The Psycho of Wall Street: Diagnosing Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

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Fifty years ago, a person breaking the law would either be called crazy or a criminal. Today, the mental health community has much more specific diagnoses. However, the explanation of certain behaviors may be difficult because there is much overlap among mental conditions. In Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, the protagonist, Patrick Bateman, is apparently simply a psychopath. However, Bateman can be diagnosed with other mental illnesses such as Asperger’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, narcissism, and antisocial personality disorder. In both the book and film adaptation, Bateman’s actions can be understood more accurately when analyzed in light of modern psychology.
Asperger’s syndrome is one of the mental
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“In ‘Old Antone’s’ one can catch the zydeco influences that the band has picked up…it gives it a Cajun flavor that is utterly unique,” says Bateman speaking about a Huey Lewis song (Ellis 336). He repeats such conversations before killing different victims in his apartment. This recurring routine before his murders is another symptom of Asperger’s syndrome.
Also having to do with Bateman’s obsession with some musical albums and their history, the mere fact that Bateman has these obsessions is another symptom of Asperger’s syndrome. “People with Asperger’s develop intense interests and obsessions in things such as music and history or schedules of sports teams” ("What is Asperger's Syndrome? Symptoms, tests, Causes, Treatments." WebMD). Bateman’s interest in some bands and artists is far beyond that of a normal fan. His deep analysis of musicians shows that he has an intense obsession with music history that someone with Asperger’s syndrome would have. Not only do individuals with Asperger’s become obsessed with a certain thing, but they also have a generally limited range of interests. Bateman does not show such interest with anything else as he does with music history and analysis.
Aside from routines and rituals, another essential symptom in Asperger’s is poor or nonexistent social skills. People with Asperger’s syndrome have difficulty during conversation and are awkward when starting conversation ("What is Asperger's Syndrome?
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