Jul 30, 2020 in Psychology

Abnormal Psychology in the Media

Understanding of the abnormal psychology is closely associated with the mental illnesses and disorders that become the obstacles for the normal co-existing with other people in the society. While there is a great number of the interesting examples in real life, an average person can hardly become deeply aware of the problems that the mentally ill person can experience. Hence, media is a good mean to present the detailed image of a psycho and let one analyze the underlying reasons of the deviant behavior and the possibly ways to treat the disorder. The current paper will focus on the character of Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho” and describe the abnormal behavior from the five perspectives of abnormal psychology to prove that the cognitive behavioral one is the most appropriate to understand the current ASPD case.

Patrick Bateman’s case is quite interesting as it represents the young man, who seems absolutely normal and successful representative of the NY elite from the first view. He wears the expensive clothes, takes care of his skin, has a successful career, beautiful fiancée and friends. Hence, nothing makes him resemble a psycho or even a person who has any problems. However, as his life is represented in more details, the spectators find out that he lives a second life, which is the life of a serial killer. He has a need to kill people without a reason, simply to get satisfied.


With regard to his behavior, one can diagnose his state as the antisocial personality disorder. According to Conti, ASPD is commonly characterized by such symptoms as failure to correspond to social norms, deceitfulness, impulsivity, irritability, safety disregard, irresponsibility and lack of remorse. Among the symptoms that characterize Bateman, one can find the obvious violation of the rights of other people, superficial charm and the lack of remorse for his actions. In addition to that, one can see that the person has obviously lost the moral compass. He misunderstands what is wrong and right, he manipulates people, deceives them and easily murders. No sense of morality or remorse can be observed as Bateman commits the murders. Moreover, the lack of emotions characterizes his breakup with his fiancé. In addition, one can also observe the schizotypal behavior of this character. Mainly the particular attention to details and repetitions must be considered in such case. His speech also must be considered. In particular, the lack of emotions and flawless style characterize his indifference to those, with whom he communicates and can be characterized by schizotypal behavior. In addition, the behavior of Bateman is marked by the break from reality and dependence on other people. At the same time, his opinion can rapidly change and he can become aggressive without any obvious reasons, but actually due to the feeling of some threat to his success. Therefore, one can conclude that the aggression of the abandonment by the world that seems hated by Bateman. However, even so he is afraid to lose position. Hence, the borderline behavior can also be addressed when analyzing Bateman’s personality.

From the biological perspective, Bateman’s illness must have the biological roots. In particular, it is necessary to refer to genetics to investigate the case and consider his abnormal behavior as one that is predetermined by the failures in the functioning of the nervous system. With the lack of the background information and possibility to test the patient, this perspective is not appropriate in the current case.

The psychodynamic perspective is more informative on Bateman’s case as it can be used to explain the diminished ego and self-concept of the man. According to Freud, the id, ego and superego must interact to create a personality. While the id represents the basic needs, the superego is a higher rules and morality and the ego is the moderator between two. In case of Bateman, the normal functioning of the three parts is disrupted, and the ego seems not to exist at all. Bateman feels absence of self and too often does not control his behavior. At the same time, his superego becomes a source of violence due to a very specific personal set of rules that seem correct for him. As a result, the immoral acts become the means to punish people, who become somehow guilty in his perverted mind. As a result, the darkest id of Bateman was set free to evoke the killing instinct. Such approach is effective to treat the ASPD and abnormal emotional responses or risky behaviors like in the current case.

From the humanistic perspective, as well as any other person, Bateman should have the tendency to self-actualization and become capable of being. According to this view, the behavior of Bateman can be understood by understanding the authenticity and self-actualization in more details. Moreover, the subjective view of the world must be defined and analyzed. In fact, such approach would lead the scholars to investigation of childhood and the regard on self that was formed by parents. In case of abnormal behavior, the parents were unlikely to ensure the unconditional positive regard. Instead, Bateman’s parents have more likely showed him the conditional one. As a result, the man has not become his true self. This option seems appropriate with case of Bateman, who felt as if he was absent or could not control something. Hence, the therapies that should become helpful in this case would be the client-centered therapy.

The behavioristic perspective is also appropriate in the current case. From the cognitive behavioral perspective, the deviations in Bateman’s behavior must be predetermined by the environment he lives in and is caused by the faulty learning that has occurred on some stage. The strength of such therapy is that it is simultaneously focused on the problem and oriented to take actions. In the current case, it is necessary to make the patient refuse from murdering people. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on the internal problems of a person. In particular, the irrational thoughts about self and others must be changed. Encouraging the realistic view on the world, the positive thoughts and working on the emotionality level are the basic techniques of the treatment. It is crucial to understand that the hostile attitude to the world can be changed only through tackling the inner conflicts.

From the sociocultural perspective, the abnormal behavior is predetermined by the social and cultural factors. In such case, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status need to be considered. With regard to the gender factor, it is necessary to pay attention that males really suffer from antisocial disorder more often the women. Hence, Bateman belongs to a risk group. At the same time, no influences associated with the ethnic background can be found in this case due to the absence of information. As for the social causation, the position of Bateman contradicts the statistics that report the higher prevalence of behavior problems among the poor people. According to this theory, the best treatment for such patient would be the investigation of the social stressors and focusing on the means to decrease the patients’ vulnerability to them. However, this approach does not seem appropriate in the current case due to the lack of information and not enough attention to the inner problems of Bateman that obviously exist.

To sum it up, the analysis of the case from five perspectives of the abnormal behavior shows that the psychodynamic one is the most appropriate. In particular, the diminished ego role explains the symptoms of Bateman the most clearly at least with regard to the information that is present. The symptoms show that the man’s behavior is schizotypal and antisocial. Overall, the patient-centered therapy can become the most effective to solve the existing inner problems of Bateman.

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