Surrounding Patrick’s Fabricated Persona
For the period and place, Patrick Bateman seems pretty typical. He is an attractive, well-dressed yuppie (a young urban and middle-class young professional in a high-paying job) from the 1980s. He spoke in a pretentious manner. It was not surprising for someone who looked like him in the real world. He takes care of his skin and health with great care and moderate fit. As well as being intelligent, wealthy, and outgoing, Patrick perfectly embodies the stereotype of the neighborhood kid.
Remembering that Patrick grew up living the life he lived is also essential. In the film, his fiancé, Evelyn, says that Patrick’s father owns the business Patrick works for. When he talked to his friends or co-workers, Patrick’s only strange behavior was how he moved and talked. The property is almost invisible. However, he looked strange. There are indications that most of what he did and said in public was wholly fabricated.
In the first monologue he delivers in the film, we see support for the concept.
Everything is a Facade
He claims everything he tells the outside world about humans is a facade. Strictly speaking, it was just an artificial mask he had shaped to resemble an intelligent man. Although people have concepts of himself as a figure or an abstraction, in truth, there is no such thing as an honest Patrick; it is just an entity, something that is not real. Even though he can hide his cold stare, we can shake his hand and feel his flesh firmly grip ours.
Our lifestyles may be similar. Therefore, Patrick was absent. As the title suggests, Patrick’s description of himself serves as our initial exposure to the various qualities he possesses. It shows that he is a psychopath. There are specific requirements, but not all must be fulfilled to become a psychopath. Patrick fits the description for his lack of empathy. His actions are reckless, he lacks remorse, his ego is significant, and his tendency is always to lie.
However, this is only partially covered in the monologue. We can see all the characteristics throughout the film.
Fear of Losing the Sanity’s Mask
Through the monologue, it is shown that Patrick views himself as an empty being. It is possible that Patrick never really knew who he was if his perception of himself as an abstraction and entity was any indication. For example, Patrick and Evelyn disagreed on whether they should marry. Patrick explains to her that his desire to blend in is why he will not leave a job he hates. Apart from that, Patrick also continued his inner monologue.
Then, the film widens the hole he feels in it. According to Patrick, he has all the physical attributes of a human, including flesh, blood, skin, and hair. While the exceptions are disgust and greed, neither emotion is distinct. He experienced terrible internal events. He was not sure of the cause, in any case. The night before, Patrick had brought with him his days of bloodlust. To the point of going mad, he felt numb.
He was afraid that the mask of sanity would come off. More precisely, the screenplay perfectly captures Patrick’s character and his disjointed but unstable identity. Throughout the film, he experiences an existential crisis and grapples with his self-consciousness. External elements, including possessions, physical characteristics, and social status, formed Patrick’s identity.
Opaque True Self
An innate fear and desire for approval from others drive him. Although hidden behind his beautifully crafted personality, Patrick’s true self remains opaque. He struggled to find a significant meaning for himself and was constantly opposed to his existence. Patrick’s constantly fractured identity is seen in his need for outside approval. Not to mention, his predilection for monetary goods, physical attractiveness, and social status form his fragmentation of identity.
He carefully shapes his persona based on social norms and builds an image of achievement and excellence. Most of the time, his aspect acts as a tool for projecting arrogance and self-confidence. His continual self-questioning and attempts to forge a strong sense of identity further indicate his identity fragmentation. Typically, he expresses emotions of emptiness and lack of meaning during existential crises.
Patrick’s psychological disintegration results from internal conflicts and his inability to reconcile the person he is with the persona he projects to the outside world; in the narrative of American Psycho, the ambiguity surrounding Patrick’s behavior and any potential hallucinations or delusions further stress his fractured identity. For example, it is unclear whether Patrick’s specific violent crimes were real or his.
Iniquity and Willingness
Such ambiguity obscures his sense of reality and draws attention to his unstable mental state. It questions the correctness of Patrick’s perspective and how his shattered identity impacts how he sees the world. He may not recognize it, but it is an emotional vacuum with a human exterior. Indeed, he had something inside of him. It is a beast that roams in people’s shadows. Apart from occasionally appearing, it allows Patrick to express his greed and bloodlust or when his desires become too strong for him to bear.
As a result, he cannot contain it in his shell. As we see in a certain sense, Patrick has two sides: the iniquity and the willingly. His jealousy, disgust, and greed stem from his primordial nature. To say nothing of it, he has all the synthetic emotions he needs to survive in the outside world under his skin. His primordial emotions are his disrespect for human life, obsession with being the best among his friends, and insatiable sexual appetite.
When he killed several women out of jealousy of Paul Allen, his compulsion to kill increasingly became disgusting.
He develops a taste for blood when he finds a poor man in an alley. When Patrick was worried they would not get another good table in the restaurant, he said he almost cried. He also almost lost control when he admitted that Paul Allen’s business card was superior to his. The response indicates a hypersensitive response to non-threatening circumstances. Patrick watched gore movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre exclusively or porn whenever he was alone.
The only other odd trait Patrick has is his undeniable passion for music. He could use it as an additional pretext to impress his friends. Perhaps, Patrick needed to fully believe that music was art or that Patrick took it seriously. Politically he makes politically correct and socially sound statements throughout the film. The film shows it when Patrick is just wearing a different mask. However, the way he makes his claims when he applies them to music gives us the impression that he will only continue to criticize the issues that exist in the world.
When it came down to it, Patrick was just a man with a burning passion for blood and a deep desire to care.
Nature of Evil
Therefore, American Psycho presents problems with moral accountability and the definition of crime. Patrick commits acts of violence that target women and does them without remorse or compassion. His behavior detaches from the principles and ideals that society accepts. It calls into question the possibility of moral agency and the reality of evil from a philosophical standpoint.
Patrick’s actions contradict conventional notions of moral obligation. He has no conscience or responsibility for his actions. It raises the question of whether morally reprehensible behavior can be ascribed to a single actor or whether environmental influences significantly shape an individual’s moral character. As if Patrick were outside conventional moral judgment, he signifies a departure from moral standards and ideals.
By blending fiction and reality, the film also encourages meditation on the nature of evil. Sometimes it is difficult to know whether Patrick’s violent behavior is actual or just a fantasy of his imagination. Such an analysis of the nature of crime questions the reality of criminal activity that we cannot change. It prompts us to consider how subjectivity and perception play a role in defining it.
Thus, American Psycho criticizes a culture that values materialism, superficiality, and moral indifference.
Denial vs. Stern Evaluation
In addition to appearance and social status encouraging Patrick, he is also a “victim” of hyper-consumerism. Individuality has a significant impact on conformity. Social criticism challenges us to wonder whether Patrick’s violent impulses and moral distance can relate to the superficial norms and social forces surrounding him. It raises issues about our collective moral obligations. At first glance, denying Patrick’s monster status is not stern.
However, did Patrick go wrong in the film, or is he simply suffering from severe schizophrenia or having delusions? The film’s director, Mary Harron, left it open at the end. Two different potential misunderstandings could make or break the way we view Patrick. The first is his indifference to the bad things he said to them. Second, did he kill? Despite Patrick believing the passage is accurate, those around him often confuse one person for another.
Their arrogance is the leading cause of what happened. Patrick was right in referring to killings and executions rather than buyouts and mergers. People do not care what others say because they are utterly oblivious to what is happening outside their bubble.
Victimhood and Consequences
Through Patrick’s role as the “victim” in a hyper-consumer culture, the film’s alienating and dehumanizing consequences Harron investigates. Patrick’s preoccupation with worldly goods and tenuous connections exposes the emptiness of his existence. He lived in a society where people gave up their individuality for conformity. As an outward sign of his alienation in a soulless world, his severe aggression resonates with criticism of consumer culture.
Patrick’s relationship with social norms extends beyond his interest in financial items. His relationships with co-workers, romantic interests, and even random people are shallow. The transactional nature of Patrick’s relationship contributes to his devotion to a sense of alienation and the dehumanizing effects of a hyper-consumer society. It is relevant whether Patrick has killed someone or not.
The fact that everyone constantly blindfolded themselves may have allowed Patrick to escape his crimes. In the second monologue, he claims that discussing it will cause his mask of sanity to come off. While taking his delusions into account, his schizophrenia worsens to the point where reality and delusions begin to merge. Soon, he will not be able to control his thoughts.
- Gottfredson, M. R., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford University Press.
- Hong, S., & Ha, J. H. (2018). Origin of aggression in modern society: based on film ‘American Psycho’. Psychoanal, 29(4), 63-71.
- Phillips, J. (2009). Unreliable narration in Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho: Interaction between narrative form and thematic content. Current Narratives, 1(1), 60-68.
- Todd, D. (2012). You are what you buy: Postmodern consumerism and the construction of self. Hohonu Academic Journal of University of Hawaii, 10, 48-50.
- Zittoun, T., Gillespie, A., & Cornish, F. (2009). Fragmentation or differentiation: Questioning the crisis in psychology. Integrative psychological and behavioral science, 43, 104-115.