Articles and Essays

- Selected Cases of Vampirism -

from the book

Psychopathia Sexualis
(A definitive study of sexual disturbance)


Richard Vonn Krafft Ebing

Case 19: Leger, vine-dresser, aged 24.

From youth moody, silent, shy of people. He started out in search of a situation. Wandering about eight days in the forest he there caught a girl of 12 years old, violated her, mutilated her genitals, tore out her heart, ate of it, drank the blood, and buried the remains. Arrested, at first he lied, but finally confessed his crime with cynical cold-bloodedness. He listened to his sentence of death with indifference, and was executed. At the post-mortem examination Esquirol found morbid adhesions between the cerebral membranes and the brain.

Case 21: Vincenz Verzeni, born in 1849

Since January 11, 1872, in prison; was accused (1) of an attempt to strangle his nurse Marianne, four years ago, while she lay sick in bed; (2) of a similar attempt on a married woman Arsuffi, aged 27; (3) of an attempt to strangle a married woman, Gala, by grasping her throat while kneeling on her abdomen; (4) on suspicion of the following murders:
In December a 14 year old girl, Johanna Motta, set out for a neighboring village between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning. As she did not return, her master set out to find her, and discovered her body near the village, lying by a path in the fields. The corpse was frightfully mutilated with numerous wounds. The intestines and genitals had been torn from the open body, and were found nearby. The nakedness of the body and erosions on the thighs made it seem probably that there had been an attempt at rape; the mouth filled with earth, pointed to suffocation. In the neighborhood of the body, under a pile of straw, were found a portion of flesh torn from the right calf, and pieces of clothing. The perpetrator of the deed remained undiscovered.
On 28th August 1871, a married woman, Frigeni, aged 28, set out into the fields early in the morning. As she did not return by 8:00, her husband started out to fetch her. Her found her a corpse, lying naked in the field, with the mark of a thing around her neck, with which she had been strangled, and with numerous wounds. The abdomen had been ripped open, and the intestines were hanging out.
On August 29th, at noon, as Maria Previtali, aged 19, went through a field, she was followed by her cousin, Verzeni. He dragged her into a field of grain, threw her to the ground and began to choke her. As he let go of her for a moment to ascertain whether any one was near, the girl got up and, by her supplicating entreaty, induced Verzeni to let her go, after he had pressed her hands together for some time.
Verzeni was brought before a court. He was then 22 years old. Cranium of more than average size, but asymmetrical. Bull-necked; penis greatly developed, fraenum wanting; slight divergent alternating strabismus (insufficiency of the internal rectal muscle, and myopia, Lombroso concluded from these signs of degeneration, that there was a congenital arrest of development of the right frontal bone. As seemed probable, Verzeni had a bad ancestry - two uncles were cretins; a third, microcephalic, beardless, one testicle wanting, the other atrophic. The father showed traces of pellagrous degeneration, and had as attack of hypochondra pellagrosa. A cousin suffered from cerebral hyperaemia, another was a confirmed thief.
Verzeni's family was bigoted and low-minded. He himself had ordinary intelligence; knew how to defend himself well; sought to prove an alibi and cast suspicion on others. There was nothing in his past that pointed to mental disease, but his character was peculiar. He was silent and inclined to be solitary. In prison, he was cynical. He masturbated, and made every effort to gain sight of women.
Verzeni finally confessed his deeds and their motive. The commission of them gave him an indescribably pleasant (lustful) feeling, which was accompanied by erection and ejaculation. As soon as he grasped his victim by the neck, sexual sensations were experienced. It was entirely the same to him, with reference to these sensations, whether the woman was old, young, ugly, or beautiful. Usually, simply choking them had satisfied him, and he then had allowed his victims to live; in the two cases mentions, the sexual satisfaction was delayed, and he continued to choke them until they died. The gratification experienced in this garroting was greater than in masturbation. The abrasions of the skin on Monta's thighs were produced by his teeth, whist sucking her blood in most intense lustful pleasure. He had torn out a piece of flesh from her calf and taken it with him to consume at home; but on the way he hid it under the straw-stack for fear his mother might suspect him. He also carried pieces of clothing and intestines some distance because it gave him pleasure to tough and smell them. The strength which he possessed in these moments of intense lustful pleasure was enormous. He had never been a fool; while committing his deeds he saw nothing around him (apparently as a result of intense sexual excitement, annihilation of perception - instinctive action). After such acts he was always very happy, enjoying a feeling a great satisfaction. He had never had pangs of conscience. It had never occurred to him to touch the genitals of the martyred women, or to violate his victims. It had satisfied him to throttle them and such their blood. These statements of this modern vampire seemed to rest on truth. Normal sexual impulses seemed to have remained foreign to him. Two sweethearts that he had, he was satisfied to look at; it was very strange to him that he had no inclination to strangle them or press their hands, but he had not the same pleasure with them as he had with this victims. There was no trace of moral sense, remorse and the like.
Verzeni said himself that it would be a good thing if he were to be kept in prison, because with freedom he could not resist his impulses. Verzeni was sentenced to imprisonment for life. The confessions which Verzeni made after his sentence are interesting:
"I had an unspeakable delight in strangling women, experiencing during the act erections and real sexual pleasure. It was even a pleasure only to smell female clothing. The feeling of pleasure while strangling them was much greater than that which I experienced while masturbating. I took great delight in drinking young Motta's blood. It also gave me the greatest pleasure to pull the hairpins out of the hair of my victims.
"I took the clothing and intestines, because of the pleasure it gave me to smell and touch them. At last my mother came to suspect me, because she notice spots of semen on my shirt after each murder or attempt at one. I am not crazy, but in the moment of strangling my victims I saw nothing else. After the commission of the deeds I was satisfied and felt well. It never occurred to me to touch or look at the genitals of such things. It satisfied me to seize the women by the neck and suck their blood. To this very day I am ignorant of how a woman is formed. During the strangling and after it, I pressed myself on the entire body without thinking of one part more than another."
Verzeni arrived at his perverse acts quite independently, after having noticed, when he was 12 years old, that he experienced a peculiar feeling of pleasure while wringing the necks of chickens. After this he had often killed great numbers of them and then said that a weasel had been in the hen coop.

Case 25: Mister X., aged 25

Father syphilitic, died of paretic dementia, mother hysterical and neurasthenic. He was a weak individual, constitutionally neuropathic, and presented several anatomical signs of degeneration.
When a child, hypochondria and imperative conceptions; later, constant alternation of exaltation and depression. While yet a child of ten the patient felt a peculiar lustful desire to see blood flow from his fingers. Thereafter he often cut or pricked himself in the fingers, and took great delight in it. Very early, erections were added to this, and also if he saw the blood of others; for example, when he once saw the servant girl cut her finger it gave him an intense lustful feeling. From this time his sex life became more and more powerful. Without any teaching he began to masturbate, and always during the act there were memory pictures of bleeding women. It now no longer sufficed him to see his own blood flow; he longed to see the flood of young females, especially those that were attractive to him. He could scarcely overcome the impulse to violate two cousins and a certain servant.
Any young woman, although not attractive, induced this impulse when she excited him by some peculiarity of dress or adornment, especially coral jewelry. At first he succeeded in overcoming these desires; but in his imagination thoughts of blood were ever present, inducing lustful excitement. An inner relation existed between thoughts and feelings. Other there were other cruel fancies. He imagined himself in the role of a tyrant who had the people shot in crowds with grape-shot. He would imagine a scene as it would be, if enemies were to take a city and mutilate, torture, kill and rape the young women.
When in his normal state this patient, who had a mild disposition and was not morally defective, was ashamed of and horrified by such cruel, lustful fancies, which became at once latent, when his sexual excitement was satisfied by masturbation.
After a few years the patient became neurasthenic. Then simple imaginary representations of blood and scenes of blood sufficed to induce ejaculation. In order to free himself from his vice and his cruel imagination, he began to indulge in sexual intercourse with females. Coitus was possible, but only when the patient called up the idea that the girl's fingers were bleeding. Without the assistance of this idea no erection was possible. The cruel thoughts of cutting was limited to the woman's hand. At the time of greatest sexual excitement, simply the site of the hands of an attractive woman was sufficient to induce violent erections. Frightened by the popular stories about the injurious results of onanism (masturbation), he abstained and fell into a condition of severe general neurasthenia, with hypocondical dysthymia. Careful and watchful medical treatment cured the patient after a few months. He became mentally well for three years; but became again very sensual, though very seldom he was troubled by his earlier ideas of flowing blood. He gave up masturbation all together, and found satisfaction in natural sexual indulgence, remained virile, and it was no longer necessary for him to call up ideas of blood.

Case 31: J.H. aged 26

Came in for consultation concerning sever neurasthenia and hypochondria. Patient confessed that he had practiced onanism since his 14th year, infrequently up to his 18th year, but since that time he had been unable to resist the impulse. Up to that time he had no opportunity to approach females, for he had been anxiously cared for and never left alone on account of being an invalid. He had had no real desire for this unknown pleasure, but he accidentally learned what it was when one of his mothers' maids cut her hand severely on a pane of glass, which she had broker while washing windows. While helping to stop the bleeding he could not keep from sucking up the blood that flowed from the wound, and in this act he experienced extreme erotic excitement, with complete orgasm and ejaculation.
From that time on, he sought, in every possible way to see, and where practicable, to taste the fresh blood of females. That of young girls was preferable by him. He spared no pains or expense to obtain this pleasure. At first he availed himself of a young servant, who allowed her finger to be pricked with a needle or lancet at his request. When his mother discovered this, she discharged the girl. Then he was driven to prostitutes as a substitute, with success frequently enough, though with some difficulty. In the intervals he practiced onanism, and masturbation by women, which, however, never afforded him complete satisfaction, but, on the contrary, caused listlessness and self reproach. On account of his nervous difficulties he visited many sanatoria and was twice a voluntary patient in institutions. He used hydrotherapy, electricity, and strengthening cures, without particular success. For a time it was possible, by means of cold sitz-baths, monobromate, and camphor, and bromides to diminish his sexual excitability and onanistic impulse. However, when the patient felt himself free again, he would immediately fall into his old passion, and spare no pains or money to satisfy his sexual desire and the abnormal manner described.

The author of this book, who lived from 1840 to 1902, was born in Germany, and served as a police doctor in Vienna for many years. In 1889 he accepted the post of Professor of Psychiatry and Nervous Diseases at the University of Vienna. He carried out a systematic study of sexual perversions at a time when such things were only spoken of in whispers. His classification of the different forms of strange sex impulses are (were) still widely accepted.

He gave his findings to the world in this never-to-be forgotten book. It first appeared in 1886, in a German text with Latin where the situations described were deemed to provocative. From year to year, as new case histories came to his attention, Krafft-Ebing enlarged the book. There were 12 editions all together, the last one appearing in 1902, the year of his death. We have used the 12th and final edition as the basis for our text, but for the first time we have translated the passages never before deemed proper to be read by laymen.

This is one of the books that shook the world. I brought about a total reevaluation of European and American thinking about sex.

From the Introduction by L.T. Woodward, M.D. 1965

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