No, I’m not talking about a sanguinarian barbecue. Though that could be interesting.
First, let me clarify my use of the term ‘sanguinarian’ for the purposes of this article. Sanguinarian is generally defined as someone who ‘needs’ to ingest blood for their health. That is the context with which I will use the term here.
I certainly believe that a degree of questioning and healthy skepticism is needed. Yet, there tends to be a bad habit of grilling someone who is trying to figure out their blood need as if to ‘discredit’ them as having a legitimate need or being a ‘sanguinarian’, as if it is some elite club to which only qualified members can join and use the term for themselves. “More vampire than thou” seems applicable here.
I witnessed this recently. Someone who said they need blood spoke of how after consuming blood, it made them hungry and restarted their appetite. This individual was told by another that this was incorrect and this meant they were not a sanguinarian. The problems with this statement are many.
Firstly, digestive problems have been long reported among sanguinarians. Does it not follow that if someone’s digestive system returns to a ‘normal’ state that their hunger would thus increase? This is commonly reported among sanguinarians as well. In fact, I would argue that this is the de facto similarity among sanguinarians with digestive issues. Lack of blood leads to loss of appetite, problems processing food, and digestive malaise. Upon drinking blood again, this returns to a state of normalcy with increased appetite. One shouldn’t make definitive statements about what a sanguinarian is and experiences (especially if you aren’t experienced with and don’t identify as a sanguinarian), because frankly, it is different for each of us. Even if you are experienced, I believe definitive statements should be avoided. Some will experience some things, others won’t. Even the above comment about digestive problems is strictly what I have experienced and witnessed. It doesn’t make it fact whatsoever – nor is it a basis to tell someone they are not a sanguinarian.
Second, ‘sanguinarianism’ is not a medical diagnosis. At best, it is an anecdotal syndrome for which no concrete evidence is currently available. People drink blood for different reasons. Some partake as some form of spiritual practice, others for perceived health benefits/requirements. Some simply for ‘need’. Even with the health benefits, it isn’t cut and dry. Some have said that med sangs are looking for a disease and that is our objective. I would argue that is not so. What my view of our goal is, is that it is searching for treatment options and tangible answers whatever that might be. Physiology and psychology are intrinsically connected. We have no publicly available evidence so far that there isn’t a large psychological component to this or that it may be a root cause. There certainly IS a big psychological component of it regardless of its origin; anyone who has experienced ‘twoofing’ knows this and how that state of mind causes distinct physiological changes in the moment. Blood is a nutritious substance. It is my view that even if blood does help significantly, we should never stop searching for alternative answers in the realm of medicine. There could be so many underlying issues that never get treated because someone slaps the label of vampire or sanguinarian on themselves. I think of someone who talks of fatigue, headaches and more, then says in an interview “I discovered I was a vampire and it made sense”. Vampire isn’t a medical diagnosis. Those symptoms can come from so many things. It could be nutritional deficiency or even something more nefarious like autoimmune disease or gastrointestinal disease. For an example of what I mean by psychology and physiology being linked and symptoms in both areas caused by simple deficiencies, take hypovitaminosis D, or vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms include immune system suppression, fatigue, tiredness, depression, bone problems, reduced wound healing, and muscular pain. Depression can often be a knock-on effect from physiological causes. Many of these symptoms are described by sanguinarians as well. Though most of us have had extensive testing done and know that it is not something so simple, the possibility of it being a deficiency in some area is still quite plausible. You, judging someone over the internet, have no idea what someone’s medical or nutritional situation is. Therefore, there is no ground to tell someone they don’t need blood – but we should always encourage them to seek out why and follow up with medical professionals. Don’t just stop at ‘sanguinarian’. I believe that is dangerous.
Finally, how do we define ‘need’ anyway? Who are we to judge whether someone truly needs it or not? If they do need it for psychological reasons (or what they perceive to be psychological because of the lack of evidence), does that make them less of a sanguinarian? What if they suffer depression, high stress, and consequently fatigue and other physiological issues as a result? I think they are just as legitimate a sanguinarian as anyone else and we shouldn’t be judging and telling someone if they need something or not. Rather, given the high-risk nature of bloodletting and blood-borne disease, we should be offering a helping hand and providing information, support and encouraging critical thinking in these people. Did you know that clinical studies have been done on the placebo effect of prayer, and showed that the effect has caused measurable, tangible benefits in conditions such as anxiety, depression, OCD, cancer, cardiac failure and Parkinson’s disease? Until we have definitive proof, none of us can say anything to the contrary. Otherwise, we risk encouraging confirmation bias and inter-subjective affirmations of what we deal with without objective evidence. That doesn’t mean we should question everything anyone says constantly, but I think we should have a culture of critical thinking; not taking anything and everything at face value if it appears said person is new and doesn’t understand the implications of it all. Not grilling, but supportive, encouraging advice urging them to do what is best for their health. That doesn’t mean either that it doesn’t take a significant toll on our health. Personally, my mental health, immune system, wound healing and so much else goes to sh*t without blood – but can I say why? No. You shouldn’t be either. Not until we have objective, double-blind studies done en masse.
Let’s stop judging what someone is or what they need and start helping.