The Vampire Effect Applies


The narrator in Sacred Fount by Henry James, published in 1901, applies the theory that as one party to a relationship gains, either physically or intellectually, the other loses, is drained by the “sacrificer” until depleted; thus, the vampire effect. The characters in any story about obsession would fit into this framework. Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is an extreme example where a painting takes on the ugliness of the evil doer.

My character, J.C. Gray, in Well of Rage, was in part named after Wilde’s character to symbolize the deterioration of his soul throughout the novel.

The literary term “The Vampire Effect” is new to me. In my attempts to research I run into marketing studies using this principle. Did you know a celebrity could distract from a product unless the consumer makes a connection between the personality and the object? Angelina Jolie might distract if the product is a guitar. Elvis might benefit the ad in the initial noticing phase, but might not stamp it in the consumer’s mind.

How does this apply to learning and memory? I’m listening to an audio book about learning Basic Russian by Simon & Schuster’s Pimsleur. My character, Roman, in my Stranded In Atlanta manuscript is Russian, and I want to listen to the cadence. Maybe pick up a few words for the manuscript.

The introductory remarks before the lessons start stress the need to repeat the words out loud–no writing down the words–and to use the audio cd classes in sequence as I, the student, gradually gains approximately an 80% retention rate before continuing another lesson. The reinforcement in each lesson along with how often, where, and when I’m  reinforced is crucial. Too soon or too late and retention is lost. It makes me feel a bit like a laboratory rat.

With mind control and mind altering drugs, the vampire effect lives on in the military complex and pharmaceutical companies and in the hands of the men and women who control them. With that happy remark I leave you to ponder if fiction is real…another  academic question posed by Henry James.

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