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What is Renfield's Syndrome?

Niki Foster
Niki Foster
Niki Foster
Niki Foster

Renfield's Syndrome, also called clinical vampirism, is a rare psychiatric disorder in which the sufferer feels a compulsion to consume blood. The disorder, identified by clinical psychologist Richard Noll in 1992, does not appear in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). According to current psychiatric terminology, this disorder is classified as schizophrenia or paraphilia.

The condition is named after the character Renfield in Bram Stoker's 1887 novel Dracula. Renfield is a mental patient who consumes flies in the belief that he will absorb their life force. Eventually, he begins feeding flies to spiders and spiders to birds, then consuming the birds, to obtain a greater concentration of life force. People who suffer from this illness commonly believe that they obtain some sort of power or strength through the consumption of blood.

An individual experiencing the need to drink blood suffers from a psyciatric disorder called Renfield's Syndrome.
An individual experiencing the need to drink blood suffers from a psyciatric disorder called Renfield's Syndrome.

Sufferers of Renfield's Syndrome are overwhelmingly male. The disorder is typically sparked by an event in childhood in which the sufferer associates the sight or taste of blood with excitement. During puberty, the feelings of attraction to blood become sexual in nature.

The condition typically follows three stages. In the first, autovampirism or autohemophagia, the sufferer drinks his own blood, often cutting himself in order to do so. The second stage is zoophagia, which consists of eating live animals or drinking their blood. Obtaining animal blood from a butcher or slaughterhouse for consumption also falls into this stage.

Renfield's Syndrome is most commonly seen in males.
Renfield's Syndrome is most commonly seen in males.

In the third stage, true vampirism, the sufferer's attention is turned to other human beings. He may steal blood from hospitals or blood banks, or drink blood directly from a living person. Some individuals commit violent crimes, including murder, after entering this stage.

Though Renfield's Syndrome is newly named and has not yet been accepted into the DSM, it is not a new disorder. Noll noted apparent references to the disorder in German psychiatrist Richard van Krafft-Ebing's 1886 text Psychopathia Sexualis and speculated that Stoker may have been familiar with Krafft-Ebing's work.

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a TheHealthBoard editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

Learn more...
Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a TheHealthBoard editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

Learn more...

Discussion Comments


I'd like all the supernatural and twilight freaks to just stop. Just stop for a minute. Yes, I get it. I'm a huge fan of "Supernatural." (I hate Twilight though, so I don't know about that) and I've had those moments where I just think, "wouldn't it be really cool if I could be a vampire? Or a leviathan?" But think about it. This is a mental disorder, or disease.

Yes, it is named after the infamous "Dracula" story, but it's a real, serious thing. I don't know if I have this, and if I do I am in the first stage, but I am not going around saying I do have vampirism. I highly doubt most of you people on here really have the disorder and if you truly think you do, I recommend you see a doctor. It is a very rare disorder, and it's tied to schizophrenia, or paraphilia. That's not something cool. Very few people have this, so don't just self-diagnose yourself, because that's not how it all works.


Ever since I was a young child, I have always drank my blood from my wounds. I had only cut my finger once when I just couldn't hold back. I do get extremely aroused to the point to where I can't sit still if I either see blood, think about blood, or think about someone else sucking my blood.

I have had a few thoughts of other methods in obtaining blood, like through blood banks. But it is not worth the risk of going to jail. I really am not sure if I have this syndrome or not, regardless it doesn't matter if I do or don't. I still do or have done everything listed above. I just hope one day someone can make us some synthetic blood that tastes just as good.


I'm 15 and have been having the urge to try and drink human blood for a few years now, and the temptation is getting stronger.

I think this is strange because first, I'm a vegetarian and would never drink an innocent animal's blood. Also, I have a much stronger pull telling me I want to try someone's blood other than my own. I don't know if it's that much of a big deal because other people do it, right?


I'm female and I started slitting the top of my wrists because I wouldn't be able to miss my veins if I did it "properly". But I started it about the time I was ten (I’m fifteen now) I finally stopped, but now it's come back somehow. I slit them for the blood and ever since I started again, I won't eat anything. I try to, but the sight of most foods makes me want to vomit.

I'm scared to tell my parents about it though, because they'd yell at me for it. I once drank from my friend when she had a cut and she freaked out a little, so I don't usually go anywhere unless I have to. The sight of blood makes my heart pound and ache sometimes. I started this again almost a month ago and haven't been able to eat anything except for a few meals because I would force myself so my parents wouldn't find out. I don't know how to tell anyone close to me about it.


Well, I think I might have this. Sort of I don’t know how this crap started, but anyway, I’m a guy, so I put that as number one on your lists of why I might possibly have this.

I usually am not aroused by blood, and if I am, it’s not much at all. I usually just love the taste, and only will, like others who’ve posted here, take advantage of my wounds and stuff. I can’t get to the point of cutting myself, and after a while, I started thinking that there might be something such as health issues that might come with this in the long term. So I went online and did a little research, and found out about Renfield’s Syndrome.

I can live without blood, but I kind of have this craving for it. I will usually now peel off the chapped parts of my lips, and when I think about blood, I first remember how “good” it tastes and stuff and the smell. The smell is what I think causes the craving. Just thinking about blood makes me feel hungry.

As I said before, I can live without it. I don’t consider myself a vampire, because I find that to be pretty stupid. I can’t really cut myself or whatever, because one, friends and family would notice, but though I think the blaming could go to one of my two cats for that. (but I love them and would never hurt them.) and two, it would hurt. I know because I’ve got plenty of my own knives at home and on more than one occasion have accidentally cut myself.

I can’t see myself going for living animals’ blood, because I really like animals and I think I want to be a veterinarian. I think I could see myself going for someone else’s blood, but I don’t freaking know. I don’t want my family or friends to know because then I’d probably become disowned and shunned for eternity or something. I have ADHD, but I don’t think that has anything to with this. I’m 14, by the way.


It confuses that someone seems to have skipped the first two stages, and say that one can only be a cold blooded murderer if they like to drink blood, and if they have not (yet) killed anyone, then they are just make believe, even though they already stated that they don't at all think they are vampires. Sorry, had to get that out.

I don't know if I have this, something else or 'only' have Asperger's. I know I've liked the taste and sight of blood from early childhood and that I have always been reopening my wounds to taste and see blood. About two years ago I started creating the wounds myself, and started pulling out hair everywhere. That's said to be trichotillomania (pulling out hair, picking the skin open and so on), but it never described the interest or licking of blood.

The best is that I can't get help, because I have my school to take care of. Yay, triple hooray for being mentally unstable!


I've always had a fetish for drinking blood. I never thought anything about it before except now I'm cutting my wrist to drink the blood from it, slitting my lips and tongue for it, drinking blood from raw meat, and I drank blood from a cut on my friend's throat, from the wounds of about three other people and I've even paid others money to consume their blood. I am female. Could I have Reinfield's Syndrome?


I didn't realize how many other people experience this too. For me, I think I might have it, but I don't want to be pretentious. Every time I see or smell blood, I feel my stomach muscles tighten and I start feeling my heart rate increase. Then it's like I want to punch something if I don't get it.

I can only go a certain amount of time before I have to drink it again. I often cut myself to drink my blood and then I experience a feeling of euphoria, then numbness. Plus the pain of the cuts and the smell arouses me. I know it won't give me superpowers and I know I am human, but when I taste or smell blood, especially around other people, I become more sadistic and feel more dominating.

I am female, though. I often have thoughts and dreams of self-rape and have very a overpowering, sexual alter-ego and have also heard that masochism often accompanies Renfield's syndrome. I am a clear masochist. I read the symptoms and I fall under almost all. I lost my virginity the first time I tasted my own blood, so I think that triggered my carousel.

I often have to remind myself to calm down when getting intimate with other people, especially if I smell the pheromones. I am 17 and want to know if I have Renfield's syndrome, or if I just have a fetish for blood?


I looked up something like "I like to drink blood" or something like that a few months ago and just got up the courage to write this. I've loved picking my scabs to smell and get as much blood as possible from myself. I'm a girl and I'm 15.

I'm very sure I'm in the first stage. And very often I fantasize about having sex and biting me or my partner to consume the blood. Although I could never physically bring myself to harm myself, I take advantage of my injuries.

I often feel as if I should kill people or act extremely violent for no good reason. I do not believe myself to be a "vampire" or anything like that but I do have the compulsions to devour blood. I have bouts of thoughts of witches or stabbing motions and strange thoughts. Thank god I have self control! Maybe the reason they think most men have this illness is because we have more self control, or are really good at not being caught red handed or found guilty.


Would it be wrong of me to offer blood to my friend who has been diagnosed with this condition?

I'm happy to do it, but the line which states that the diagnosed person can become dangerous once they've entered the third stage has me a little bit worried. Is there a way to overcome this possible danger somehow?


I'm not sure if I should get help for this. I mean, I used to drink blood constantly and think about murdering people just for the blood, but I never killed anyone.

It's suppressed over time, so I don't know if its just emotions or a disorder. I still have the desire to drink blood, but I just don't want to hurt anyone, including myself, plus I know that I don't need it.


I'm a girl too, and I cut myself and drink my blood.

They won't understand, and there aren't vampires; it's just a term of this syndrome.


Oh, come on. This syndrome is associated with very serious mental illnesses and cannot be self diagnosed. Twilight people, you don't have this! Stop deluding yourselves. Once you start running around killing people, then you'll truly have it. And once again, this is not something you can self diagnose! if you are seriously worried, go see a psychiatrist.


There is no diagnostic criteria for this because it's not accepted as a real disorder if you cut yourself, feeling a strong desire to see your blood, find it hard to stop and/or eat the blood. It's self harm and if I were you, I'd look at the physical symptoms of stress and the diagnostic criteria for for depression.

If you have a strong desire to hurt others I would suggest getting psychological help.

If you believe drinking blood gives you powers, I suggest getting a psychological evaluation. This could be a symptom of schizophrenia.

If you get sexually aroused by blood in any way, you're not mentally ill unless it's the only way you can get aroused and you get aroused by something not necessarily sexual to do with blood, e.g., the sight of blood alone. Which would be classed as a paraphilia.

If your issues related to blood don't significantly effect your life, you're not mentally ill. If you have a mental illness, it has to get in the way of your happiness significantly. If it's just something weird you like doing, which doesn't have negative consequences, it's not a mental illness. Mental illness can't make you happy unless it also makes you very unhappy. Hope this helps.


I can smell blood from really far away and i used to cut myself all the time because i love the smell and taste of blood. Oh, and also every time i smell or even think about blood i get this really weird feeling in my chest.


I fail to see how this is a mental disease, any more than having a foot fetish or being a dom or sub in BDSM is a mental disease.

Just find a (certified non-STD-carrying) loved one who's willing (or better yet, eager) to donate you blood, and be happy. No need for the damaging labeling. Too many people are labeled "mental" by our society just for being different or more sensitive emotionally.

Some are fascinated with taking blood, and well, there are others who are just as fascinated with getting drained so it's just a matter of going out and finding each other.


I think that most of you who think you have it really do not. It also doesn't matter if your eye teeth are sharp and you burn easy. I mean, like get a grip. Vampires are not real!

I'm the palest person at my school, have sharp eye teeth, burn when in the sun for only 10 minutes and I have cut myself and I do not claim to have it.

I personally think that there aren't this many people affected by this and that you all are just playing make believe. Only true mental people have this condition.

And I am only posting this anonymously because it is making me and it won't let me put my e-mail in here. I also like to bite and be bitten and still do not have this. If I don't have this, I highly doubt some of you that claim you do actually have it.


I hate vampire crap or anything related to it. Vampires stink. Such stupid pubescent fantasies. lycans and werewolves are way cooler. but paraphilia huh? i see. i definitely understand the sexual rush that comes from consumption. I'd never thought of it this way.


My god, some of these people.

This syndrome is a 'disease', defined as 'an impairment of health or a condition of abnormal functioning'. It is not recognized by the DSM, therefore it is not an acclaimed disease, therefore it is all psychological.

And psychology still remains compiled of theories, so if you have some strange fascination with the consumption or viewing of blood, you cannot claim to have Renfield's Syndrome, because it is not a disease.


okay ladies who have this (and yes i am female as well), learn to read. It says "mostly" male and that means yes, a female can have this, but generally men are the ones who live with this disorder. They aren't saying you can't have it, just that statistically it's less probable for you to have than it would be for the males.


if i have this,should i see a doctor or a psychiatrist?


O.K. twilight freaks, lets read the last line again together, "Renfield's Syndrome is classified as schizophrenia or paraphilia."

Quick little lesson here, # 1- Schizophrenics suffer from delusions and abnormal thinking, therefore they wouldn't be searching online for a name to slap on their disorder.

#2-A Paraphilia is a person who gets off on having sex with a non human object, or a child or who enjoys watching the suffering and humiliation of their "partner". Not so cool anymore, huh?


I find it overwhelmingly amusing that such a "rare psychological disorder" happens to coincidentally be something that like half the the commentators suffer from. Funny how that works out when the masses self diagnose.


I have a friend of mine that wants blood. He doesn't really want to hurt people and he only drinks from people who is willing. I told him he can have some of my blood. But I want to know how I can convince him not to do it because I think it is not right.


I think I might suffer from this, and I'm a girl. I used to cut myself to drink the blood, and blood turns me on really bad. But only human blood, mainly just my blood and my boyfriend's blood. It just tastes good.


First of all. People that claim to be vampires because of this disease are stupid. Vampires are legions of the undead. Last i checked most of the people claiming to be vampires were most likely living. I do believe in this disease but it's not to be confused with yourself being a vampire.


That whole 'mostly male' thing is bull. i'm female and I have this disease.


i think i have this syndrome, because to me, blood tastes good. And i cut myself too. but can this syndrome have other effects?


If someone has this disease does that really mean they're psychotic?


I think I might have renfield's syndrome because I used to cut myself for the taste and sight of blood. ever since I was little I have always been fascinated with vampires and I never would have thought there was such a disease as this so I might need more help understanding this disease.


Is it possible to self-diagnose this? It may be my case, but my eye teeth are sharp (naturally) and I burn easily. Anybody?


I'm young and don't know what to do. I do not want to hurt people but it is coming to the point when it is the only thing on my mind. I do not know how much longer I can control it.


Ive read a couple of things about this.

My boyfriend has got it, which could make things really difficult. :/ thanks


So I think I have this. I have control of it, so is it really a problem? I mean really? if you don't hurt other people who cares?


everyone thinks I'm crazy because blood turns me on so much. but it just tastes so good i sometimes can't stop drinking it once i start. i don't think it's that weird but others say i need help.


Just cause you drink blood or get excited by blood does not mean you have this. especially with the "vamp" craze going on lately. you can walk down the street and see many people (mostly female) greatly into blood but only in a certain nature. most males portray these actions because honestly, they are driven by horomones for the sake of procreation and know that the Vampire is a seductive image they take that on in order to gain easier access to those who are seeking that particular thing.


i believe the mostly male part is said in the meaning that males are the most likely to carry through all three stages.


i also have it though i have not been diagnosed with it. when i was little i cut my self so i could lick it, (and paint with it). lately i have been biting myself and licking it. i don't know how to stop once i've started, unless someone comes into the room then i stop. i also have OCD which is not a good comination, and what is this about it being mostly a man thing? i'm a girl.


im also female and i have it.


My friends think I'm crazy. blood has always made me jumpy and excited. I feel the need to hurt people to get the blood but i have learned to control that want. Now i have proof that can actually back me up. Thanks.


I think i have this because ever since i had a bad nosebleed (There was blood everywhere!) and i tasted it. i've been obsessed with it. I don't drink the blood of live animals, but i eat really rare steak a lot and i've always wanted to get a boyfriend and suck his blood. I also get excited just by looking at it.


I not quite sure how *real* this is; I mean i have no doubt in my mind that there are people who do it; but im sure it's just for attention. I've met a few of these people at my time at a mental ward- one pulled a shank on me, trying to cut my arm- kind of creepy. I don't find these people 'vampires.' i find them desperate.


is it possible to like to drink your own blood in the first stage but still eat normal food??

i want to know.


oh its real all right. i was diagnosed with it when i was 12, after my dad cuaght me draining a rabbit. it requires constant control to help make sure you don't get too far into it. if you feel like this might descrirbe you, go and see a therapist. you owe it to yourself and family.


my interest started when i broke my nose and busted my lip a few years ago and i loved the taste of blood, i started biting my lip and a few times i cut myself. now i'm constantly researching and trying to understand myself better and help other people understand me as well. a few things in this caught my eye... "During puberty, the feelings of attraction to blood become sexual in nature." and "In the first...the sufferer drinks his own blood, often cutting himself in order to do so."

these apply to me(her not his)

it says that people who suffer from this disorder are primarily male; where as, I am female

idk what to believe cause there's so many explanations. what i need is help from an actual person in person.


Oddly enough, if there was anyone in Bram Stoker's novel who had a blood-drinking syndrome it wasn't Renfield, but one of the vampires... though it's for the best that the condition isn't known as Dracula's Syndrome. That could cause problems.


Yes, it is true, that's one of the bad things.

Sometimes, Renfield victims turn out to be cold blooded murderers...When i first figured out about this syndrome, i was shocked as well, and i've been researching it ever since.


This is amazing, I knew it was real, but no one believed me, now I can prove myself right, and get people to stop using "Vampires" as a mythical being, thank you!!!!!

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    • An individual experiencing the need to drink blood suffers from a psyciatric disorder called Renfield's Syndrome.
      By: Donald Bowers
      An individual experiencing the need to drink blood suffers from a psyciatric disorder called Renfield's Syndrome.
    • Renfield's Syndrome is most commonly seen in males.
      By: eldadcarin
      Renfield's Syndrome is most commonly seen in males.
    • Individuals suffering from Renfield's Syndrome may steal blood from hospitals.
      By: ksena32
      Individuals suffering from Renfield's Syndrome may steal blood from hospitals.
    • The first psychologist to study Renfield's syndrome believed that the condition stemmed from childhood trauma.
      By: fasphotographic
      The first psychologist to study Renfield's syndrome believed that the condition stemmed from childhood trauma.