black chain

In each life some confusion should come. Also some enlightenment.

Metaphor is a way to work with people who resist when dealing with things seen as too sophisticated or intellectual. It is also a way to avoid excessive use of defensive mechanisms. So, instead of working with problems or difficulties, we shall work with their personification: we embody them and we represent them as entities. And, since I am Romanian, we will work with vampires.

A vampire, as a symbol, is something that is draining your energy. A vampire can emerge either from the others, or from ourselves, or from places or situations that consume us. By definition, the vampire has the ability to induce confusion and make us partially fall asleep; he is magical and we lose control. So, this technique of psychotherapy – we shall call it as such for lack of a better concept – is suitable for those persons/situations when we are in the grip of someone/something that is “consuming” us and we cannot say “No”, or we accept the situation despite the fact that we’re losing our time & energy. If the client does not know what a vampire is, we can use the term “leech”, “bloodsucking worm” or… “parasite”.

The technique is simple and it involves a set of questions. That’s all. Answering these questions however involves hours and hours of therapy. Elements (questions) from the following outline are frequently used in a typical counselling session and even in a normal psychiatric setting, as they are common-sense subjects of reflection.

1. Who are your vampires? It is important to clearly identify what is harming you, to separate them from the hazy background. Who is harming you? What exactly is the situation that is sucking your energy? Define it! Describe it! Know it! The more specific you are, clearer and easier it’s going to be for you to work and eventually change.

2. How does the vampire work? How that person is stealing your energy? How the situation is making you tired? What exactly are the techniques of the vampire? Describe the process, the procedure! You need to be able to describe the “How”!

3. What are your vulnerabilities? Or, on what does the vampire act on? What is my weak spot, what is the hole in my armor? What exactly is that thing in me that enables the vampire to have access to me and suck my blood/energy? This is a fundamental question and a fundamental step, but as you can see, it’s the 3rd question and not the first one. Why? Because you need to identify the vampire and understand how he is abusing you before understanding your weakness. Unknowingly, by describing the vampire and the process, you clarified your inner vision and you can better see your weak spot now.

We are leaving in a confused world today, and the general trend is to assume that you ought not to be offended and life should be easy and fair. Our society is teaching us to be fragile and expects fairness and freedom while imposing all sorts of ideologies on us, most of them authoritarian, contrary to what it has advertised in the first place. So I stop a bit to explain you this: in therapy, done the way I was taught and the way I do it, the fact that you are vulnerable is your responsibility, and if you get a vampire sucking you, the general idea is not to destroy the vampire, but to strengthen yourself in such a way so that the vampire does not have access to you even if he is visiting you from time to time. It is not society or the others who need to change; it is You who needs to change so that you’re no longer… vampirized.

4. What keeps you vulnerable? What are the inner moral norms, the principles and rules inside you, the unresolved conflicts in your soul, which permit to these vampires to have access to you and harm you? What exactly is that thing in you that makes you vulnerable? You are invited to discover what is not adaptive in you, what is not efficient enough, what hampers or prevents you from being fit to fight back or simply shield yourself.

5. Why you keep yourself vulnerable? What is the role or the function of these weaknesses in you that prevent you from fending or defeating the vampire? If you tolerate something in you that acts like a vulnerability that invites the vampire to his dinner, that particular thing has a value for you (we call it in psychology the benefit of the symptom). So, what is the benefit from maintaining or tolerating in you such a weakness? Or, to put it in a different way, what is the benefit of keep having certain rules/principles that make you vulnerable? Why do you tolerate something that should be changed? This stage/step often requires a therapist, because it is often very hard to recognize that you are a masochist or you are abusing yourself or you are not genuinely loving yourself; you will likely be tempted to lie to yourself so as to protect “your good opinion you have about yourself”.

6. When did I acquire these weaknesses? This involves what I call “archeology”, it involves going in the past so as to find out “when you began to be naïve or act in a naïve way”. When I say “the past”, this typically involves your childhood. Then, there is a second question at this point: Why did you acquire these weaknesses? This is a tough one. We decide to be weak (“do stupid stuff”) either because we are educated to do so by our parental figures (“parents”), or because we decide to be weak in exchange for something (typically love or attention). Discovering and then acknowledging that you accept to be weak in the present because of something that happened to you or you decided in the past, is one of the most painful experiences one can have. Here is revealed the true psychodynamic (psychoanalytical) nature of this technique (it involves going to the past and exploring the unconscious).

7. What possibilities or cures do I have to protect myself from these vampires, to eliminate them? What are the antidotes I’m currently using and what might be possible new antidotes? When dealing with psycho-vampires, we already employ antidotes, that’s for sure. The question is: what else can we do? This step involves the client’s creativity which is triggered by this type of question. And be sure that some clients are creative. Also, be sure that there are generally antidotes on which the clients have already pondered on, but they deemed them as ineffective or not feasible. Your task is to find out why those are unworkable and make them function; this often involves a separate discussion.

8. How can I become immune to vampires? What is that thing that can protect or immunize me from vampires… for good? This final step is expanding what was discovered in a particular situation to the entire life of the client, as vampires circulate and we encounter them again in different disguises. This element – this talisman or amulet, if you wish – is technically an anchoring method, a shortcut in the client’s mind, so as to know very fast what he/she can do when a similar situation arises.

So, there it is: the psychodynamic technique of working with psycho-vampires. I hope it helps you in your practice or in your own life!