The Stressful Kiss


In a rather dry account of vampiric lore, Donald Morse gathered a number of vampiric traditions together twenty years ago.  His consideration of these traditions was provoked by the ‘vampiric craze’ of the early 90s. He pretty much just lists the traditions of various cultures in a series of categories (without analysing anything much).  It isn’t exactly a critical account and I couldn’t decide what point was being made (especially given its publication in a medical journal), but there are possibly a lot of leads to follow from this article.

His concluding comments are reflective of his approach – and really quite amusing. In his penultimate paragraph, he wrote: “watching vampire movies, reading vampire books, and engaging in similar type undertakings can be positive diversionary methods for interested individuals to avoid or evade stress-related problems. This is exemplified by the following quotation by Lokke Heiss, MD…. ‘Even physicians and others in the healing arts can get vicarious entertainment from watching a vampire character on screen fearlessly break all sorts of social taboos and do everything society says is wrong. It is a form of catharsis, a release.’ Occasionally watching a vampire movie or reading a vampire book is fine. However, just like watching an excessive amount of television can be deleterious, so too can excessive vampire reading and watching be damaging to one’s career and/or personal life.” (198)

I include his take on things vampiric here, because he almost surely represents a sector of society… he does also gather some information together, which could suggest directions for those interested (though there is no academic depth to his presentation of the popular traditions and there are more interesting accounts!).

The categories Morse breaks his collection of info into are: Stress Relevance; Origins; The Origin of Dracula; Cinematic Portrayals of Dracula and Other Vampires; How to Prevent the Formation of a Vampire; A Typical Vampire; How to Become a Vampire; How to Destroy a Vampire; Historical Vampires; Current Vampires; Sociological, Physiological, and Stress-Related Reasons for an Individual to Act as a Vampire; Anatomical, Physiological, and Stress-Related Aspects of Love, Vampire and Lethal Biting; Forensic Methods for Bite Detection; Sociological, Physiological, and Stress-Related Aspects of Vampirism; Dangers of Vampirism; Conclusions.

Note: the ‘stressful kiss’ he refers to is the bite of the vampire… He writes that the vampire’s bite “has been described as ‘the vampire’s kiss'” (193) Hence his title: Donald Morse (1993) ”The stressful kiss: a biopsychosocial evaluation of the origins, evolution, and societal significance of vampirism’ Stress Medicine 9; 181-199


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