Is Patrick Bateman related to Norman Bates? The Psycho Connection

Patrick Bateman and Norman Bates are two of the most iconic and notorious serial killers in fiction. They have both been portrayed on screen by talented actors, Christian Bale and Anthony Perkins respectively, and have fascinated and horrified audiences with their twisted minds and gruesome deeds. But are they related in any way, besides sharing a similar surname and a penchant for murder? In this article, we will explore the possible connections between these two characters, and how they reflect different aspects of the psycho genre.

The Origins of Bateman and Bates

Patrick Bateman is the main character of Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel American Psycho, which was adapted into a film in 2000. He is a wealthy and materialistic Wall Street investment banker who leads a secret life as a serial killer, targeting various people, including colleagues, homeless people, prostitutes, and even animals. His crimes are described in graphic detail in the novel, which also features his obsession with fashion, music, pop culture, and status symbols. He suffers from hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and dissociation, and often confuses his own identity with that of others. He also has a younger brother named Sean, who is a protagonist of Ellis’s previous novel The Rules of Attraction.

Norman Bates is the main character of Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel Psycho, which was adapted into a film in 1960 by Alfred Hitchcock. He is the owner of the Bates Motel, where he lives with his domineering mother Norma, who is actually dead and preserved by taxidermy. He has developed a split personality disorder, in which he sometimes assumes the identity of his mother and kills anyone who threatens their relationship. He is particularly triggered by attractive women who stay at the motel, such as Marion Crane, whom he stabs to death in the famous shower scene. He also has a history of emotional abuse and incest with his mother, who poisoned her lover when Norman was a teenager.

The Influence of Ed Gein

One of the most obvious connections between Patrick Bateman and Norman Bates is that they were both inspired by the same real-life serial killer: Ed Gein. Gein was a Wisconsin farmer who was arrested in 1957 for the murder of two local women. He was also found to have exhumed corpses from graveyards and made trophies and furniture from their bones and skin. He had a severe attachment to his mother, who died in 1945, and kept her room untouched. He also claimed to have made a “woman suit” from human skin, which he wore to pretend to be his mother.

Bloch was living near Gein when he wrote Psycho, and based Norman Bates on him. He later said that he was struck by “how closely the imaginary character I’d created resembled the real Ed Gein both in overt act and apparent motivation.” Ellis also acknowledged Gein as an influence for Patrick Bateman, saying that he wanted to create a “modern-day version” of him Both Bateman and Bates share some traits with Gein, such as their mother issues, their necrophilia, their cannibalism, and their use of human skin.

The Themes of Psycho

Another connection between Patrick Bateman and Norman Bates is that they both represent different themes of the psycho genre, which explores the psychology of madness and violence. Psycho is derived from the Greek word for “soul” or “mind”, and often deals with topics such as identity, sexuality, morality, guilt, repression, obsession, and alienation.

Patrick Bateman represents the theme of psycho as a critique of consumerism and capitalism. He is a product of the 1980s yuppie culture, which values money, power, appearance, and conformity over human relationships and emotions. He is driven by greed, envy, vanity, and boredom, and uses violence as a way to express his dissatisfaction and frustration with his empty life. He is also a symbol of the loss of identity in a society that reduces people to commodities and stereotypes. He often mistakes other people for himself or vice versa, and has no sense of self or empathy.

Norman Bates represents the theme of psycho as a study of mental illness and trauma. He is a victim of his abusive mother, who instilled in him a fear of sexuality and women. He is unable to cope with her death or his own desires, and creates an alternate personality that allows him to act out his fantasies and impulses. He is also a symbol of the repression of the subconscious mind in a society that values rationality and order. He hides his dark secrets behind a facade of normality and innocence.

The Legacy of Bateman and Bates

Patrick Bateman and Norman Bates are both influential characters that have left a mark on popular culture. They have both been referenced, parodied, and imitated by various media and artists, and have spawned sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and adaptations. They have also been analyzed and interpreted by critics, scholars, and fans, who have offered different perspectives and insights on their personalities and motivations.

Some of the works that have been inspired by or related to Patrick Bateman and Norman Bates are:

  • American Psycho 2 (2002), a film sequel that features a female serial killer who idolizes Bateman.
  • The Rules of Attraction (2002), a film adaptation of Ellis’s novel that features Sean Bateman as a college student.
  • Lunar Park (2005), a novel by Ellis that features a fictionalized version of himself who is haunted by Bateman.
  • American Psycho: The Musical (2013), a stage musical adaptation of Ellis’s novel that features songs by Duncan Sheik.
  • Bates Motel (2013-2017), a TV series that serves as a prequel to Psycho, depicting the teenage years of Norman Bates and his mother.
  • Psycho: Sanitarium (2016), a novel by Chet Williamson that serves as a sequel to Psycho, depicting Norman Bates’s treatment at a mental institution.
  • Son of Psycho (2021), a comic book series by Jeff Lemire that serves as a sequel to Psycho, depicting the son of Norman Bates who inherits the motel.

Conclusion

Patrick Bateman and Norman Bates are two characters that have a lot in common, but also have some significant differences. They are both serial killers who were inspired by Ed Gein, and who represent different themes of the psycho genre. They are also both iconic and influential characters who have influenced many other works of fiction and art. However, they are also products of their own times and contexts, and reflect different aspects of society and culture. Patrick Bateman is a critique of the 1980s consumerism and capitalism, while Norman Bates is a study of the 1950s mental illness and trauma. They are both fascinating and complex characters that continue to captivate and challenge audiences.

Doms Desk

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