This surely ranks among the more unexpected studies: Vampires are real, and they have a fear—"of Coming out of the Coffin to Social Workers and Helping Professionals," as the study's title reads in part. The study, published in the journal Critical Social Work, isn't talking about "lifestyle" vampires, who might wear fake fangs or don a black cape, but rather true vampirism, which "centers on claims of needing extra energy"—that would be blood—"regularly in order to sustain health." DJ Williams, who's studied self-identified vampires for almost a decade, interviewed 11 individuals from the US and South Africa who say they need to drink others' blood for this reason, reports Reuters. After quizzing them about their psychiatric backgrounds, careers, and social lives, he found them much like everyone else. Though some have a habit of cutting into the chests of willing donors to ingest a small amount of blood—a non-fatal procedure—they also "work regular jobs and participate in the broader communities in which they live."
One standout point, Williams says: they're generally unwilling to visit a therapist or doctor though they may face "stress, various health issues, relationship difficulties," and other struggles just like the rest of us. Many so-called vampires worry they'll be labeled a psychopath, or "perhaps wicked, and not competent to perform in typical social roles, such as parenting," the study notes. Real vampires feel they had no choice about their identity, with some saying they wish they were free of their condition. "Most vampires believe they were born that way; they don't choose this," Williams tells Reuters, and his study encourages "helping professionals ... to become more aware of their own social and cultural positioning so that these do not unintentionally harm clients whose backgrounds and beliefs differ." Curious how many vampires walk among us? Williams suspects there are thousands. (Vampire burials have been found in Poland.)