…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricate, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and persistent. My conscience, my pity, my dopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist…. I still, though, hold on to one single bleak truth: no one is safe, nothing is redeemed. Yet I am still blameless…. Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for better world for anyone. In fact I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this – and I have countless times, in just about every act I’ve committed – and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing…
Welcome to the final part of my American Psycho series, delving in and exploring arguably the most interesting character in the literary world. Please read through part one, two, and three. Through my research I have come to a pretty solid conclusion, but that does not mean that it’s correct. This is still up for debate, for as I said in the first part of the video, Bret Easton Ellis wanted the book to be as vague as possible. He may have killed those people or maybe he did not. Maybe he is a psychopath or maybe it is all in his head. As the title so blatantly says, American Psycho. But this could both mean psychotic and psychopath.
Let us discuss the following arguments for him being a psychopath:
Patrick mentioned that he lost his conscience long ago probably while he was in Harvard.
He confessed that he raped his maid when he was 13. This falls under conduct disorder, which is the precursor to antisocial personality disorder
His glib and superficial charm. He is able to charm people into thinking that he is PC and cares about the welfare of others, but obviously he does not.
He confessed that after killing the child at the zoo that it did not give him the pride he gets when he kills someone with a future, someone with connections who might actually be missed because they were in their prime. He has no regard for human life.
Patrick was on the verge of tears at the possibility of not being seated where he wanted. He has an undeniable need for control.
Patrick says offensive things but they are never heard because they are mistaken for other things. And if they are not mistaken, people shrug it off. But when someone is blatantly telling a group about a serial killer and his beliefs of treating a woman, it is considered antisocial.
He has perfected fake responses and mannerisms to fit into his group. Does not listen to what others are saying because he is too self-absorbed.
The incredibly antisocial poem he wrote for his ex-girlfriend, Bethany.
Conversely, let us discuss the argument for him being a schizophrenic:
The style of writing changes before page 100, and becomes less coherent. Patrick changes subjects constantly.
He views himself as a man in power, but his cohorts view him as the boy next door or as a dork. Thus his feeling of grandiose is a key characteristic when diagnosing schizophrenia.
Right after he killed the child at the zoo, he makes a commotion about it and begins to tell people he is a doctor and attempts to resuscitate the boy.
The chapters sometimes end mid-sentence.
His external and internal dialogue interrupt each other.
The change in person-narration from first to third is out of nowhere. When Patrick was in a stressful situation, his narration changed to third person as if he was not the one acting, but the one witnessing from a distance. Before Patrick comes back to first person when he starts breathing deeply.
There are many more examples of each riddled in the book, but these are the most prevalent. When we lay out the examples like this, it can be difficult to decipher what Patrick is suffering from. I do believe that he is coming undone and that his world is not what is appears to be.
One example that is often referred to is the part where Patrick goes back to Paul Owen’s place and finds that it is empty and being shown for possible tenants. He then encounters the real estate agent who suspects something is wrong with Patrick. Patrick is feeling a sense of dread in this encounter, wondering if he had the wrong apartment and if Paul Owen still lives here. The real estate agent is curt with him and tells Bateman to leave without making a scene and never come back. Many people have argued that this is indicative that he killed several people and the real estate agent, knowing that Paul’s apartment is profitable, cleaned up and repainted because she wanted the sale, no matter the cost. She was morally bankrupt enough to dispose of the bodies and clean up as if nothing happened so she could reap the rewards of making a lucrative sale. Others believe that Patrick was acting strangely when he entered the apartment with a mask covering his mouth, inspecting the closet, and that is strange behaviour, which is why the real estate agent was curt with him and told him to leave. Maybe Paul did leave for London and his apartment was for sale. He killed him off in his head because they no longer work with each other.
The issue I have with the latter argument is that people generally find Patrick charming and sweet and most people haven’t treated him in the manner the real estate agent did. It is possible that observing what he was doing, she clued in that perhaps this gentleman was the killer, but instead of reporting him and losing the coveted property, she would tell him curtly to leave and never come back. Regardless, this scene may not be worth the trouble…Perhaps we are overthinking the whole thing?
I do believe that Patrick harmed at least one person, and that was the homeless man with the dog, and it is possible he did kill a cabbie. After arguing points with my husband and coming to no real conclusion, we found out that this is too messy. Bret Easton Ellis felt it pertinent to leave the story vague and to not give a forthright conclusion as to what exactly happened. In many ways, this is great for conversation and arguing, but for a diagnosis, not so much. What I believe, throughout this experience and reading the novel a few times, is that he is a psychopath. Yes, he is a full-blown psycho. Patrick Bateman is suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder. I also believe that he has depersonalization, anxiety, and is also suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Comorbidity in psychological disorders is common. The most difficult issues in the book are his change in narration and the encounter with the real estate agent. For many people, those two events are indicative that he is not antisocial, but rather schizophrenic. But through what I read and researched, I am happy to come to the final yet disorganized conclusion that he has antisocial personality disorder because it is the closest to what matches his personality. In psychology, nothing is perfect because no one can be one hundred percent of something. We can compartmentalize all we want, but there will always be some variance from person-to-person. This means that he best matches psychopathy but he also has traits other than psychopathy, as explained above.
What are the possible treatments for antisocial personality disorder? There are not very many unless the person with the disorder has committed crimes. Many with this disorder will not voluntarily seek out help because they believe nothing is wrong with them. Unless they are caught doing something by law enforcement or those around them, they will not seek out treatment. Because many researchers know this is a neurological issue in which the prefrontal cortex of the brain is missing or small in size, this is a matter of neuroanatomy and cannot be altered by drugs. It is the nature of these people to treat others with little to no regard and violate the rights of others. This is not something that can be coached out of someone. This is not something that can be cured. It is literally the feeling of nothingness when it comes to other people. There is no love or real emotion. Only the acting of love and emotion. There is no compassion and no regard to humanity, no matter how desperate these people may want you to believe that they are in touch with humanity. They can imitate others’ behaviours to appear that they fit in with the crowd, but they are in a league of their own and know how to manipulate people and situations to suit their own needs and gain.
We have concluded this essay series and I hope it has been entertaining as well as informative. If there is disagreement with the diagnosis, let us discuss it. If you have any other ideas about what other characters I can discuss and “diagnose” please let me know.