The bite as imaginable stress


Donald Morse begins his survey of vampiric lore on this note:

“During the cavemen era, the ‘fight or flight’ stress response was appropriate during an imminent attack by a fanged, ferocious, wild beast. If the attack was successful, the victim was often bitten to death. Currently, most of us become stressed by less obvious physical stressors and more frequently by psychological and social stressors….” (181) His linking of this to the popularity of vampiric lore in the 90s is a little short on argument, but there is some sense in making this point….

The vampiric literature seems to enjoy a sensory approach and ‘being bitten’ is a physical experience most of us can imagine. ‘They’ say that people tend to be more frightened of a knife attack than a gunshot wound because a cut is something we have all experienced and have sensory data on which to draw when imagining this possibility. A gunshot wound, by contrast, is not something the average person has felt – and so its imagination is less physically real and frightening. I mention this because I wonder if the ‘vampiric bite’ does invite a sensory engagement with the story… ??? a thought!

Ref: 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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