Monday, March 26, 2012

American Psycho (2000) ~ Antisocial Personality Disorder

American Psycho stars Christian Bale, William Dafoe, Reese Witherspoon, and Josh Lucas. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a wealthy business man who has an alter-ego. The movie journeys with Bateman and his struggle to keep his other identity, a serial killer, a secret. The movie ends with a surprised twist and leaves the audience with the question of whether or not the serial killer inside of Bateman is fictional or not (www.imdb.com).

Accuracy: Antisocial Personality Disorder is very rare. Only three percent of males and one percent of females have this disorder. Some of the symptoms of this disorder are:impulsivity, severe and very violent aggressiveness, irresponsibility, deceitfulness, excessive lying,  and lack of remorse. I believe that some form of these symptoms are not rare; however for a person to be diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder means that they have most of these symptoms to the extreme level (www.psychcentral.com). A good majority of serial killers can be classified as having antisocial personality disorder.
                Bateman was very impulsive. Bateman is a psychopathic serial killer and that has impulsivity written all over it. I wanted to look at a different part of his life. Another aspect of his life in which he demonstrates impulsivity was his sexual life. He mentioned to the audience about having an affair with his fiancee's friend. There were also two instances where he had a threesome with hookers.
                The main character of this film is very aggressive as well. Throughout the whole entire film Bateman kills many different people. He first kills a woman, then a homeless man and his dog. Later during the movie he brutally kills one of his colleagues, Paul, using an axe. Bateman tortured and killed one of his prostitutes, then used a chainsaw to kill another. He uses many other weapons to murder other characters throughout the movie. Bateman also shows no remorse for any of the people he murders. Towards the end of the movie he accidently goes into the wrong apartment complex and starts shooting the security guard and janitor. This shows that he doesn't kill people to get revenge or because he has a personal negative relationship with them; he kills them to release his aggressiveness and for the thrill of killing.
                 Another interesting point to this movie is comorbidity. Comorbidity is having more than one disorder. While Bateman's primary disorder is antisocial, he seems to be having many hallucinations. For example, one day when he was at an ATM he read the screen and it said, 'Feed Stray Cat'. He then went out and murdered a cat. Another hallucination is when he realized he had a room in his apartment where he kept all the dead bodies and later figured out that there was no such thing. He went to that same room another day and saw that nothing was in it. Towards the end of the film Bateman confesses that he is a serial killer to his friend. His friend looks puzzled and recognizes him as another friend, named Davis. The last scene is Bateman's secretary pulling out a journal illustrating all his murders in detail using text and drawings. The movie ends without telling the audience if Bateman was truly a serial killer or if it was all in his head.

Not so Accurate: There is one tiny problem I had with the movie that is unrelated to psychology or personality disorders. If Patrick Bateman was truly a serial killer, how did he get away with all those murders for so long? If it was all in his mind, then it makes sense because no one would want to get caught for doing wrong. No matter what people think of Patrick Bateman, if he was a serial killer or if it was just his unconscious playing out in his mind, I would still classify him as antisocial. A great example would be the detailed journal he kept in his desk. This showed that he is still extreme on all the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder.
                         This movie was very interesting and somewhat disturbing. I wanted to do different disorders for each of my blog posts and antisocial personality disorder always interested me. People usually think antisocial has to do with being alone and not wanting to interact with others. This movie demonstrates how it is much more than just wanting to be a loner.



http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0144084/synopsis
http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx7.htm


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