Should I be Worried?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaisyFace, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Good morning!

    Remember when I expressed my concern over difficult child's research topic on "real" vampires?

    Well, last night she asked to sue the computer to do some work on her paper.


    Only, now (thanks to WebWatcher technology) I can see what "research" she was actually doing.

    difficult child found an email address online that was attached to a published paper regarding the current vampire mythology and it's prevalence in society.

    The questions difficult child asked this woman were as follows:

    Does renfield syndrome exist?
    Do you think that people use Renfield's Syndrome to act out in depression?

    So--number one...difficult child clearly did not bnother to read this woman's paper.

    But number two--difficult child's current diagnosis is Depression (as far as she understands) AND she is obsessed with vampires and she is doing the cutting and biting thing.

    How concerned should I be that difficult child is possibly seeking to prove that she, herself, has Renfield syndrome?

    [As a side note, all of this stuff with difficult child is so darn "out there" that it often makes me feel as if I am going crazy because this is just too bizarre!]

  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh ugh. Well, I would watch but I dont think a good psychiatrist is going to buy this theory. I would think that now with all the vampire stuff out there are a ton of teens with angst showing up saying they are vampires.

    On the other hand, if she starts to actually believe this stuff, it could get really bad.

    Just yuck.
  3. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    I wouldn't panic just yet.

    Sending those email questions may be her way of trying to contact an expert. Clearly she should read the paper if it is relevant. However it looks to me as if maybe she is doing her best to stick to her guns on this subject and wants to follow the rules by actually consulting with an expert. On that note she is making a sincere effort.

    As far as the depression question I see and agree with your reasoning. I also can see her reasoning to a degree. Vampires are uber cool right now. Depression carries a stigma. Unless she has a history of grandiose thought or delusion it may not be so bad as you may expect. Don't rule out her possible need to see psychiatrist of course. Maybe she wants to have the syndrome so she can be a real life vampire not because of her depression but because of her wanting to be something cool. Shock value at this age is cool, look at all the goth and emo sub culture.

    Average kids do all sorts of poorly thought out things to get cool points. Maybe she is just at that socially awkward stage and reaching out. Maybe you could mention it to her in a way that doesn't reveal you checking up on her. At this age they consider it snooping and shut you out.

    Maybe stepping in to help and support her in her project rather than do for and enable would be good. Clearly she is interested in the subject so if you take an interest with her you could maybe subtly guide her and infuse tidbits of your parental wisdom in a non threatening way. If you think portions of it are interesting or that vampires are cool you would be surprised how she may respond. Feeling you accept her may help her open up to a dialogue about the issue. You can call it a project brainstorming session. You could even go so far as to ask her opinion by taking that depression and putting it in your own words and asking her the same thing.

    If she doesn't have the syndrome pretending she does will get boring for her after awhile. I know the subject matter can be frightening but maybe it's just a stage she will outgrow if given a better outlet.

    Anime is huge right now. Maybe you could bait her with some cool Japanese comics and she will just want to dress in vivd colors instead of wear black lipstick and white face powder.;) I have a cool link if you want it. Having actual Japanese comics is a sure fire attention getter which may be all she wants.

    Is she artistic? Drawing anime could be fun for her and a good distraction from the darker stuff. Even the darker anime has a very clear imaginary boundary whereas she seems to have found a loophole for the vampire thingy.

    She's a smart cookie for that though...I am impressed with her level of independant thought and research even if the topic is questionable.
  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    LOL! Janet, I don't expect any psychiatrist to diagnosis difficult child with Renfield's Syndrome!

    My worry is that difficult child is actually believing this stuff.

    Am I crazy? Am I just reading too much into this?

    husband and I aren't sure what to do. When we have brought difficult child's letters and notes to psychiatrists in the past they have dismissed all of our concerns--so we are a little hesitant to bring more of this continued type of writing to their attention.

    But on the other hand...?

    Why does difficult child always seem so far "off"...? None of her friends are buying into the whole vampire thing the way that she is. It is clear from their responses that they do not believe her when she tells them she is a vampire. It seems like she's trying really hard to prove that she is.

    See? Now I feel crazy just for writing that. I am definitely out of my league, here...

  5. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Thanks Farmwife--

    difficult child is very into the Dark stuff. Everything is death, dying, killing, blood-drinking. Some of the Manga websites she is into have quizzes you can take to find out how violent a person you are.

    difficult child always scores herself as Extremely Violent. Then she brags about her test results to her friends.

    And when they are unimpressed or express disbelief she responds

    "Yea? Try me!"

    So--I'm not sure where the line between fantasy/reality is. Yes, vampires and Manga is huge right now. But this...? It seems beyond.

    And the research project seems to be headed that direction, as well.

    But maybe I'm over-reacting? Maybe it IS just a stage and I am reading too much into it?

  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    A large part of it may be that difficult child knows she is different, but doesn't like it; but if she's a vampire then she's a cool different.

    It sounds to me like she's trying to figure out what's going on with her, only with a very skewed reality. Does that make any sense?

    I do think your difficult child's sense of reality is quite a bit skewed and I would continue to push that with the psychiatrist.

    ETA: I think it's a stage at the age of 6 or 7. At her age, it's a lot more concerning to be trying to convince your friends that you're something that isn't possible.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Heather, you make a good point.

    Its one thing when a 6 year old tells all their friends that they are a princess. Its a totally other thing when that same 15 year old tells their friends they are a princess!
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    You have expressed exactly what I think I am seeing.

    But it is so strange that I begin to question myself and wonder if I am making a big deal out of nothing.

    Thanks for letting me "bounce" my thoughts off of you.

  9. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    DF -

    It's really not that strange when you look at it from her perspective. I mean, it is strange, but you can kinda understand her "logic".

    My difficult child started sending me info on Paranoid PD and this or that. She knew she was different and was trying to figure out why, so was doing the online research. This was back when she was adamant that there was nothing wrong with her, by the way. The stuff she sent did not fit her at all, but I could see what she's trying to do.

    In your difficult child's case - and this is just a possibility of course, but my take on it - instead of researching possible MI, she's researching Renfield Syndrome (I have to look that up...don't know what it is...Manga either).

    I think she's seeking answers. She just doesn't see or understand the line between reality and....delusion. I don't want to call it fantasy because I think for your difficult child it's beyond fantasy.

    Is the psychiatrist aware of the cutting and biting? That should be a huge red flag. Actually, all of this should be a huge red flag, but you know that already.
  10. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    I had no idea there was cutting and biting going on. Sometimes the lines get blurry with difficult child's and what the heck is going on. I know my difficult child never has a clear cut case of anything. It's so frustrating to know something may be up but to never be able to put your finger on it. It makes helping them harder.

    The vampire myth was based on Vlad the Impaler, he was a very sick dude. He was who the name Dracula came from. To further make it all legend Bram Stroker wrote the book about him. The book was FICTION, as we all know. Long story short there is very clear historical evidence as to why the vampire myth came to be. Not that diving into that history will be helpful but if need be there is clear evidence much to the contrary of your daughters "fantasy". If she picks and chooses her "facts" it may fuel her ideas if she sees it as factual. That is not good for someone with bizarre ideation.

    Here is a link for the vampire disorder on wiki

    From what I can see it clearly spells out that it IS in fact a mental disorder based on a childhood trauma and not an actual case of being a "real" vampire. The behavior is a symptom of the disorder not some "sign". I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here on that though.

    Here is a link about the real Dracula, maybe some historical and clinical facts printed out and left on difficult child's bed for her to meditate on will help? by the way he lived in Transylvania (Romania today)
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    DaisyFace, I've just done some digging on Renfield Syndrome, beyond what I already knew or suspected. I was a bit concerned at a statement that ""sufferer's of Renfield's Syndrome need blood to live" which is definitely NOT a medical statement. It would be more correct (perhaps - you would have to interview such sufferers to determine this) that "sufferers of Renfield's BELIEVE they need blood to live".

    Of course we all need blood to live, we need that blood to be our own, and to be kept safely in our circulatory system.

    Even assuming Renfield's to be a genuine psychiatric condition (and there is some discussion on this) I do not believe your daughter meets the criteria. I believe your daughter WANTS to meet the criteria, but that is another story. The psychologisation of illness concerns me, especially the tendency to label everything that maybe doesn't really deserve its own discrete label. If we take this trend to its extremes, you would find they would give your daughter another label again - one which describes someone who doesn't have Renfield's Syndrome, but has a fetish for wanting to have Renfield's. Which is why I believe such psychiatrists will inevitably end up disappearing up their own fundamental orifices. [translation - no wonder so many shrinks are nuts]

    I don't see any harm in your daughter researching this, even if she's researching it badly. She just doesn't fit, no matter how hard she tries to make it fit. She's a square peg, Renfield's Syndrome is a vanishingly small round hole.

    Does Renfield's really exist? Probably. Someone somewhere probably meets most of these criteria. Is there anyone in the world who actually MUST drink blood in order to survive and also has a sexual fetish for drinking blood? I doubt it. That smacks of sensationalism and misinterpretation.

    There are genuine medical conditions, porphyria-type diseases especially, where certainly in the past, pretty much the only way to keep the person alive was to give them blood to drink. It didn't have to be human blood. Porphyria is complex, is hereditary but also appears to need an environmental trigger as well as the gene, and has a number of different forms (including different severity). It really does come very close (in some presentations) to what we view as vampirism. It also genuinely exists. People with porphyria cannot make the heme molecule which we need in our blood to carry oxygen. Most of us process what we eat into a range of things, including heme. But those with porphyria cannot. Instead, they need heme from other sources. Our bodies naturally lose heme (and therefore need to always make more) because red blood cells, where much of the heme is located, age and die, to be processed by the liver. Several things can go wrong in porphyria - not only does a person become anaemic, but the stuff we make heme out of, porphyrin, builds up in the body of someone with porphyria and causes a lot of very odd symptoms. Exposure to the various known environmental triggers reduces the body's ability to cope with porphyrin, which is why these triggers will exacerbate symptoms.

    And if your daughter has it, I would be amazed, surely you would have known it by now. Unless she has the adult onset form, in which case - why does she have it so young? The adult onset form does not appear to affect the skin, so they can go out in daylight. If she has porphyria, then it's very mild, or you would find her skin reacting to some extent at least, to being out in daylight. Certain foods would cause problems for her (including garlic and other members of the onion family, believe it or not) as would antibiotics, the Pill, alcohol, cigarettes, infection, puberty in females.

    But you would have noticed.

    "Common complications
    Without medical treatment, complications of porphyria may include:
    Permanent hair loss
    Skin scarring
    Permanent skin pigmentation changes
    Breathing problems
    High blood pressure (hypertension)
    Low salt levels in the blood (hyponatremia)
    Kidney failure
    Liver problems, which may require a liver transplant in severe cases."

    Different types of porphyria require different treatments but these days there should be absolutely no need to ingest blood. Even in the past, that would only have helped in a few cases. But hey, it does make for sensational medical journal reading!

    So I doubt it's porphyria. A blood test, urine test and/or stool test will confirm. I recall "mad King George" had problems with this, it took them ages to work out what was wrong until one someone noticed that the chamber pot containing the "royal wee" had been left standing and had gone the colour of stewed beetroot. Classic. Poor old George wasn't so mad after all.

    Back to your daughter - she's on a jourey to find out. I doubt she will find anything that can really help her cram that square peg of hers into the tiny round hole of Renfield's. For a start, she's female and not male. Second, did she start by drinking her own blood? Does she crave it by the cupful? Does she get sexual jollies out of it? Or is this, as you strongly suspect (and others here also suspect) simply a girl with uncool depression, trying to make her condition seem more "cool"?

    Your daughter is highly intelligent. by the way, husband is currently reading "The Book Thief" also had a bit of trouble getting into it but I think he's enjoying it now. The thing is, it's complex. And your girl "gets it" from the review I read that she wrote. So she's smart, a deep thinker. She knows something is wrong, probably can't accept "mere depression" as the label.

    Let her explore. I think you are right to keep tracking it so you can be ready to jump sideways if this turns nastier than I think it should. But I think it is healthy for her to inform herself. Of course she's making a hash of it to begin with - I think we all did this, especially when we were in love with our own theories (hey, maybe there's a label for being in love with your own theory? A sort of theoryphilia? Sorry, I think I spent too long at that last site).

    If she wants to use herself as the topic of research, she also needs to realise that in presenting it to the class, she is exposing herself a great deal. if it's only being handed in to the teacher then let her have her head and do what she wants, then try to give her extra direction to go purely as a discussion paper, no conclusions needed. Just a spreading out of "here is part of the spectrum of humanity" type of thing. The attraction of vampires in Gothic times, was the fear of your soul being lost, coupled with the 'lack of personal responsibility' component. These irreligious times have removed the spiritual aspect of vampirism, pretty much, and brought the sexual side of it to the fore. Without the soul aspect of it, the mysticism side of it also begins to wane. The vampire's powers were allegedly satanic in origin. In reality, there is no such power and even modern vampire mythology is moving away from much of this power, towards more personal strengths and abilities, rather than power over other people. Also, the whole horror of vampires originally, was that "life force exists in the blood" belief that was common then - too much medical science has intruded these days for people to really believe this any more. And that is what Renfield believed, in Bram Stoker's novel - he believed that by eating whatever little creatures he could catch in his cell at the asylum, he would gain the life force of these creatures. And in the novel, Renfield became more rat-like and roach-like in his behaviours. Not exactly something to aspire to.

    If she believes herself to be evil, really evil, and extremely violent - then she is not like Renfield. He was a slave, a servant. That is NOT cool.

    But again - that is mythology and fantasy. Worth mentioning in a discussion paper, but if that paper is at all factual (or pretending to be) then she has to mention the sub-group of humanity who play at being vampires but who in reality are mere mortals like the rest of us.
    I don't think these social vampires are necessarily getting a sexual kick out of it, either. Although by association you could build up a conditioned response of sexual high from vampiric behaviour.

    The consequences of handing in such an assignment will be interesting - at the very least, the school should react with alarm bells and any doubts cast in your direction will be swept away.

    Keep tabs on what she is researching, do make sure she is writing stuff down so she has something to hand in. It is most important she hands something in. She needs to keep a bibliography of everything she reads even if she doesn't actually use it in her final paper.

  12. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I think she is just a click or two off the normal channel, and the fact that she's trying to convince others and find reasons for herself to justify what she's thinking/feeling is evidence enough of her disconnect with reality.

    Don't be shy about bringing this and any other issues up with the psychiatrist, and certainly don't dismiss your "gut" feelings about what's going on with her. Better safe than sorry, in my opinion.
  13. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    About the only peoples who still consume blood "raw" (it is used as a sauce/soup ingredient in a lot of cuisines, including French) are members of nomadic herding tribes.

    They will bleed an animal for the food value of the blood. Mongols and similar groups bled horses while on the march. The Masai and some other herding tribes, live on milk mixed with cows' blood. It is extremely nutritious.
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Ewwww.....GN- way too much information for me!!

    I agree with gcvmom on this one. I am sorry you are going thru this- but don't doubt yourself. I spent many times thinking I was nuts before difficult child was sent to Department of Juvenile Justice. Have faith in your own instincts- it's pretty rare for a mom's gut feeling to be completely wrong.
  15. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Sorry KLMO. I do tend to go off on tangents. Didn't mean to gross you out at all. I just thought it interesting.
  16. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    You'd never guessed that I started out in pre-medication would you? Of course I only made it as far as finding out that the next animal to be disected would be a cat. Then it was over. LOL!
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Daisyface, I completely understand your questions and fears. I spent quite a number of years with a child who believed that if he could go to Japan he would be able to find pokemon. Real ones.

    This persisted and later he was sure he could find and raise a dragon, again found in Japan.

    If only his horrible and cruel parents would just fork over money for a ticket there. He would find one and be so famous that someone would pay his way home when he was ready to come home.

    NO ONE outside this board believed me. Nothing we did changed his beliefs. For the most part we let it go because he was not looking for ways to raise money to go.

    Then he moved to my parents. Who let him have access to money and one day a week, minimum, to go and play D&D. They firmly believed I was over-reacting and just plain being silly to think he believed those things. He is skilled enough a manipulation to get them to think I was just being stupid.

    About 2 years after he moved there he was deeper and deeper into his games and was mixing potions and "learning" spells to do various things. He showed many signs of sinking into this. I told Gma it had been going on a long time, but at his age the only way to stop it was for HIM to want to stop.

    I would go with your instincts. If you think that magical thinking is going on, then you need to bring it up to the psychiatrist. Ask what treatment is available for this, esp as the cutting can come with some scary things, like drinking blood from other people's cuts or biting other people to svck on the wound.

    I really DO know how you are worrying, and how farfetched it can sound if you say it out loud. Trust those instincts.
  18. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    A quick update:

    So last night we had "family therapy' with difficult child's regular therapist. It was definitely interesting...for one thing, more of the "real difficult child" started showing through...and right there in session, she began talking about things that didn't make a lot of sense. (Nothing big--but again, not quite right, either)

    husband immediately took the opportunity to point this out to the therapist and mentioned how this happens all the time--these weird stories or strange interpretations of events. We ended up discussing Renfield's Syndrome and difficult child was asked whether she thought she had it. She said No--she had none of the symptoms.

    OK--the end. I figured that was that. I felt a bit relieved that I probably was over-reacting. Whew!

    Another thing that had been addressed in session is the fact that difficult child would like to pass 9th grade and needed help with some of her work. So when we got home, she was talking about needing to work on this research paper. Actually invited me to see what she had come up with so far! (Wow, cool!)

    So far, she has written the outline of the research paper in the form of questions. What question will I be answering with this section. The teacher had noted on her outline that some of her questions would need to be revised. (I agree.)

    Her questions were:

    What causes Renfield's Syndrome?
    Do people with Renfield's Syndrome act out in depression or anger?
    Is Renfield Syndrome a cause for some murders?
    What goes on in the mind of a person with Renfield's Syndrome?
    How do you deal with someone who thinks they are a vampire?

    I tried to gently point out that if difficult child tweaked her questions just a bit, she would give herself a lot more to write about. Like maybe write about why vampire's are so popular today? What makes people so interested? I asked her whether she was aware that Renfield's Syndrome is not recognized as an illness...?

    And that started it. She began to get upset and argue with me that LOTS of Psychiatrists believe in Renfield's Syndrome. She said police know all about it because whenever they investigate serial killers they note Renfield's Syndrome in their report. She also stated that if someone is a cutter just because they like to watch themselves bleed, it means that they are starting to get Renfield's Syndrome.

    After this discussion, difficult child went to the computer and fooled around on FB for an hour. The report remains untouched.

    So it now seems very clear that difficult child absolutely belives that Renfield's Syndrome is a real thing. She does not believe she has it. But it sounds like she believes she could develop it.

    So--I guess I will have to bring this up with the psychiatrist...

    Thanks for listening!

  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ugh. She is out in left field but she doesnt want therapist to know it.

    This disorder...if you not the first thing anyone thinks of when they see a person cutting. Borderline is. And has anyone ever heard them say Renfields on Criminal Minds or Numbers? Or even Law and Order? I havent. If it was such a real thing and so common, trust me, they would have used it in episodes.
  20. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    KLMO, I was a combined practice vet tech in Germany, so I've seen a lot of necropsies (animal autopsies). Not much grosses me out unless it has started to bloat and stink (you put vapo-rub under your nostrils to deal with that, LoL.

    Actually, I have Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), and well gross bloody stuff doesn't bother me, a bit of slimy food will make me puke my guts up.