Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person. Although vampiric entities have been recorded in many cultures and in spite of speculation by literary historian Brian Frost that the "belief in vampires and bloodsucking demons is as old as man himself", and may go back to "prehistoric times", the term vampire was not popularized until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe, although local variants were also known by different names, such as vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania. This increased level of vampire superstition in Europe led to mass hysteria and in some cases resulted in corpses actually being staked and people being accused of vampirism.
While even folkloric vampires of the Balkans and Eastern Europe had a wide range of appearance ranging from nearly human to bloated rotting corpses, it was the success of John Polidori's 1819 The Vampyre that established the charismatic and sophisticated vampire of fiction as it is arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century inspiring such works as Varney the Vampire and eventually Dracula.
However, it is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula that is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and which provided the basis of modern vampire fiction. Dracula drew on earlier mythologies of werewolves and similar imaginary demons and "was to voice the anxieties of an age", and the "fears of late Victorian patriarchy". The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, video games, and television shows. The vampire is such a dominant figure in the horror genre that literary historian Susan Sellers places the current vampire myth in the "comparative safety of nightmare fantasy".
A psychic vampire is a person or being who feeds off the life force of other living creatures. Psychic vampires are represented in the occult beliefs of various cultures and in fiction. As of yet there is no medical recognition or scientific proof supporting this purported phenomenon, although there was a 2007 scholarly survey carried out upon people claiming to be vampires, either psychic or sanguinarian (blood drinkers) that showed anecdotal evidence of a higher than normal incidences of certain illnesses and conditions such as anemia, fibromyalgia, and hemophilia. Whether or not they actually suffer from such conditions was not evaluated by medical professionals.
The term psychic vampire is sometimes abbreviated psy-vamp (or psi-vamp). Alternate terms for these entities include energy vampire, energy predator, energy parasite, and energivore, as well as psionic vampire, pranic vampire, and empathic vampire.
The term "energy vampire" is also used metaphorically, to refer to people whose influence leaves a person feeling exhausted, unfocused and depressed, without ascribing the phenomenon to psychic interference.
The concept of psychic vampirism appears in the mythology of many cultures, just as do blood-drinking vampires. Regions where belief in psychic vampires is common include Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Balkans and rural South America. Some North American Indian cultures, such as the Hopi, also share this belief.
The concept of both 'vampire' and homologously 'psychic vampire' can be interpreted to represent the issue of social parasitism applied to spiritually or emotionally weak persons; those who appear to "drain" strength from others.
Dion Fortune wrote of psychic parasitism in relation to vampirism as early as 1930, in her book, Psychic Self-Defense. Fortune considered psychic vampirism a combination of psychic and psychological pathology, and distinguishes between what she considers to be true psychic vampirism, and mental conditions that produce similar symptoms. For the latter she names folie a deux and similar phenomena.
The term psychic vampire was popularized in the 1960s by Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan. LaVey wrote on the topic in his book, The Satanic Bible, and claimed to have coined the term. LaVey used psychic vampire to mean a spiritually or emotionally weak person who drains vital energy from other people, or a paranormal entity within such a person, allowing the psychic draining of energy from other people. Adam Parfrey likewise attributed the term to LaVey in an introduction to The Devil's Notebook.
Others have defined a 'psychic vampire' in the more traditional sense. Michelle Belanger, has written a book entitled The Psychic Vampire Codex, which defines a psychic vampire as a person, who, from limited ability or complete inability, are unable to generate their own "life force", and must feed off of others, not just as an ability, but as a necessity, to maintain their youth, beauty and vitality, lest they wither away.
A modern literary interpretation of the process of transitioning from a normal human to an energy vampire, a being made from pure energy which no longer requires a physical body, can be found in Dr Silvia Hartmann's book "Vampire Solstice" 2006 as a metaphor for processes of actually existing energy exchanges.
The terms "energy vampire" and "psychic vampire" have been used as synonyms in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union, as part of an occult revival.
The theme of the psychic vampire has been a focus within modern vampire subculture. The way that the subculture has manipulated the image of the psychic vampire has been investigated by researchers such as Mark Benecke and A. Asbjorn Jon. Jon has noted that, like the traditional psychic vampires, those of vampire subculture believe that they 'prey upon life-force or 'pranic' energy'. Jon also noted that the group has been loosely linked to the Goth subculture.
Thanks to the internet and the modern new age and pagan movements, religious and spiritual views that are very alternative to mainstream views pop up all over the place. Often these people of abstract views like to form together and make groups. ( ). Some of these groups have formed cult like organisations with high entry fees and a social hierarchy system such as the church of the vampire and the Temple of the Vampire.
The Temple of the Vampire differs from the rest as it claims it is not faith based, but a cult interested in attaining immortality though scientific means. It has been, however, shown that the Temple of the Vampire isn't really that different from money-making cults such as Scientology.
Many of these groups have just become friends that feel they have something in common, but a few have gone on to try and be a positive influence on the community and to give back and improve the image that vampires have obtained, like House Kheperu. () Many of these groups have come to call themselves covens like their wiccan brothers and sister, but a term that remains a vampire one is the idea of a vampire "house".