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I've been trying to reimagine vampires using sci-fi science to explain the more traditional vampiric abilities. So far I'm quite liking a rabies-like virus to explain biting and regenerative rest. I would like to now focus on a vampire's hypnotic ability but using the idea of a virus altering the infected in some way so that basic mind control would be possible.

How could a vampire realistically (loosely through future science) control others' minds or influence their actions through a transmitted virus?

Is there a method where the victim could be controlled by the administrator of the virus through infection (virus attacks mental functions?)? I'm thinking a more personal control ability - the 'vampire' would have to be in close proximity to the infected and would only be able to convince, manipulate or influence the infected person through suggestion. The infected will have no idea they are being controlled and would unknowingly work toward the suggestions of the vampire. The virus will slowly increase aggression of the infected and will slowly destroy the brain, the vampire hoping her goals will be completed before the victim dies.

To infect, the vampire would bite the person, delivering the virus through the victim's blood system via saliva.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome. Please take the tour and see help center. Currently your question may be closed as too broad, as viruses and chemicals are basically two separated topics and we have policy of one thing per question. It can also be closed as primarily opinion based, because it falls under "every answer can be equally valid", as described in "do not ask" section of help center. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jan 23 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ Any ... ideas welcomed. That's not appropriate for any SE site. SE's Q&A model is one-specific-question/one-best-answer. Raw brainstorming isn't a good fit here. You have the potential of an excellent question. (a) Please provide an explanation of the criteria you will use to select the best answer to avoid being closed as primarily opinion-based. (b) Please explain if you are looking for control of the crowd (something pheromones could do) or control of a specific, targeted individual (something spat poison could do). $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 23 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ To what extent should the vampire have control over the victims? Is this to be total control where the vampire becomes the absolute master of the human? Something weaker like Rendfield from Dracula where he's compelled to do the bidding of the count but also insane (that could be a per-requirement or consequence)? A very strong suggestions akin to more classical hypnosis? $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 23 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ Based on your revised question, I see a distinct issue with the same virus that makes the vampires also destroying the minds of and killing those that are infected. I would suggest instead a model where vampires are either a distinctly not human species, or control their victims without introducing the virus that made them. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jan 23 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki, the idea was that the virus is fatal but the first person (our vampire) to get infected was put into a cryogenic sleeping pod (sci-fi and represents coffins) soon after contact. Like in modern rabies cases, induced comas can stop the virus attacking the brain, so in this sci-fi case the sleeping pod stopped the brain damage. The virus is still active and will infect others being fatal to them. I think I shouldn't reply in these comments but felt it doesn't belong in my question. $\endgroup$ – Mind of Cubozoan Jan 24 at 11:21
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There are many parasites that affect the hormones of their infected that live in symbiosis with their hosts. For example, cats have parasites in their feces that make their prey less afraid of them when infected. True mind-control is not really plausible scientifically because you'd need to intercept trillions of synapse connections and manipulate each one in precise patterns without accidentally shutting down vital systems killing the host, but changing a person's biochemistry to include artificial emotions such as love, compasion, fear, peace, forgetfulness, etc. could all be done, because that is just a matter of attacking and stimulating glands.

I would suggest that the Vampire have a number of parasites with unique effects on people's hormone balance that they could introduce at will for whatever desired effect they want. The effects would not be immediate, but a Vampire could stalk a victim for days, first infecting them, then come back next week to exploit the hormone shift. Theoretically, the hormone shift could be keyed to make the victim highly compliant to the vampire in response to his specific pheromones the same way women become more attracted to men with a lot of testosterone when they are ovulating.

Alternately, there is the option of mind-altering drugs (like a natural truth serum, opioids, hallucinogens, etc.) which would give much faster results, but for much shorter periods of time.

Pheromones themselves could also play a part as hyperion4 suggested, but those would be limited to how responsive your victim already is to them. So if you think about how much extra control a musk body spray gives you in a situation, that is about the limit of that advantage.

If you mix the ideas, then pheromones could be used to get close to your victim, then a bite could be used to introduce the natural drugs to quickly bring a victim into a highly compliant state. Then if you need a more lasting control over your victim, you make them drink your blood to "thrawl" them into a more permanent state of compliance with body altering parasites.

As for where this virus might come from, a theoretical distant cousin of Baculoviridae may be what you are looking for. In nature it only affects arthropods, but it has several of the qualities you are looking for. It increases appetite which could perhaps compel a person to vampirism if the cravings are specific enough as well as boost metabolism which could make it's host faster stronger and heal more quickly, it is typically fatal, and it has multiple stages that it goes through when it infects a host which could mean that is has an early stage where it makes the host compliant to suggestion in response to a mature host's pheromones, but as it takes hold of the victim's body and finished causing the mutations that make the vampire (through gene replacement), it would either die from the infection in a manner as unpleasant as a flesh-eating virus or it would survive to become a mature vampire.

While this would be a big leap of faith for evolution, as a bio-engineered weapon, all the elements you need are right there in nature to be exploited by someone smart/terrible enough to really work at it.

There is a whole Wikipedia page about such parasites. Taking a look there and doing some follow-up research should help you a lot.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was about to write the same answer. you were faster $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jan 23 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ exactly what i had in mind when i read the question. I proposed an edit with an link to support these thoughts. $\endgroup$ – miep Jan 24 at 21:26
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Perhaps the vampire virus changes the pheromones released by the creature, so that it can strongly influence the subliminal urges of the human victims. For example, pheromones could cause the victims to respond to sexual urges, hunger pangs, or dire fear of the unknown without even seeing the vampire. Those urges might cause the victim to sleepwalk, disrobe, or do things they ordinarily would not do.

I don't think there's any plausible scientific hypothesis of a virus giving a vampire the power of telekinesis or shape transformation, though.

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