Consensual and Non-Consensual Sucking: Vampires and Transitional Phenomena

  • Terrie WaddellEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Gothic book series (PAGO)


Drawing on Winnicott, this chapter argues that screen vampires remain in a state of metaphorical symbiosis with what can be symbolically termed “mother”. But, as shape-shifters feeding on blood while simultaneously transferring blood to sucking others, they also present as complex mother/infant hybrids. This addiction to blood, often likened to heroin in contemporary narratives, refers back to the breast and, by extension, the symbiotic union with mother and lover where the fluid of one is consumed by, and transmitted to, the other. Traditionally, non-consensual blood exchange was central to the horror genre, but recent interpretations position the vampire as a romantic addict, heroically struggling with consent and desire. Winnicott saw the process of separation from the breast (representative of mother) as entry into a psychological phase called the potential space. Despite the shifting nature of the vampire genre, it will be argued that even the most politically correct vampires remain caught in this liminal, narcissistic stage of development. For the vampire, everything of addictive value becomes an aspect of itself—transitional objects (victims) therefore become the self-objects. For suckling infants, insatiable lovers and vampires, instinctual yearning often takes precedence over the autonomy of the desired other: the question of consent therefore, becomes a moral dilemma only for those engaged in the process of psychological maturity or individuation. The films discussed in this chapter include the Twilight series (2008–2012), Only lovers Left Alive (Jarmusch 2013), The Hunger (Scott 1983) and Nosferatu the Vampyre (Herzog 1979).


  1. Almond, Barbara R. 2007. Monstrous Infants and Vampyric Mothers in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 88: 219–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Frosh, Stephen. 1991. Identity Crisis: Modernity, Psychoanalysis and the Self. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. van Gennep, Arnold. 1960. The Rites of Passage, trans. M. A. Vizedom and G. L. Caffee. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Gordon, Rosemary. 1995. Bridges: Psychic Structures, Functions, and Processes. London: Transaction.Google Scholar
  5. Hall, James A. 1991. The Watcher at the Gates of Dawn: The Transformation of Self in Liminality and the Transcendent Function. In Liminality and Transitional Phenomena, eds. Nathan Schwartz-Salant, and Murray Stein, 33–51. New York: Chiron.Google Scholar
  6. Hockley, Luke. 2014. Somatic Cinema: The Relationship Between Body and Screen—A Jungian Perspective. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Jacoby, Mario. (1985) 1990. Individuation & Narcissism: The Psychology of Self in Jung and Kohut. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Kernberg, Otto. 1985. Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism. New Jersey: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  9. Kohut, Heinz. 1977. The Restoration of the Self. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  10. Konigsberg, Ira. 1996. Transitional Phenomena, Transitional Space: Creativity and Spectatorship in Film. Psychoanalytic Review 83 (6): 866–889.Google Scholar
  11. Kuhn, Annette. 2010. Cinematic Experience, Film Space, and the Child’s World. Canadian Journal of Film Studies 19 (2): 83–98.Google Scholar
  12. Kuhn, Annette (ed.). 2013. Little Madnesses: Winnicott, Transitional Phenomena and Cultural Experience. London: I.B. Tauris & Co.Google Scholar
  13. Tuber, Steven. 2008. Attachment, Play, and Authenticity: A Winnicott Primer. Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  14. Turner, Victor W. 1974. Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Societies. Chicago, IL: Aldine Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  15. Turner, Victor W. 1979. Frame, Flow and Reflection: Ritual and Drama as Public Liminality. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 6 (4): 465–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Winnicott, Donald W. 1971. Playing and Reality. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Winnicott, Donald W. 1953. Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 34: 89–97.Google Scholar


  1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. 1992. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, USA: American Zoetrope, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Osiris Films.Google Scholar
  2. Dracula. 1979. Directed by John Badham, USA: Universal Pictures, The Mirisch Corporation.Google Scholar
  3. Fright Night. 1985. Directed by Tom Holland, USA: Columbia Pictures, Vistar Films.Google Scholar
  4. Let Me In. 2010. Directed by Matt Reeves, UK/USA: Overture Films, Exclusive Media group, Hammer Films, in association with EFTI.Google Scholar
  5. Let the Right One In. 2008. Directed by Tomas Alfredson, Sweden: Sandrew Metronome Distribution Sverige AB, Filmpool Nord, Sveriges Television, WAG, Canal+, The Chimmney Pot, Fido Film AB, Ljudligan.Google Scholar
  6. Nosferatu the Vampyre. 1979. Directed by Werner Herzog, West Germany/France: Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Gaumont, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen.Google Scholar
  7. Only Lovers Left Alive. 2013. Directed by Jim Jarmusch: Germany/UK/France/Greece/USA/Cyprus: Recorded Picture Company, Pandora Filmproduktion, Snow Wolf Produktion.Google Scholar
  8. The Hunger. 1983. Directed by Tony Scott, UK/USA: MGM, Peerford Ltd.Google Scholar
  9. Twilight. 2008. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, USA: Summit Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment, Maverick Films, Imprint Entertainment, Goldcrest Pictures, Twilight Productions.Google Scholar
  10. The Twilight Saga: New Moon. 2009. Directed by Chris Weitz, USA: Summit Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment, Maverick Films, Imprint Entertainment, Sunswept Entertainment.Google Scholar
  11. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. 2010. Directed by David Slade, USA: Summit Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment, Maverick Films, Imprint Entertainment, Sunswept Entertainment.Google Scholar
  12. Twilight: Breaking Dawn (part 1). 2011. Directed by Bill Condon, USA: Summit Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment, Sunswept Entertainment, TSBD Louisiana, Total Entertainment, Zohar International.Google Scholar
  13. Twilight: Breaking Dawn (part 2). 2012. Directed by Bill Condon, USA: Summit Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment, Sunswept Entertainment.Google Scholar
  14. What We Do in the Shadows. 2014. Directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, New Zealand/USA: Unison Films, Defender Films, Funny or Die, New Zealand Film Commission, Resnick Interactive Development.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social SciencesLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations