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Encyclopedia > American Psycho
American Psycho

American Psycho book cover
Author Bret Easton Ellis
Cover artist Marshall Arisman
Country USA
Language English
Subject(s) Satire of consumerism[1]
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Vintage Books, New York
Publication date 1991
Pages 384
ISBN See Below

American Psycho is a 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis. It is a first-person narrative of the life of a wealthy young Manhattanite and self-proclaimed serial killer. The graphic violence and sexual content was widely commented upon at the novel's release. A film adaptation was released in 2000 to mostly positive reviews.[2] That same year, Ellis approved emails collected under the title "AmPsycho 2000 Emails" that were sent from main character Patrick Bateman to his therapist.[3] Users could sign up to receive these emails at Universal's website for the movie. American Psycho may refer to: American Psycho, a 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis American Psycho (film), the movie based on the novel American Psycho (album), an album by The Misfits American Psycho, a single from the album Wide Awake Bored by Treble Charger ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (744x1138, 278 KB)American Psycho novel (hardcover) This image is a book cover. ... Bret Easton Ellis (born March 7, 1935 in Los Angeles, California) is an American author. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... Motto: (traditional) In God We Trust (official, 1956–present) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington, D.C. Largest city New York City Official language(s) None at the federal level; English de facto Government Federal Republic  - President George W. Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence - Declared - Recognized... 1867 edition of Punch, a ground-breaking British magazine of popular humour, including a good deal of satire of the contemporary social and political scene. ... Consumerist redirects here. ... This article is about the literary concept. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Random House is a publishing division of the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann based in New York City. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... See also: 1990 in literature, other events of 1991, 1992 in literature, list of years in literature. ... ISBN redirects here. ... For other uses, see American Psycho (disambiguation). ... Bret Easton Ellis (born March 7, 1935 in Los Angeles, California) is an American author. ... First-person narrative is a literary technique in which the story is narrated by one character, who explicitly refers to him or herself in the first person, that is, I. the narrator is a fool putting his nose into the storytelling exercise. ... This article is about the borough of New York City. ... Serial killers are individuals who have a history of multiple slayings of victims who were usually unknown to them beforehand. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The year 2000 in film involved some significant events. ...



Set in Manhattan in the late 1980s, American Psycho spans roughly two years in the life of wealthy young investment banker Patrick Bateman. Bateman, 26 years old when the story begins, narrates his everyday activities, from his daily life among the upper-class elite of New York to his forays into murder by nightfall. This article is about the borough of New York City. ... Investment banks help companies and governments (or their agencies) raise money by issuing and selling securities in the capital markets (both equity and debt). ... Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman Patrick Bateman is a fictional character, the protagonist and narrator of the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and its film adaptation. ... This article is about the state. ...

Bateman comes from a privileged background, having graduated from Philips Exeter Academy, Harvard (class of 1984), and then Harvard Business School (class of 1986). He works as a vice president at a fictional Wall Street investment bank, Pierce & Pierce (the same investment bank at which Sherman McCoy works in The Bonfire of the Vanities), and lives in an expensive Manhattan apartment on the Upper West Side. He embodies the 1980s yuppie culture. Through stream-of-consciousness narrative he describes his conversations with colleagues in bars and cafes, his office, and nightclubs, satirizing the vanity of Manhattan yuppies. About Phillips Exeter Photo of the Academy Building Phillips Exeter Academy (also called Exeter or PEA) is a co-educational independent boarding school located on 471 acres (1. ... Harvard University is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and a member of the Ivy League. ... Elaborate marble facade of NYSE as seen from the intersection of Broad and Wall Streets For other uses, see Wall Street (disambiguation). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... This article is about the borough of New York City. ... The Upper West Side is a neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan in New York City that lies between Central Park and the Hudson River above West 59th Street. ... Yuppies (young urban professionals, young up and coming professionals or less commonly young upwardly-mobile professionals[1]) is a market segment whose consumers are characterized as self-reliant, financially secure individualists. ... In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a literary technique that seeks to portray an individuals point of view by giving the written equivalent of the characters thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her sensory reactions to external occurrences. ...

The first third of the book contains no violence, and is simply an account of what seems to be a single Friday night, as Bateman documents traveling with his colleagues to a series of nightclubs, where they indulge in massive amounts of cocaine, drink a variety of alcoholic beverages, critique fellow clubgoers' clothing, trade fashion advice, and question one another on proper etiquette. Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. ... Alcoholic beverages are drinks containing ethanol, popularly called alcohol. ... It has been suggested that Office etiquette be merged into this article or section. ...

Beginning with the second third of the book, Bateman begins to describe his day-to-day activities, which range from committing brutal murders to such mundanities as renting videotapes and making dinner reservations. Bateman's stream of consciousness is occasionally broken up by chapters in which Bateman directly addresses the reader in order to critique the works of various 1980s musicians such as Whitney Houston. Whitney Elizabeth Houston (born August 9, 1963) is a six-time Grammy award winning, American R&B singer, soprano, pianist, actress, film producer, and former model. ...

In addition to describing his daily life, Bateman also speaks at length about his love life. He is engaged to a fellow yuppie named Evelyn, though he possesses no deep feelings for anyone; additionally, he frequently solicits sex with attractive women ("hardbodies"), lusts after his secretary, and tries to avoid the attention of Luis, a closeted homosexual yuppie who confesses his love for Patrick. Bateman also documents his relationship with his estranged family, including his senile mother, whom he visits to present with a pair of Wayfarers while she lays semi-comatose in a nursing home, and his younger brother, a yuppie frat boy. “Engaged” redirects here. ... Dementia (from Latin demens) is progressive decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the brain beyond what might be expected from normal aging. ... The Ray Ban Wayfarer, elevated to cult status by Tom Cruise in the film Risky Business, are sunglasses available with polarized lenses and spring hinges. ... While the terms fraternity and sorority may be used to describe any number of social and charitable organizations, including the Lions Club, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, International, and the Shriners, in the United States and Canada fraternities and sororities are most commonly known as social organizations of higher education students (though...

As the book progresses, Bateman's grip on reality seems to begin deteriorating and his murders become increasingly violent and complex, going from simple acts of violence to drawn out sequences of torture, rape, mutilation, cannibalism, and necrophilia. He starts to randomly slip in anecdotes about serial killers into his casual conversations, and at some points confesses to murder to his co-workers, who either react as if Bateman is simply joking with them and displaying his interest in a strange hobby, or completely misunderstand him ("murders and executions" becomes "mergers and acquisitions"). As the book nears its conclusion, Bateman begins to describe such incidents as seeing a Cheerio interviewed on a talk show, being stalked by an anthropomorphic park bench, and being ordered to kill cats by a demonic ATM. These incidents both serve to demonstrate Patrick's mental state and to draw into question whether Bateman has actually committed any of the murders he has described, or whether or not he was insane to begin with. A box of Cheerios breakfast cereal. ... Anthropomorphism, also referred to as personification or prosopopeia, is the attribution of human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, forces of nature, and others. ... Cash machine redirects here. ...

The book ends with a scene similar to its beginning, as Bateman sits in a club, staring at a sign that reads "THIS IS NOT AN EXIT."


See Patrick Bateman's entry and the film's entry for more analysis of Bateman's exploits.

In the course of his narration Bateman claims to have tortured and killed both people and animals; most notably several attractive women, among them his ex-girlfriend Bethany, a prostitute, and various sexual partners he picks up; as well as many acquaintances, colleagues, homeless beggars, total strangers, and even a 5-year-old child. If his accounts of his crimes are taken at face value, Bateman is incredibly sadistic, recording his victims' pleas for mercy and deliberately keeping them alive and conscious in order to inflict more pain on them; he takes perverse pleasure in butchering and defiling their bodies, keeping various "trophies" and having sex with the corpses, sometimes only their heads. As the book progresses, Bateman's actions become increasingly violent and sexually oriented, culminating in a series of murders in which Bateman chainsaws women to death and inserts glass tubes into their vaginas so as to insert rats into their vaginal cavities, which he then smears with cheese so that the rodents eat their way out. Bateman, at various points in the book, practices cannibalism, eating raw and cooked portions of his victims. Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman Patrick Bateman is a fictional character, the protagonist and narrator of the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and its film adaptation. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Whore redirects here. ... Some loving-cup trophies seen in the London Irish clubhouse at Sunbury in 2002. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Cannibal redirects here. ...

In the final pages of the book, Bateman has strange encounters with several people that indicate Bateman may not have committed any of the actions in the book, and, albeit being a true psychopath, has not actually acted upon his urges. Initially, he is informed by his attorney that they recently had dinner with one of his victims; in another sequence, he gets into an altercation with a taxi driver whose friend he may or may not have killed. Ultimately, it is left ambiguous as to whether or not any of the murders Batemen described actually happened, or if he is a morbid version of Walter Mitty. Information Nickname(s) The Old Man (in one fantasy) Occupation unknown; various fantasy occupations Title Commander, Doctor (in fantasies) Spouse(s) unnamed except as Mrs. ...


Major characters

  • Patrick Bateman
  • Evelyn Williams - Bateman's fiancee
  • Timothy Price (Timothy Bryce in the film version) - Bateman's best friend and colleague
  • Paul Owen (Paul Allen in the film version) - Bateman's colleague
  • Jean - Bateman's secretary (who is in love with him)
  • Luis Carruthers - Co-worker who is in love with Bateman
  • Courtney Lawrence (Courtney Rawlinson in the film version) - Luis's girlfriend who is having an affair with Bateman
  • Craig McDermott - Bateman's colleague, part of a social foursome (later a trio for most of the novel) alongside Bateman, Timothy Price and David Van Patten
  • David Van Patten - Bateman's colleague, also part of Bateman's main social group

Minor characters

  • Christy - A prostitute, employed and abused sexually on multiple occasions by Bateman
  • Marcus Halberstam - Bateman's colleague; Paul Owen repeatedly mistakes Bateman for Marcus
  • Donald Kimball - Private detective hired to investigate Paul Owen's disappearance
  • Tom Cruise - Patrick Bateman shares an apartment block with Cruise, and encounters him in the building's elevator
  • Jeremy Gorman - Minor role as a singer in a gay club Bateman visits.
  • Sean Bateman - younger brother of Patrick Bateman and also the lead character of The Rules of Attraction
  • Christopher Armstrong - Bateman's colleague at Pierce & Pierce
  • Huey Lewis & The News - discussed by Bateman for an entire chapter.
  • Whitney Houston - discussed by Bateman for an entire chapter.
  • U2 - Bateman and his friends attend a U2 concert where he feels a connection with Bono during a song.

Tom Cruise (born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV on July 3, 1962) is an Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe Award-winning American actor and film producer. ... Sean Bateman is a fictional character used by author Bret Easton Ellis. ... The Rules of Attraction is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis published in 1987 and made into a film by the same name in 2002. ... Huey Lewis & The News is a Grammy winning and Academy Award nominated US rock band based in San Francisco, California. ... Whitney Elizabeth Houston (born August 9, 1963) is a six-time Grammy award winning, American R&B singer, soprano, pianist, actress, film producer, and former model. ... This article is about the Irish rock band. ...

Bateman's personality

Main article: Patrick Bateman
Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in the film adaptation.
Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in the film adaptation.

On first appearance, Bateman exemplifies the image of the successful Manhattan executive; he is well-educated, wealthy, unusually popular with women, abreast of cultural trends, belongs to a prominent family, has a high-paying job, and lives in an upscale, chic apartment complex. Bateman passes for a refined, intelligent, thoughtful young man. Yet, contrary to his persona, he tortures and murders victims, practices violent sex, cannibalizes victims, and sexually penetrates body parts of corpses. Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman Patrick Bateman is a fictional character, the protagonist and narrator of the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and its film adaptation. ... Image File history File links Batemanas. ... Christian Charles Philip Bale (also known professionally as Christian Morgan Bale; born 30 January 1974) is an acclaimed British[2][3] Actor who is known for his roles in the films Newsies, American Psycho, Shaft, Equilibrium, The Machinist, Batman Begins, and The Prestige, among others. ...

Bateman is extremely style-conscious, and appears an expert in fashion and high-end consumer products. In his narrative, he obsessively describes his and other people's possessions in exhaustive detail, focusing particularly on attire, and even noting articles like pens, and pocket squares. He has a general tendency to pay more heed to the designer, place of purchase, and style of the items he describes, often ignoring the textile type or color. For transportation, Bateman uses personal limousines to search for suitable victims in the streets. Bateman incisively answers his friends' and co-workers' queries, authoritatively explicating the difference between various types of mineral water, which tie knot is less bulky than a Windsor knot, and the proper way to wear a cummerbund, pocket square, or tie bar. In many places, mineral water is often colloquially used to mean carbonated water (which is usually carbonated mineral water, as opposed to tap water). ... A Windsor knot. ... Orange cummerbund A cummerbund is a broad waist sash, usually pleated, which is often worn with black tie. ... Linen handkerchief A handkerchief or hanky is a square of fabric, usually carried in the pocket, for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping ones hands or blowing ones nose, but also used as a decorative accessory in a suit pocket. ... A tie slide, alongside a buttering knife for size comparison purposes A tie bar or tie slide is an item of mens clothing. ...

Bateman's job is a sinecure to which he feels no need to apply himself, owing to his family's wealth and influence. He is supreme in his own world; he usually comes to work late—sometimes by more than an hour—and indulges in long lunches. Despite these advantages, Bateman's envy of his peers runs throughout the novel. In a scene in which characters compare business cards, Bateman panics when he realizes a friend's card is superior to his because it includes a watermark. A sinecure (from Latin sine, without, and cura, care) means an office which requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service. ... This article is about physical paper watermarks. ...


A recent reprinting of the book.
A recent reprinting of the book.
  • The book was originally to have been published by Simon & Schuster in March 1991, but the company withdrew from the project because of the novel's content. Vintage Books purchased the rights to the novel and published an edited version of Ellis' original manuscript. Some say the book was not changed all that much, while others have contended that the version that is in circulation today is significantly toned down from Ellis' original work.[citation needed]
  • Ellis received numerous death threats and hate mail after the publication of American Psycho.[1][4]
  • Feminist activist Gloria Steinem was among those opposed to the release of Ellis' book because of its portrayal of violence towards women. Steinem is also the stepmother of Christian Bale, who portrayed Bateman in the film adaptation of the novel. This irony is mentioned in Ellis's mock memoir Lunar Park.
  • In Germany the book was deemed "harmful to minors", hence its sales and marketing were severely restricted from 1995 to 2000.
  • A copy of the book was found in the house rented by Canadian serial murderers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, leading to speculation that the book had motivated Bernardo's crimes.[citation needed] However, there is no evidence that this was the case. Bernardo committed his real-life crimes assisted by Homolka, whereas in the book, Bateman committed his crimes by himself. In addition, the first murder by Bernardo and Homolka happened in December 1990, before the book's publication.
  • In Australia the book is sometimes sold shrink-wrapped and is classified R18 under national censorship legislation. The book may not be sold to those under 18 years of age, otherwise criminal prosecution may result. Along with other Category 1 publications, its sale is theoretically banned in the state of Queensland. In Brisbane, the novel is available to those over eighteen from all public libraries and is still able to be ordered and purchased (shrink wrapped) from many book stores despite this prohibition.

Image File history File links Download high resolution version (640x1008, 76 KB) Summary Taken from the modernest book, as only the old one exists on the page. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (640x1008, 76 KB) Summary Taken from the modernest book, as only the old one exists on the page. ... Jean-François Millet Le Semeur (The Sower) Simon & Schuster logo, circa 1961. ... Vintage Books was founded in 1954 by Alfred A. Knopf as a trade paperback home for its authors. ... Gloria Steinem at news conference, Womens Action Alliance, January 12, 1972 Gloria Marie Steinem (born March 25, 1934) is an American feminist icon, journalist and womens rights advocate. ... Christian Charles Philip Bale (also known professionally as Christian Morgan Bale; born 30 January 1974) is an acclaimed British[2][3] Actor who is known for his roles in the films Newsies, American Psycho, Shaft, Equilibrium, The Machinist, Batman Begins, and The Prestige, among others. ... Lunar Park is a combined semi-autobiographical novelization of the life of Bret Easton Ellis and is a ghost story in the vein of Stephen King. ... Paul Kenneth Bernardo, (he later assumed the name Paul Teale) (born August 27, 1964 in Scarborough, Ontario), is a Canadian serial killer, known for the murders he committed with his wife Karla Homolka. ... Karla Leanne Homolka, also known as Karla Leanne Teale, (born May 4, 1970 in Port Credit, Ontario, Canada), is a Canadian serial killer who attracted worldwide media attention when she was convicted of helping her husband, Paul Bernardo, rape and murder teenage girls, including her sister Tammy Homolka. ...

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs)

  • ISBN 0-671-66397-6 (hardcover, 1991)
  • ISBN 0-679-73577-1 (paperback, 1991)
  • ISBN 84-406-3712-8 (paperback, 2000)
  • ISBN 2-02-025380-1 (paperback, 2000)
  • ISBN 3-462-02261-X (paperback, 2000)
  • ISBN 0-330-48477-X (paperback, 2000)
  • ISBN 0-330-49189-X (paperback, 2002)
  • ISBN 978-0-330-44801-7 (paperback, 2006)

See also

The aestheticization of violence in high culture art or mass media is the depiction of violence in a manner that is stylistically excessive in a significant and sustained way so that audience members are able to connect references from the play of images and signs to artworks, genre conventions, cultural...


  1. ^ a b Messier, Vartan (2005). "Canons of Transgression: Shock, Scandal, and Subversion from Matthew Lewis's The Monk to Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho" (pdf). Dissertation Abstracts International 43 (4): 1085 ff. (University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez). Chapter Pornography and Violence: The Dialectics of Transgression in Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho provides an in-depth analysis of the novel.
  2. ^ Metacritic reviews for American Psycho
  3. ^ http://www.briankotek.com/psycho/movie/am2000.cfm
  4. ^ Bret Easton Ellis at the Internet Movie Database

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about movies, actors, television shows, production crew personnel, and video games. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Patrick Bateman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1896 words)
Patrick "Pat" Bateman is a fictional character, the protagonist and narrator of the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.
American Psycho 2000 served as a sort of "e-quel" to the original novel.
Many question how much of Patrick Bateman's story in American Psycho is true; and Sean Bateman's narration in The Rules Of Attraction sometimes clashes with other character's versions of a given story.
  More results at FactBites »



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