An Overview on the Definitions of a Vampire and on Contemporary Vampirism
by Aurora diSaturni
Definitions of a Vampire
In this chapter I introduce various definitions of the vampire and ways of classifying different types of vampires.
Traditionally the vampire is defined as a blood sucking ghost or a reanimate corpse, that is believed to rise from the grave to wander around at night and to suck the blood of sleeping human beings. Masters also divides vampires to two basic categories: the spirits of dead persons and corpses that have been taken over by the corpse's own spirit or a demon. 
Melton's definition adds a cause to the vampire's emergence. Melton's vampire is a dead person, who is still bound to earthly life and is not welcome in the realm of the dead. A vampire is a dead person who has returned to life and continues his existence by drinking the blood of the living.  Dresser also sees the vampire as being condemned, not being able to rest in peace but being forced to rise from the grave to feed itself with the blood and the vitality of the living. Nevertheless Dresser defines the vampire only as a mythical creature. 
Frost mentions the definition of a famous ghosthunter Elliott O'Donnell that does not necessarily give the vampire any personality. According to O'Donnell the vampire is an element, that under certain conditions inhabits the human or any other corpse, and thus reborn rises from the grave to suck the blood of the living at night.  Frost himself also thinks that it is possible that the vampire is an abstract force. Frost's definition describes the vampire as evil and unnatural. According to Frost a vampire is a parasite like force or thing, malignant by nature and selfish, whose primal desire is to suck the lifeforce of a living organism and to digest its vital fluids to satisfy its perverse hunger in order to continue its unnatural existence. 
Vampires have also been defined as a species of their own. According to Bunson the vampire is a unique being that has existed for millenia among mortals feeding on them and using them in order to assure the continuance of its own species. Bunson seemingly believes in the existence of vampires. 
The vampire has also been thought of as a supernatural being. Anthony Roberts and Geolff Gilbertson define the vampire, in their book The Dark Gods, as an ultraterrestial, a malevolent being that has its origins in another dimension. They do not anyway exclude the possibility that the vampire is an archetypical force that channels and manifests itself through the collective unconscious. 
Melton's definition of the vampire is some sort of a combination of the definitions above. According to Melton the vampire can be a bodiless demonic spirit; a bodiless spirit of a dead person that retains it's bodily existence; an independent intelligent life form or species that has arrived possibly from outer space or is a result of a genetic mutation; an otherwise normal person that has peculiar habits such as the drinking of blood, or special talents such as the ability to spiritually drain a person. To clarify the concept of the vampire Melton compares it to those of the ghost and the ghoul. According to Melton a vampire differs from a ghost in that a vampire is a reanimate corpse inhabited by a spirit while a ghost has no body. A ghoul differs from a vampire, according to Melton, in that a ghoul has no intellectual control, it is only guided by its hunger and it eats the corpse's flesh and not just the blood. According to Melton the drinking of blood is characteristic of a vampire, therefore the term vampire has been used to describe many mythological beings that drink blood, and also living persons who drink blood. 
There have also been attempts to classify different kinds of vampires. Frost divides vampires in six different categories: 1) spirit-vampires, 2) astral vampires, 3) real-life vampires, 4) psychic vampires, 5) animal vampires and 6) thought-vampires. According to Frost a spirit-vampire is a spirit of a dead person who takes over a living body, animal or human. An astral vampire is similar to a spirit-vampire, it gets its name from the plane of existence that the Theosophists call the astral plane. Real-life vampires are living human beings who drink blood. A psychic vampire is also a living human being, but one who possesses the skill of draining the life force out of other humans. Animal vampires are those animals that have been connected to vampirism, such as the vampire bat, the wolf and the cat. A thought-vampire is an entity that lives from evil thoughts, growing and getting stronger in the mind of the evil-doer. 
In additions to the categories presented above Dresser mentions the metaphoric vampire. According to Dresser a metaphoric vampire is a person who feels no remorse as he/she is using other people in all life situations. A metaphoric vampire seeks revenge and only wants to be in the role of the taker. Dresser also presents two definitions of a psychic vampire that differ from Frost's definition. According to Dresser a psychic vampire does not necessarily drain energy from other people but just imagines that he/she drinks the blood.  Dresser also refers to the definition of the Satanic Bible of the psychic vampire as a human being who makes you feel guilty for not doing them favours. 
Bunson presents more vampires that do not drink blood. According to Bunson there exist sexual vampires, political vampires and economical vampires. Bunson says that a sexual vampire has an endless "hunger" to make sexual conquests and for sexual manipulation; political and economical vampires are people and even institutions that feed themselves of the society.  Vampirism is commonly defined as the action of the vampire. For example according to Bunson vampirism is the actions of the vampire that include the taking of the blood, psychic energy or some other force in order to survive or to increase it's own life force.