What’s the Matter with Him?
Where to begin…?
Patrick Bateman is not as easy to analyze as he might seem (Which he would probably love to hear). What appears to be Antisocial Personality Disorder – a sociopath – is a little more complex, and a lot more confusing.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
In the same realm as Antisocial Personality Disorder, Patrick’s symptoms are as follows:
*Sense of self-importance
Patrick seems to believe that the fact that he has a lot of cash makes him an extremely important man. In fact, money is a facet of Patrick’s being that makes him “better” than most other people.
*Believes that he is “special;” can only be understood by or associate with high-status people
Even in his most desperate hour, Patrick calls a lawyer instead of a psychiatrist. When he takes Paul Allen out for dinner, Patrick makes a show of pretending to recognize Ivana Trump at a nearby table; he tells a private investigator he has a meeting at the Four Seasons (With the guy from The Cosby Show), and does not falter when Detective Kimball implies that Patrick has no idea where the Four Seasons is really located.
*Often envious of others/believes others are envious of him
His tone of condescension is evident through his constant narrative, but Patrick’s train of envy goes so far as to make the display of business cards at his office a tense and competitive affair.
Patrick’s Bateman’s hallucinations cannot be accounted for by a personality disorder. Patrick imagining horrific things happening, or imagining that they did not happen, can be explained by Schizophrenia, a rare but severe mental illness.
Patrick believes that he murders people (And cats) and confesses to doing so. While the confession turns out to have really occurred, the events leading up to it are shrouded in mystery. Upon arrival at the apartment where he supposedly stores multiple corpses, Patrick finds an empty apartment and that the tenant living there is not the one that he believes to occupy the place. Weirder still, the man he thinks he killed is said to actually be alive.
Does Patrick Bateman have Multiple Personalities?
Patrick frequently gets mistaken for other people and the inhabitants of his small corner of the world don’t pay a lot of attention to each other, but that does not mean he has split personalities. Dissociative Identity Disorder – often called Multiple Personality Disorder, and sometimes incorrectly called Schizophrenia – is characterized by the victim blacking out and assuming other “altars” or personalities. Since Patrick never blacks out and is conscious of pretending to be someone else to con Paul Allen, he does not have multiple identities (One of him is enough).
Is Patrick Bateman a Sociopath?
Are you shocked?
While his violent tendencies and lack of empathy paint Patrick as the epitome of a sociopath, it all depends on your interpretation of the movie.
The author believes that most of Patrick’s violent behavior, based on the way people react to it and the empty apartment, is imagined. While Patrick’s fantasies are certainly alarming, they do not make him a sociopath. Even the grotesque notebook that Jean discovers would imply that Patrick preoccupies himself with violent thoughts, but he does not act on them in reality. Furthermore, Patrick does not seek out ways to break the law, which is characteristic of a sociopath. The only time he is in violation of the law is when he seems to be hallucinating.
However, if you believe that Patrick’s actions really took place, then he absolutely is a sociopath.
What is important to point out is that Patrick Bateman believes that Patrick Bateman is a sociopath. Perhaps by believing this, he could be considered a sociopath.
It all depends on how you slice it.
Is there Hope for Patrick?
Sadly, this American psycho seems beyond repair. While there is a glimpse of prescription medication on Patrick’s bathroom counter just before he kills Paul Allen (Or thinks he kills Paul Allen), it is unclear whether Patrick takes the medication, what the medication is, or if there is even medication in the container in the first place.
This suggests that Patrick has sought help before, which means that Patrick Bateman knows that Patrick Bateman is crazy. Unfortunately, his confession at the end of the film falls on deaf or disbelieving ears, and brings no comfort to Patrick. The support system in his life is virtually non-existent; he speaks of no close family, and has no close friends. The only woman that cares about him has just found a sick catalog of his diabolical doodles, and Patrick seems to be the kind of guy that would sneer at anyone who visits a psychiatrist – which means he will never see one.
Thus, Patrick will probably never get better – not without a commitment to therapy. Lots of therapy.