Thursday, July 30, 2009

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

According to Freud we all have parts of our conscious that help keep us balanced that being the Id, Ego and Super-Ego they are defined by Freud as "The uncoordinated instinctual trends are the "id"; the organized realistic part of the psyche is the "ego," and the critical and moralizing function the "super-ego." Patrick Bateman obviously has an issue with his conscious and is constantly battling. Throughout this story he is mostly delusional, critical of all around him and most of all I feel hates women.
A Psychoanalyst would view Patrick Bateman's cold yet anal department as his feelings of not wanting to lose control. He has very rigourus morning routines and rituals, he executes them with such perfection and yet it's so effortless for him. Even while he dresses there is ritual and precision, the whole first chapter is basically a description of his morning routine. Irnoically while he is getting dressed a talk show is on and they are discussing women with multiple personalities!
On Page 14 Bateman gives a speech which is meant to be an answer in regards to the dinner party conversation, this sppech is filled with what is wrong with the world and what we need to do to fix it, his ego is working overtime! This can be seen how he genuinly feels about what's going on in the world around them, since it was the 80's there was plenty wrong with the world! Yet no one at the dinner party takes him seriously and that would lead to his feeling like no one would understand his complexity thus anger might arise but he brushes it off.
Patrick Bateman is absoulutely nuts! His encounters with women are violent and very stomach turning, in one scene he tells a woman "I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood." Freud would look at this and quite possibly feel he has a very unhealthy relationship with his Mother; He might want to sleep with his Mother and since his conscious must be fighting over his feelings this would lead to the disgust he feels for women. I won't even get into the sadistic things he does to these poor women but let's just say Freud would definitly want Bateman as a study subject!
What would lead me to believe his ego's are fighting his howhe keeps his life in order, he maintains a job, has a fiance, yet he sleeps with prostitues and kills people around his he dislikes. He has enough sense to keep his life in order but his super-ego seems to be on a vacation. His super-ego would be responsible for telling him what he did was wrong and lead him to have guilt, only at the end of the book does his super-ego kick in when he calls his lawyer and is a bit nervous. He admits to killing people and whole LOT of them and almost looks to his lawyer as a child would look at their Mother if they were in trouble, he wants his lawyer to make it all better. What the real kicker is, is that you aren't sure if he is delusional or if there was some magical fairy who cleaned up the bodies for him.
He has no conscious that would tell him what he is doing is wrong as I've said before, this is especially disturbing while he is at the zoo and throws coins into the seal's areas when there is a sight that clearly states that coins can kill them. After he throws the coins in the tank, he scopes out a child and stabs him in the neck. While the child is bleeding, his Mother in hysterics, Bateman pretends to be a doctor and save the boy when all he is doing is giving himself a front row seat to a child's death. What is really unsetteling is that he does feel remorse about killing an innocent child. He thinks to himself that " It's so much worse (and more pleasurable) taking the life of someone who had hit his or her prime, who has the begginnings of a full history, a spouse, a network of friends, a career, who death will upset far more people whose capacity for grief is limitless than a child's world, perhaps ruin many more lives tha just the meaningless, puny death of this boy."(pg.299) He feels remorse but not the remorse a normal person may feel. He feels his kills wasn't worth wild, didn't give enough of the "wow" factor, meaning his ego's are all out of wack!
In the Jane Eyre writing there was this paragraph "During the mirror period, the child comes to view itself and its mother, later other people as well, as independent selves. This is the stage in which the child is first able to fear the aggressions of another, to desire what is recognizably beyond the self (initially the mother), and, finally, to want to compete with another for the same, desired object. This is also the stage at which the child first becomes able to feel sympathy with another being who is being hurt by a third, to cry when another cries. All of these developments, of course, involve projecting beyond the self and, by extension, constructing one's own self (or "ego" or "I") as others view one." Basically the child will learn to feel sympathy or remorse, this was probably Bateman's downfall while growing up. Lacan would suspect that during this stage something went terribly wrong and Bateman never had to compete for the "desired object" yes he does have a Brother who is just as screwed up as he is. Looking at thie from a Freudian/Lacan view he had the worst parents ever!

1 comment:

  1. Is there evidence of his upbringing in the book? I'm interested in your suggestion that he might have wanted to sleep with his mother, though I don't see it in the text as presented (that's okay, you could argue that it's been sublimated onto something else). Also be great to continue with the analysis. That is, what does this book say about the psyche of it's author, or the psyche of the society that made it a bestseller and then a film?