Is there a common, categorical name for creatures that become stronger and more powerful by feeding off living beings' emotions, such as fear, anger, greed?

  • 2
    To the close voters: could one of you create a new meta question explaining why you feel that these "myth-identification" questions should be closed? There seems to be a disconnect between this site's moderators (who just reopened a bunch of myth-id questions) and the people voting to close this post. I would also question why people are voting to close this question but not the question asking for myths where a character looses an arm: to my eyes, they seem like similar questions, and I'm not sure why they get different responses.
    – user62
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 23:42
  • 1
    This was not an identification question but rather a list type question. People were voting to close for being too broad because this probably seems like a common type of mythological creatures. That's why I've tried editing it to ask if there's a group name for such creatures instead.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 4:50
  • @Semaphore my apologies: by "myth-id" I meant "list type question", and I was referring to the original version of the question. I'm not sure if your edit helps: it seems like such a drastic change that the meaning of the question is completely different. Besides, I doubt a name for such a creature exists that refers to creatures from multiple cultures (like the word vampire or dragon). I would still like to here from one of the people who voted to close this question: in my mind, it doesn't seem more or less broad compared to something like mythology.stackexchange.com/q/1167/62
    – user62
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 6:35
  • 1
    Looks like the votes are back up. I'm going to side with Hamlet on this. Pure Q&A on mythology using strict StackOverflow rules seems counterproductive.
    – cmw
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 2:28
  • This looks like a trope identification question, so it would be on topic on TVTROPES WARNING tvtropes.org/pmwiki/query.php?type=tf (after you do some searches yourself).
    – b_jonas
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 9:54

4 Answers 4

  1. Attachment spirits. In Native American and Eastern European shamanism, they attach to people either to vicariously live through them, or to whip up the emotions so they can feed off them. This happens in relationships where the argument whips into a frenzy seemingly on its own. (Aside from hormones.) I don't have a citation, I was married to a native shaman who talked about it.

  2. Incubi and succubi are generally represented as being sexual pest spirits that feed off the victim's sexuality, but in the Wikipedia entry for each one, the end result is death. The experience for the victim is pleasure, until they are drained of life force. Sexual pleasure is not quite the same as "emotions", but definitely involves emotion.

  3. In Christianity, demons. "Demons survive by feeding off of emotional vibrations such as anger, fear, joy, excitement and any emotion that vibrates at the frequency needed for the feeding entities. The greater the emotional vibration, the better the feeding session for those feeding. A book by John Klein and Adam Spears titled Devils and Demons and the Return of the Nephilim published in 2005 is a great source for understanding how and why entitles feed off of human energy." http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread531240/pg2

I know this is part of older esoteric traditions. Qabbala?

I know at least one Christian who strongly believes in this as a reality: http://gnosticwarrior.com/demons-who-feed-on-human-energy.html

  1. In new age speak, there are Collective Consciousness group-entities that gin up and feed off of any strong "team" related identity -- sports, religion, politics. When you are trying to talk to someone who just won't hear an opposing view, and it almost seems like something is talking through them, and they seem to get a great deal of energy from their group identity, like being a sock puppet for something more powerful. In psychology terms, I'm sure there are specific diagnoses, but still.

I don't think there's a word already existing, but I'm not going to pass up the chance to try and make one. Just combining Latin and Greek roots, a psychophagus would be a "soul eater". There could also be specialized words for each emotion-feeder, such as phobophagus (fear eater), iraphagus (anger/rage eater), etc. Motophagus would be the word for emotion eater, but that's much more questionable than soul eater (psychophagus).

  • 1
    These are not the "common, categorical names" requested by the question.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 7:52
  • @Chenmunka On Stack Exchange, it's generally accepted that if the answer is "there is no answer", it's fine to provide alternatives that do the same thing, albeit in a way different from what the question asked. So, for example, if there isn't a common word, making up one that makes sense is acceptable, so long as it's clearly stated that that's what happened.
    – anon
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 16:54

Soul Vampires can be the closest one.

For example, consider the Dementors from Harry Potter, according to the Potter wiki:

Dementors feed upon human happiness, and thus cause depression and despair to anyone near them. They can also consume a person's soul, leaving their victims in a permanent vegetative state, and thus are often referred to as "soul-sucking fiends". They are known to leave a person as an 'empty-shell'.

So, let's see how they are derived from mythology to fit into HP:

They are among the folkloric psychic vampires, so they definitely belong to a type/class of vampires.

So, they can be labelled soul vampires or psychic vampires

A picture from Harry Potter which shows how the soul sucking is done:

enter image description here


Psychic vampires. Here's a Wikipedia entry

There is a popular myth that they feed on people's emotions, especially negative ones. This is also sometimes attributed to people who seem to provoke negative emotions in others on purpose. Basically, one who is considered a narcissist.

  • 1
    That seem to be a modern coinage about people and not about traditional myths or folklore, no?
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 16:51

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