s ultimate demise, and any victim- human or animal would suffice. However in the latest twist on the theme, Twilight, the vampire legacy is being changed slightly, with some vampires choosing only the blood of animals.

What might the change in story line inform us about this very ancient fear, in depth psychological terms? Depth psychology starts by researching the symbol, and in this case, what does the symbol of a blood-sucking vampire reveal?

Blood represents life, and it can also represent creativity, especially in the sense that creativity is the energy needed to create life. In her book, On the Way to the Wedding, Linda Leonard explains the Dracula myth as revealing the nature of possession (both our human desire to possess and/or to be possessed). In our real lives we can see the myth show up in the form of obsessive jealousy, addiction, and of perpetually offering up one’s creativity (lifeblood) for the benefit of another. We might call the relationship between a vampire and its victim an (extremely unhealthy) co-dependent relationship.

If we’ve had many relationships (romantic or otherwise), we likely have at one point experienced the vampire myth come to life in a personal situation. It may be more subtle, but all of us share the tendency to draw the creativity from another.

In my view, the craze over Twilight, and even more importantly the story’s ability to find fans from many age groups and life situations, suggests a significant cultural change in the way we view relationships. To me, the Twilight vampires seem to be representative of an acknowledgment of our human tendencies to merge into one another (and suck the lifeblood of each other), but of a conscious attempt to restrict that tendency.

Do you think something is changing? Is the Twilight story reflective of a change in our cultural view of relationships? What do you attribute to its popularity?

Note:  I originally published this post on www.depthpsychologytoday.com on January 12, 2009

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