By: Megan Gannon, News Editor
Published: 02/08/2013 03:46 PM EST on LiveScience
In a chilling case report, doctors in Turkey have described what they claim to be a real-life vampire with multiple personalities and an addiction to drinking blood.
The 23-year-old married man apparently started out slicing his own arms, chest and belly with razor blades, letting the blood drip into a cup so he could drink it. But when he experienced compulsions to drink blood "as urgent as breathing," he started turning to other sources, the doctors said.
The man, whose name and hometown were not revealed in the report, was arrested several times after stabbing and biting others to collect and drink their blood. He apparently even got his father to get him bags of the ghastly drink from blood banks, according to the report released today (Feb. 8) by the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. The case study was published last fall.
The doctors said they found traumatic events in the man's life leading up to his two-year bloodsucking phase. His 4-month-old daughter became ill and died; he witnessed the murder of his uncle; and he saw another violent killing in which "one of his friends cut off the victim's head and penis," the researchers write in the journal article. [The 9 Most Bizarre Medical Conditions]
The man had been seen talking to himself, and he claimed to be tormented by an "imaginary companion" who forced him to carry out violent acts and attempt suicide. He also had memory gaps in his daily life and reported instances of being in a new place without any idea of how he got there.
"Possibly due to 'switching' to another personality state, he was losing track during the 'bloody' events, did not care who the victim was anymore, and remained amnesic to this part of his act," the report said.
The doctors, led by Direnc Sakarya, of Denizli Military Hospital in southwestern Turkey, ultimately diagnosed the man with dissociative identity disorder (DID), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic depression and alcohol abuse. To their knowledge, the man is the first patient with "vampirism" and DID.
Dissociative identity disorder was made famous by the story of Shirley Mason, or Sybil, who was diagnosed as having 16 separate personalities as a result of physical and sexual abuse by her mother. The authors of the vampire case study note that DID is often linked to childhood abuse and neglect. The blood addict's mother apparently had "freak out" episodes during his adolescence in which she attacked him, but the man also claimed to have no memory of his childhood between the ages of 5 and 11.
In a follow-up six weeks after he was treated, the doctors said the man's blood-drinking behavior was in remission, but his dissociative symptoms persisted. He also apparently insisted that his "drugs were merely sleeping pills, they would not cure him."
It's not clear whether the man suffered any health consequences because of his gruesome habit, but the human body isn't well adapted for digesting blood. While small quantities may be harmless, anyone who consumes blood regularly runs a risk of haemochromatosis (iron overdose) or contracting blood-borne diseases if they're sourcing it from other people.
And, of course, this man is not a true vampire in the mythical sense, a character most famously represented by Dracula and whose existence is tied to superstition.