Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho" - A Freudian Analysis

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Character Description

Patrick Bateman was a young, white, ivy leagued male who worked on Wall Street in the 1980's era of self indulgence and materialism. He was driven to be perfect and to be the best at everything he does no matter what the cost. Material things meant more to Patrick than life itself which was clearly stated in the movie. Patrick was vain and self absorbed person who treated his body like a temple. He spent his days and nights doing vigorous workouts, mergers and acquisitions on Wall Street, fine dining with beautiful ladies and satisfying an insatiable and uncontrollable lust for torture and murder in the "big apple".

Patrick Bateman was the ultimate serial killer who killed victims from all walks of life such as homeless people, friends, family and co-workers without fear or remorse. He killed for many reasons which included material obsession, envy of co-workers who accomplished more than him, pure hatred for what he deemed to be the weak and pathetic people in society and blatant insanity at times. He appeared to enjoy killing women in particular including one that he seemed genuinely affectionate for.

Throughout the film, Patrick kills over 20 people. Many times he could not tell whether or not the events were real or simply a part of a psychotic delusion brought on by his problems. His character revealed the inner goings on in his mind by narrating these thoughts throughout the film. Patrick acknowledged that what he was doing was wrong. He noted that he had been depersonalized and that he had lost the ability to feel compassion for others, but he was unable to understand why; he was also unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

Analysis: Psychosexual Stages of Development

Freud would likely say that Patrick Bateman had a normal Oral Stage of psychosexual development because he did not seem to have any of the "symptoms" that would result in having problems in this area such as smoking, nail biting, overeating or constant chewing of items. On the contrary, Patrick seemed to have the exact opposite characteristics of a person who developed problems during this stage.

Patrick Bateman had obvious control and power issues. According to Freud, this may have been a result of problems in the Anal Stage of psychosexual personality development; particularly with regards to toilet training. There were definite issues regarding Patrick surrounding issues such as anal fixation; more specifically, anal retentiveness that resulted in abnormal behaviors in adulthood.

Patrick was obsessively clean and antiseptic in his living conditions and in his life. His apartment was clean, organized and perfect in almost every way. Patrick treated his body like a temple and was always overly concerned, or fixated, with any imperfection that may somebody else may have seen. He did several hundred abdominal crunches and push ups every day as well as exfoliating, moisturizing and massaging daily to maintain the level of perfection that was expected of him. These are all symptoms that can be the result of an anal retentive and narcissistic personality according to Freud. The only contradiction to this would be Patrick Bateman's apparent enjoyment and disregard of making a horrible mess when committing many of his heinous crimes. This type of behavior does not coincide with the typical characteristics of a person with anal retentiveness and a narcissistic personality.

Patrick exhibited a child like euphoria when torturing and killing women in particular. Freud might say that this was due to his apparent issues with people from the opposite sex. It could be theorized using a Freudian perspective that Patrick had some unresolved issues in the Phallic Stage of psychosexual development. If Patrick had a difficult time resolving his Oedipus conflict for instance, it may explain why he had such hostility towards women in particular. Perhaps he was rejected from his mother at an early age, or punished severely...
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