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Porphyria and vampirism: Crappola 101 - Elizabeth Miller — LiveJournal
Porphyria and vampirism: Crappola 101
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From: (Anonymous) Date: March 15th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC) (Link)

In Defence and Regret of Dr. Dolphin

Hi Prof. Miller,

Firstly, I gotta say that I deeply respect your work. I'm glad there's someone out there who give the field of Dracula/vampire scholarship a kick in the pants.

I was actually going to write on here in defence of Dr. Dolphin. While Dolphin is widely associated with the connection between porphyria and vampirism - thanks largely to the overblown media coverage he received in 1985 - he was not the first to conjur up the theory.

I'm not sure if Nancy Garden first made the link, but she definately explicitly connected the two in her 1973 book, Vampires. Here's some relevant quotes from the Bantam Skylark 1979 reprint:

"A thank-you also to Joel Lamon and Diana Miller for telling me about porphyria, a rare disease no doubt responsible for some vampire legends." (p. xiii)

"An even rarer disease, called porphyria, may well have been responsible for many a vampire tale - especially since the disease is hereditary..." (p. 98)

However, I was greatly disturbed to find (from reading your blog entry), that Dr. Dolphin still perpetuates this highly erroneous connection. It's worrying that such men of science generate such hucksterism from extremely weak theories.

Dresser's chapter in American Vampires (1989) on the impact of such scientific negligence was certainly an eye-opener.

Though, I think such criticism should also be extended to those who make tenuous links between vampire belief and other conditions like schizophrenia, et. al.

~ Anthony Hogg
blooferlady From: blooferlady Date: March 15th, 2008 12:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: In Defence and Regret of Dr. Dolphin

Thanks for your comments. Pre-Dolphin and even pre-Garden, L. Illis had purported that porphyria could account for the reports of werewolves. Guess vampires draw bigger crowds and more money!

I agree with your last comment. Rabies is another popular "explanation."

Until last year, I had assumed that Dolphin had abandoned this nonsense and gone into hiding to scrape the egg off his face. I could hardly believe it when I saw the notice of his lecture at York University. It was a dreadful night (pouring rain) but wild horses would not have kept me away.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 17th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: In Defence and Regret of Dr. Dolphin

Can't say I've read Illis' paper, "On Porphyria and the Aetiology of Werewolves" (1964), but I bet the link is just as obscure.

The rabies connection is an interesting one; Juan Gomez-Alonso received a good deal of coverage for it in 1998 (though, again, he doesn't seem to have been the first to link it).

Not that I believe it has as much credence, mind you. He did at least make use of much more relevant sources, however. Here (http://microvet.arizona.edu/Courses/MIC195E/Gomez-Alonso.html)'s a copy of his paper to read yourself.

I was also surprised by Dolphin's perpetuation of the porphyria theory, because I've been in contact with him myself. And he seemed noticeably reluctant to discuss the matter.

This certainly raises an interesting ethical concern...

~ Anthony Hogg
12 comments or Leave a comment