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 illnesses that manifests itself in Bateman the most. He displays a high functioning form of Asperger’s syndrome, yet there are still symptoms present in Bateman of which even the highest functioning people with Asperger’s syndrome cannot rid themselves. One of the key symptoms in Asperger’s syndrome is the need for strict routine. Routines are an essential part of an Asperger’s patient’s life. Individuals who suffer from Asperger’s follow strict routines that they cannot break. If these routines are interrupted, individuals with Asperger’s can get very upset to the point where a disruption in their daily routine can even ruin their entire day (Moreno).
Bateman demonstrates various routines throughout the novel. The first routine
encountered in the book is his morning routine. He has a specific daily routine that he follows every day. “I take the ice-pack mask off and use a deep-pore cleanser lotion, then an herb-mint facial masque which I leave on for ten minutes while I check my toenails” (Ellis 24). He goes through the same routine every single day, which might seem a bit unorthodox that someone would go through such an extensive routine daily. His routine continues after the facial cream applications to a specific order in how he gets dressed and shaves; “after I change into Ralph Lauren monogrammed boxer shorts and a Fair Isle sweater…” and he goes on, “leave the sideburns and chin for last…” (Ellis 25). People with Asperger’s disease may have “unusual preoccupations or rituals that he or she refuses to alter, such as getting dresses in a specific order” ("What is Asperger's Syndrome? Symptoms, tests, Causes, Treatments." WebMD). Bateman’s rituals and routines, however, do not end at his morning routine.
Bateman has another perennial routine throughout the novel. Time and time again throughout the story, Bateman remembers that he must return the videotapes he rents. “I’ve gotta return my videotapes” (Ellis 141), Bateman repeats numerous times. When he does not return his tapes, or if someone thwarts him, he becomes irritated at himself and those who interfere; “I forgot to return my videotapes to the store tonight and I curse myself silently while Scott orders two large bottles of San Pellegrino” (Ellis 90)....