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Tylim, I. (1998). The Vampire Game. Psychoanal. Inq., 18(2):281-290.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18(2):281-290

The Vampire Game

Isaac Tylim, Psy.D

The marked ambivalence elicited by bats in the popular imagination has found its most elaborate representations in vampire films. The attraction and repulsion inspired by vampires has offered multiple generations of moviegoers a teasing, at times painful, often thrilling or traumatic, cinematic experience. Vampirism seems to have exerted a fascinating allure on audiences, bringing to the screen a culturally mediated fantasy nurtured by centuries of references to blood sucking.

Vampire films are paradoxical signifiers both of the destruction of life and its opposite, the permanence of life. Malevolent, persecutory objects, the vampires may also appear as innocent victims, perennial mourners of eternal life, sufferers without relief, or neurotics with fangs. Vampires infect their victims with the virus of time and eternity, undoing the ominous threat of blood viruses, early death, and decay. Time limitations are reversed in intimations of eternity: the undead reign supreme in the night of time, with just the light and the crucifix deterring their spread.

Gottlieb (1994) has related the legend of the European vampire to object loss and fantasies of corporeal preservation. Using clinical vignettes from his patients, he postulated an unconscious vampire fantasy organization that emerges as a consequence of acute object loss. The vampire is in conflict over his hunger and the wish to devour others by cannibalistic means.

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