Engaging With Research On Clinical Vampirism

Alyssa Diaz-Tucker

Cite: Crowley, Erika. “Retrospective Analysis of Renfield: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Mental Illness and Vampirism” View of Retrospective Analysis of Renfield: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Mental Illness and Vampirism, Journal of Multidisciplinary Research at Trent, 31 Dec. 2019, ojs.trentu.ca/ojs/index.php/jmrt/article/view/312/193.

Define: Crowley in her article “Retrospective Analysis of Renfield: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Mental Illness and Vampirism”, analyzed the relationship between vampirism and mental illness as displayed by Renfield, the patient of Dr. Steward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Crowley suggests that mental illness is both the cause and the punishment for Renfield engaging in vampirism. Crowley provides research that identifies the cause of clinical vampirism to be prior psychological stressors that bring on the onset of schizophrenia like diagnosis that turn into clinical vampirism. She states that there are different levels of delusion as evidenced by the characters Dracula and Renfield’s behavior.

Understand: The argument of this article is that there is a clear relationship between the act of vampirism and mental illness and Renfield is a prime example of this case scenario. Crowley highlights the key differences between the ways in which vampirism is displayed by both Dracula and Renfield. In doing so, she is able to draw the distinction that Renfield has a more damaged mental state than Dracula, leading to his obscene acts of vampirism. The comparison between how Dracula is calm and powerful, versus how Renfield is erratic and delusional draws the conclusion that Renfield wishes to obtain the sanity exemplified by Dracula, and hopes to achieve this by drinking blood, however in doing so he creeps more towards the side of insanity. It is also suggested that Renfield’s vampirism may be an expression of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as he may have had an experience similar to that of Harker whilst in the castle, leading to his mental illness.

Evaluate: The research performed by Erika Crowley is substantial and logical to the field in which she is writing. Her hypothesis and findings correlate with the results of studies done on individuals experiencing clinical vampirism and individuals experiencing schizophrenia-like paranoia episodes. This paper draws a clear relationship between what factors lead to vampirism, and the use of Renfield as a subject in her study was successful in the portrayal as Renfield as a patient of clinical vampirism.

Distinguish: This article has assisted me in my understanding of how vampirism had manifested itself in Renfield and key psychological factors that can lead to clinical vampirism. Although I feel like I have gained knowledge from reading this article, I would like to build off of Crowley’s in-text findings and expand my research to include how vampirism as depicted in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is related to well known “real vampires” such as Peter Kürten and Trenton Chase.

Create: I appreciated the way in which Crowley examined Renfield and how his upbringing could have related to the experiences that Harker had while being held captive in the castle. I also found her analysis of Renfield’s symptoms of illness compared to the symptoms displayed by Dracula to be quite fascinating. I intend to apply her analysis of the characters and their mental illnesses to my research of Clinical Vampirism in regards to how it appears in the text. I plan to build off of her findings in order to come to a more broad conclusion about how Dracula has impacted the psychological field.