Ask Dr. Freud: Oedipus and vampires

Dear Dr. Freud,

I read recently that your theory of the Oedipus Complex can account for the popularity of vampire stories in contemporary literature and film. Can you explain the connection?





Dear Vampfan,

As you know, the myth of Oedipus, like so many of the stories through which a civilization defines itself, launches with the murder of the father. Vampires, because they are both immortal and virile, thwart this basic mythical premise right from the start. Thus the figure of the vampire erects a powerful counter-myth to our notions of progress, inheritance and enlightenment.

Take Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for example.  Dracula is said to be the most frequently adapted book of all time (films, radio dramas, operas, graphic novels, breakfast cereals–you name it).  In this ultimate nightmare of the castrating father, the Count’s sin is not just that he refuses to pass away and make room for the next generation; it’s also that he is actively buying up downtown London real estate and seducing its young women.  So a diverse group of young men must put aside their own competitive quarrels and band together to rout Dracula.  Only when this fantastical parricide is complete can they carry on with their own procreative activities.

How this applies to the current generation of conscientious-yet-sexy young vamps is a different question altogether. Our fear of aging is stronger today than ever before, thanks to multibillion-dollar cosmetic, fitness and diet industries. Could be when it comes to today’s vampires we’re not nervous, we’re jealous.

Cordially yours,


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