Vampire syndrome (Porphyria)
Porphyria, or “vampire syndrome” as it can be referred to, has been suggested as the condition responsible for the invention of the vampire myth due to the nature of its symptoms. There are an estimated 200 different forms of porphyria in existence.
It can manifest itself in an increased sensitivity to sunlight, which can produce rashes and serious skin problems when exposed. The nervous system can default and cause episodes similar to panic or anxiety attacks, with an excessively fast heart rate, raised blood pressure, intolerable stomach pain and vomiting.
Often, these episodes can be fatal. It also causes severe mental disorders and disturbances and has been linked with psychosis, seizures, coma and depression.
Normally, the naturally-occuring porphyrias in the body interact with enzymes to create heme, which transports oxygen in the blood. As a result of genetic mutations, or bad reactions to certain medicines, these enzymes become damaged, the porphyrias build up and then all hell breaks loose (for the poor sufferer, anyway). How unfortunate that so many of these conditions invoke connections to mythical or legendary creatures. Perhaps it is because these mutations can dramatically change the behaviour and appearance of those around us, making us nervous or confused, and ultimately leading to a lack of understanding and acceptance.