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Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman is a fictional character, the anti-hero and narrator of the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and its film adaptation.

Biography and profile

When he is first introduced in Ellis' novel, young investment banker Patrick Bateman's "mask of sanity" is about to slip, according to his own admission. Bateman works as a specialist in mergers and acquisitions at the fictional Wall Street investment firm of Pierce & Pierce (also Sherman McCoy's firm in The Bonfire of the Vanities) and lives on the 55 West 81st Street, Upper West Side in the American Gardens Building (where he is a neighbor of actor Tom Cruise. In his "secret life", however, Bateman is a serial killer who murders a variety of people, from colleagues to the homeless, to prostitutes. His crimes, including rape, torture, murder, necrophilia and cannibalism, are described in graphic detail in the novel.

Bateman comes from a wealthy family. His parents have a home on Long Island, and he mentions a summer home in Newport. His parents divorced sometime earlier, while his mother became sick and now resides at a sanatorium. His father, who first appeared in the preceding novel The Rules of Attraction, grew up on an estate in Connecticut, and now owns an apartment in the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, although he was apparently dying in the previous novel and, unlike his ex-wife, is mentioned only in past tense during the novel. His younger brother Sean attends Camden College (and is the protagonist of The Rules of Attraction) where he loses his toe on many an occasion. Bateman attended Phillips Exeter Academy for prep school. He graduated from Harvard University in 1984, and Harvard Business School two years later and moved to New York City.

Bateman's personality

As written by Ellis, Bateman is the ultimate stereotype of yuppie greed: rich, shallow, and addicted to sex, drugs, and conspicuous consumption. All of his friends look alike to him, to the point that he often confuses one for another, and they often confuse him for other people. He obsessively details every single feature of his clothes, stereo, workout routine, and business card. He is engaged to an equally rich, shallow woman named Evelyn. They can't stand each other, but they stay together for the sake of their social lives. He has a mistress on the side (the fiancée of a colleague he hates) and has regular liaisons with prostitutes and women he encounters at clubs, many of whom end up being his victims. The one woman (and possibly the one person) in his life he has anything approaching feelings for is his secretary, Jean. He just cannot bring himself to seduce, rape or kill her, perhaps because she is the only person in his life who is not completely shallow. Every time he mentions Jean throughout the novel, he casually acknowledges her as "Jean, my secretary who is in love with me" and introduces her in the narration as someone he "will probably end up married to someday".

While on the surface, Bateman seems to be the embodiment of the suave, attractive and successful businessman, he appears to loathe himself as much as he does everyone else; he kills many of his victims because they make him feel inadequate, usually by having better taste than he does. His friends mock him as the "boy next door", his own lawyer refers to him as a "bloody ass-kisser... a brown-nosing goody-goody", and he is often dismissed as "yuppie trash" by people outside of his social circle.

Bateman often expresses doubts regarding his own sanity, and he has periodic attacks of psychosis, during which he hallucinates. He often experiences feelings of depersonalization. In his own words, "...though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel my flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I am simply not there." Although Bateman often claims that he is devoid of emotion, he also describes experiencing moments or periods of extreme rage, panic or grief, often over trivial inconveniences such as not being able to get a good table at a restaurant. In the middle of dismembering a victim, he breaks down, sobbing that he "just wants to be loved." To get these attacks under control he takes psychotropics, like Xanax.

Bateman compensates for these inabilities and insecurities through obsessive vanity and personal grooming, with unwavering attention to detail. He dresses in and uses the most fashionable, expensive clothing and accessories possible (e.g. Valentino suits, Oliver Peoples glasses and Jean Paul Gaultier overnight bags) as a means of affecting some "control" over his otherwise chaotic life. Likewise, he categorizes people by what they wear and how they look because they are more easily "understood" in terms of labels and stereotypes. Bateman's apartment also is firmly controlled in terms of look and taste, with the latest music, food, and paintings.

Bateman does not fit the "typical" profile of a serial killer, as he kills more or less indiscriminately, with no preferred type of victim and no consistent or preferred method of killing. Throughout the novel, he kills men, women, a child, and animals. He kills women mostly for sadistic sexual pleasure, often during or just after sex, and is also a prolific rapist. He kills men because they anger or annoy him, and the child just to see if he would enjoy it (which he doesn't).

Periodically, he matter-of-factly confesses his crimes to his friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers ("I like to dissect girls; do you know I'm utterly insane?") just to see if they are actually listening to him. They either are not, or think he is joking. In the climactic scene, he calls his lawyer and leaves a lengthy, detailed message confessing all of his crimes. He later runs into his lawyer, who mistakes him for someone else and dismisses the confession as a hilarious joke. Bateman is never arrested or even suspected for the enormous number of murders he commits.

Bateman outside of American Psycho

Bateman made his first appearance in Ellis' 1987 novel The Rules of Attraction (in which Sean, his brother, is the main character); no indication is given that he is a serial killer. Bateman also makes a short appearance in Ellis' 1998 novel Glamorama, with "strange stains" on the lapel of his Armani suit.

Bateman also appeared in the American Psycho 2000 e-mails (transcribed here), which were written as an advertisement campaign for the movie. Although they are often mistakenly credited to Ellis, they were actually written by one or more unnamed author(s) and approved by Ellis before being sent out. American Psycho 2000 served as a sort of "e-quel" to the original novel. The e-mails take place in 2000, a little over a decade since the novel. Bateman is in therapy with a Dr. M. He is also married to Jean, his former secretary. They have a son, Patrick Bateman Jr. (P.B.), who is eight years old. In the story, Bateman talks about therapy, trying to get a divorce from Jean, his renewed feelings about murder, and idolizing his son. In the end it is revealed that the 'real' Bateman who 'writes' the e-mails, is the owner of the company that produces the movie.

Bateman appeared in Ellis' 2005 novel Lunar Park, in which Ellis confesses that writing American Psycho felt like channeling the words of a violent spirit rather than writing anything himself. This ghost — Bateman — haunts Ellis' McMansion. A character also comes to Ellis' Halloween party dressed as Patrick Bateman. Toward the novel's end, Ellis writes the 'last' Bateman story as a way of confronting and controlling the character, as well as the issues Ellis created Bateman as a means of countering. Bateman, for all intents and purposes, dies in a fire on a boat dock.

Patrick Bateman briefly appears in the Anno Dracula story "Andy Warhol's Dracula: Anno Dracula 1978-1979".

Most recently, "Patrick Bateman M.D." was used as an alias by Dexter Morgan, the protagonist of Showtime's Dexter, whenever he had to order the strong animal tranquilizer he uses in his murders. According to Dexter, the reason for choosing the name was because it sounded, "So wholesome, so inconspicuous".

Patrick Bateman was credited as a character in the 2006 film Broken directed by Simon Boyes and Adam Mason, but the character never actually appeared in the movie. During the directors' audio commentary, Boyes and Mason state that they had simply made up many of the ending credits for their own amusement, and the Bateman credit was one of them.

Bateman in film

Though Bale had been the first choice for the part by both Ellis and Harron, the producers offered the part to Keanu Reeves, Edward Norton, and Brad Pitt. Leonardo DiCaprio was set to play the character, but dropped out of the film. Bateman was also portrayed by Dechen Thurman (brother of Uma) in the 2000 documentary This Is Not an Exit: The Fictional World of Bret Easton Ellis. Michael Kremko played Bateman in the spin-off American Psycho 2, in which the character is killed by a would-be victim.

Scenes with the character were shot for the 2002 film adaptation of The Rules of Attraction. Ellis revealed in an interview that director Roger Avary asked Bale to reprise the role, but Bale turned down the offer, and Avary asked Ellis himself to portray Bateman. Ellis refused, stating that he "thought it was such a terrible and gimmicky idea", and Avary eventually shot the scenes with Casper Van Dien. The scenes, however, were ultimately cut from the final version of the film.

Chronology of Bateman's Life

  • ca. October 1, 1960 - October 23, 1962: Patrick Bateman is born.
  • 1980: Bateman graduates from Phillips Exeter Academy.
  • 1984: Bateman graduates from Harvard University.
  • 1985: Bateman has a short discussion with his estranged brother Sean about his future.
  • 1986: Bateman graduates from Harvard Business School.
    • From the time of his graduation, through the end of American Psycho, Bateman works at Pierce & Pierce.
  • ca. 1996: Bateman shows up at Victor's club in Glamorama with "strange stains" on his suit.
  • 2000: Bateman enters therapy with a Dr. M. This appears in the American Psycho 2000 e-mails. In these emails, he is divorcing Jean, to whom he has been married for at least five years, and has a son. He has apparently started his own brokerage firm and seems to be even richer than he was in the original novel. His tastes are even more rarefied. His homicidal tendencies (or thoughts) seem to have cooled a little with the birth of his son, but have not disappeared completely.
  • 2003: Ellis kills Patrick Bateman by writing an extraordinary account of the serial killer being trapped in a pier fire. See Lunar Park.

Patrick Bateman in popular culture

  • Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers released a song called "Patrick Bateman" as a B-side to their single "La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)".
  • Patrick Bateman was Dexter Morgan's alias in an episode of Dexter, where he gave the police force a false name.
  • American black metal band Krieg released an EP titled Patrick Bateman.
  • Hip-hop emcee Louis Logic mentions Bateman in the song "Diablos (feat. Celph Titled)," referring to his sick fascination with the character.
  • Finnish metal band Children of Bodom released the song "Mask of Sanity" on their album Follow the Reaper, a reference to Bateman's mentioning letting his "mask of sanity slip". Also, in the beginning of the track "Angels Don't Kill", on their album Hate Crew Deathroll they sample part of his speech in the final moments of the movie. The phrase sampled is: "My pain is constant and sharp, and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others, I want no one to escape"
  • Canadian hip-hop band Swollen Members mentions Bateman in their song "Paranoia", with the line: "No one's trying to kill you, stupid. There's no Norman Bates peeking in your window, there's no Patrick Bateman trying to pick you up in limos."
  • Patrick Bateman is also one of the alter-egos for one of the members of the New York Shock Exchange, the men's roller derby team in New York City.


  • IMDB, Internet Movie Database,, 1/17/07, Pg. 4 Para 5

External links

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