A Case Study of Patrick Bateman
As his addictions to drugs, sex, and violence grow, the reader follows Bateman down a graphic spiral of torture, hallucination and insanity.
Who is Patrick Bateman?
Patrick Bateman is the protagonist and narrator of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. He is a 27-year-old Harvard graduate, now residing in New York City, and works as an investment banker.
Bateman spends his time looking good, working out, and religiously watching "The Patty Winters Show." He is meticulous about his cleanliness and health and idolizes Donald Trump, because he is interested in only the most expensive things in life.
He is also a serial rapist and murderer. He is a man filled not only with anger but also with the sadistic desire to enact his most violent and twisted fantasies on other people.
Bateman takes the reader through the events of his life in a first-person narrative and into the darkest parts of his mind, and as his addictions to drugs, sex, and violence grow, the reader follows Bateman down a graphic spiral of torture, hallucination and insanity.
Patrick Bateman in Society
This American Psycho knows how to pull a charming, sociable facade. He surrounds himself with coworkers and friends who are just as good-looking and wealthy as himself. He puts on a good show of pretending to care about important world issues and such.
In one scene, he decided to show off his new business card. He had recently gotten it printed and believed the superior design was something to brag about. Upon revealing his card, his friends decided to do the same and compare. With each new card, they were increasingly better than Bateman's. Bateman couldn't stand this and became incredibly jealous.
During the night, he often retreats, and when asked he replies, "I have to return some video tapes." This has become synonymous for his crimes. At night, he indulges himself in the pleasures of murder and rape. He often targets lowly individuals, such as the homeless and prostitutes.
As mentioned above, Patrick Bateman is a serial killer and rapist. In the title, he is labelled as a "psycho" and, in the book, even refers to himself as a psychopath. Although, sometimes the shock of doing these things gets to him and he starts to have panic attacks, which he subdues with medication. Unable to keep it within, he often confesses his crimes to total strangers. But they never seem to notice or think it's a joke altogether.
After he commits his final murder, Bateman does not feel the same sense of euphoria he once felt. Instead, he feels nothing, numb. Is it even worth it anymore?
So, is Bateman a Psychopath?
The title is American Psycho after all. But Ellis made one mistake when writing this story. Psychopathy is characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, and egotistical traits.
Some possible symptoms include:
- Socially irresponsible behavior
- Disregarding or violating the rights of others
- Inability to distinguish between right and wrong
- Difficulty with showing remorse or empathy
- Tendency to lie often
- Manipulating and hurting others
- Recurring problems with the law
- General disregard towards safety and responsibility
Why Patrick Bateman Isn't a Psychopath
Bateman feels no remorse when he kills, that is a fact, but there are other things missing. He is very aware of what is right and wrong, so you cannot say he has an issue understanding morality. He just chooses to do wrong. Bateman much more fits the description of a sociopath. Sociopaths are often confused for psychopaths due to similar traits, such as the shared lack of remorse.
A sociopath is a term used to describe someone who has antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).
Some possible symptoms include:
- Doesn't respect social norms or laws
- Lies, deceives, uses false identities, uses others for personal gain
- Doesn't make any long-term plans
- Shows aggressive or aggravated behavior
- Doesn't consider their own safety
- Doesn't follow up on responsibilities
- Doesn't feel guilt or remorse
How to Treat Patrick Bateman
The best way to treat Patrick Bateman, in my opinion, is hospitalization. The book and film alike leave open the idea that all the murders were in Bateman's head. Even if the murders were fantasies, there's no way of knowing that he won't lash out. Cognitive Therapy could be used to allow Bateman to get a better image of himself and learn how he creates his own problems. This should be used with medications to reduce his aggressive behavior.
Now, while analyzing Patrick Bateman's character, it could also be argued that he suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.
Bateman's Psychological Analysis
Bateman does not fit every symptom, but he suffers from three personality disorders: Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. These disorders are never mentioned, so a little bit of Internet research and DSM-IV classification was used to help diagnose his three disorders.