ISU professor: Self-identified vampires challenge clinicians

POCATELLO, Idaho (KBOI) -- Working with emerging alternative identities, such as self-identified vampires, may become a challenge for helping professionals.

DJ Williams, Idaho State University associate professor of social work, conducted a study on identities outside of the normal stereotypes because of its increasing commonality.

"We live in an age of technology and live in a time when people can select new, alternate identities to fit how they understand themselves better," Williams said.

Williams recently published the article "Do We Always Practice What We Preach? Real Vampires' Fears of Coming out of the Coffin to Social Workers and Helping Professionals" with co-author Emily Prior.

"The gist of the article is that self-identified vampires are probably more common than most people realize," Williams said. "A lot of people probably assume they are younger kids or young people who watch 'Twilight' or other pop-culture types of things. Yet, the real vampire community, which is self-defined by people who claim the need for extra energy (either blood or psychic energy), tend not to fit that demographic stereotype."

Williams says that helping professionals should be educated on alternate identities such as these in order to treat them without prejudice.

"People with alternative identities have the same set of issues that everybody has. People of all kinds sometimes struggle with relationship issues or have a death in (the) family or struggles with career and job-type issues," he said. "If clinicians are open and educated about this group they should be able to help the individual much better."

Self-identified vampires that interviewed for this study did not want to be judged as evil or viewed as psychotic to the public, Williams said. The study relates to a larger issue that society is seeing more alternative identities and practices that a lot of clinicians are not familiar with.