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Though I am satisfied at first by my actions, I'm suddenly jolted with a mournful despair at how useless, how extraordinarily painless, it is to take a child's life. This thing before me, small and twisted and bloody, has no real history, no worthwhile past, nothing is really lost. It's so much worse (and more pleasurable) taking the life of someone who has hit his or her prime, who has the beginnings of a full history, a spouse, a network of friends, a career, whose death will upset far more people whose capacity for grief is limitless than a child's would, perhaps ruin many more lives than just the meaningless, puny death of this boy. I'm automatically seized with an almost overwhelming desire to knife the boy's mother too, who is in hysterics, but all I can do is slap her face harshly and shout for her to calm down.
~ Patrick Bateman's thoughts while murdering a small child in front of his grieving mother

Patrick Bateman is the main protagonist and (dubiously reliable) narrator of the transgressive/postmodern fiction and psychological horror novel American Psycho, which is restricted or censored under multiple legislatures largely due to the nature and actions of this character.

Patrick is a wealthy, materialistic Wall Street investment banker who moonlights as possibly one of the most vicious serial killers in fiction, as his tortures and defilements of women are described in graphic detail and may span almost entire chapters; he is also cannibalistic, necrophilic, and habitually cruel to animals. His depraved nature notwithstanding, he embodies the worst aspects of capitalism and nearly every stereotype of 1980s yuppies through his greed, superficiality (from which he ironically accuses everyone else in his environment of suffering), and conspicuous consumption as he obsessively details virtually every feature of his (and others') designer clothes, daily routines, home possessions, and so forth throughout the novel. In addition to this, he occasionally goes off on lengthy, hollow, or even plagiarized tangents regarding subjects such as politics and popular music (the latter seemingly to himself as memorization)—most likely in an attempt to conform or to impress his peers via this contrived veneer of sophistication and contemporaneity.

As he seeks to in some way escape the mundanity of both of the lives he leads while striving to "fit in", his sanity deteriorates and his violence intensifies, while his even shallower peers and even his fiancé strangely either overlook or outright disregard his psychopathic tendencies and the obvious hints thereof—suggesting that they are as apathetic and devoid of empathy as he is. Furthermore, he is virulently racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic, but harbors bitter, violent malice towards seemingly all living things nevertheless; a nihilistic capitalist to the extreme, his consumption of invaluable life is no different to him from that of products.

Qualifications

  • He possibly decapitates Evelyn's neighbor, outright telling a horrified Evelyn that the woman's head was in his freezer. She does not seem to hear this, however.
  • He murders someone offscreen as evidenced by the bloodstained clothes he takes to his dry cleaners, then threatens to kill a Chinese woman who works there for yipping at him.
  • Immediately after giving a beggar a (rather backhanded and abusive) pep talk, he mutilates and blinds said beggar by slowly gouging out his eyes with a serrated blade, stabbing him in the stomach and hands, and bisecting his nose before breaking the front legs of his dog and spitefully tossing a quarter onto his mangled face while calling him a "crazy fucking n*gger", laughing at their pain—the reason for this senseless cruelty most likely being a simple sadistic impulse.
    • When he re-encounters the same beggar and dog near the end of the novel, who are suffering more than ever (although the former holds a sign falsely claiming to be a Vietnam veteran for sympathy), Patrick simply looks down on them with disgust and deems them not worth his time.
  • He casually mentions having bought a small dog and torturing it to death not even a week after.
  • He attempts to strangle Luis Carruthers to death with the sadistic intent to boast his affair with Luis's girlfriend Courtney as he dies, desisting only out of revulsion for Luis misinterpreting his assault as homosexual contact. He later pulls a knife on Luis to keep him away, and also abuses and threatens him for his infatuation (such as by calling him a "faggot").
    • This perhaps goes to show that Patrick acts primarily on impulse; being an almost-textbook psychopath, he may lose interest if his blood-lusting impulse is deadened for any reason.
  • He converses with an "old queer" about his Shar Pei, only to disembowel the dog, leaving it to convulse and bleed out before stabbing its owner in the face and head at random, slashing his throat open, and shooting him twice in the face with a suppressed gun to ensure his death.
  • He invites the prostitutes Sabrina and Christie to his apartment, then post-coitus intends to cause them both to sob and bleed, cause the former a limp, and give the latter deep scratches across her buttocks with a coat hanger and a "terrible black eye". He most likely indeed did this, as they would then go see a doctor and a lawyer for whatever he did to them.
  • He slits the throat of a random Asian delivery boy who was passing by, simply because Patrick had erroneously heard that the Japanese have bought the Empire State Building and Nell's—only to find that his victim wasn't even Japanese; he was Chinese. Patrick only reacts to this with irritation.
  • He nonchalantly murders Paul Owen by mangling his face with an axe, leaving him to die slowly within five minutes, and leaves his corpse in an abandoned building—presumably over a Fisher account if not simply from impulse.
  • While talking to a prostitute, he claims to have beaten up a lost young girl who was asking people on the street for money (and allegedly also had a child), because "she was too ugly to rape". It is unknown if this actually happened, but it is a rather revolting thing to say nevertheless.
  • He murders numerous women, usually by luring dates or prostitutes to his apartment before inflicting the most brutal conceivable tortures and rapes upon them—which only worsen as the novel progresses. In addition to this, he cannibalizes some of his victims and sexually violates or mutilates their corpses. Examples of these atrocities include:
    1. knocking out Bethany in his apartment (right after having lunch with her; she isn't a prostitute, but an old friend/colleague of Patrick) with four blows to her head from his nail gun, nailing her fingers to the floor while spraying Mace into her eyes, mouth, and nostrils before horribly mangling her hands with said nail gun, calling her a "fucking cunt" and telling her that no-one will care to help her, chewing the flesh off the fingers that weren't nailed, spraying Mace onto her several more times, filming all of what follows, mutilating her breasts with scissors, cutting off her tongue, then raping her mouth twice while she's agonized and barely conscious;
    2. slashing at Elizabeth's neck with a butcher knife and cutting her jugular, punching her in the stomach, stabbing her multiple times, then raping her bleeding and choking face as she convulses and soon dies;
    3. bounding and gagging Christie, clipping battery-hooked jumper cables to her breasts, having dropped lit matches onto her stomach with the help of Elizabeth (before he betrayed her and bit off one of her nipples), mashing up her breasts with a pair of pliers, killing her, then (in an unclear order) electrocuting her to the point that her breasts explode and her hands eventually swell to the size of footballs, leaving a black pit where her genitals were, gouging out her eyes, decapitating her, and cutting up her body;
    4. gnawing on Tiffany's genitals while performing cunnilingus, disfiguring them, blinding both her and Torri with Mace before knocking them out with the butt of his nail gun, bounding them, cutting Torri's lips off with nail scissors while she is unconscious, forcing Tiffany to watch as he skins Torri's legs and stomach alive with a steak knife and films this and the following events, and so on—eventually inflicting an even worse fate upon Tiffany, which ends with him ripping her stomach open with his bare hands in the dark before she dies. The rest of her torture probably needs not be described here.
  • He drowns a puppy he had bought Evelyn before wrapping it in one of her sweaters and throwing it into their freezer, for no apparent reason.
    • Around that time, he claims to find himself standing over his and Evelyn's bed in the hours before dawn with an icepick gripped in his fist as she sleeps, waiting for Evelyn to open her eyes, implicating he'd have no qualms with murdering her as well. He most likely doesn't due to her wealth and status.
  • When at a zoo, upon seeing the plaque of the seal exhibit warn that coins may lodge in the animals' stomachs and cause ulcers, infections, and death, Patrick spitefully tosses a handful of change into the seals' tank—reasoning that the audience's enjoyment of them bothers him.
  • He stealthily stabs a five-year-old child in the throat at said zoo, then poses as a doctor when the bleeding and choking child's mother cries out for help, only to ensure her son's slow death via inaction (as he suppresses the urge to murder his mother as well, solely due to being surrounded by a crowd). He does this simply to see whether he would enjoy it, disappointed due to his conclusion that doing so spreads less suffering and severs less connections than would the death of a person with a full history, who would have more to lose. In essence, child murder isn't evil enough for him.
  • Upon trapping a giant rat he finds in his bathroom, he contemplates how he would torture girls with it; he eventually does so while murdering an unnamed prostitute: first he forces her to watch footage of the previous torture that he filmed (in which the victim "[bleeds] from every possible orifice") while devouring another dead girl's brain right before her eyes, then he drills into the living victim's mouth to turn it into a toothless, gaping hole, then forces a Habitrail tube into her Brie-filled genitals (going as far as to pour acid all over them to loosen the orifice), then forces presumably said rat (which he forced to cannibalize another rat he bought and purposefully starved) into her vaginal tract through the Habitrail tube, trapping it there, to have it devour her from the inside. Afterwards, he bisects the girl, messily pulls her legs off while she's still conscious, forces a knife up her nose and out of her forehead, hacks her chinbone, rapes her mutilated mouth (of which there is only half left) thrice, gouges her eyes out with his fingers even as she's dead, stomps the rat to death after it emerges from within her corpse, and finally cooks the girl's femur and left jawbone.
  • Eventually his own bedroom is ridden with gore. He devours the raw intestines of one of his victims (presumably that whom he tortured with the rat) and grinds her bones, fat, and flesh into patties as his sanity further deteriorates, reassuring himself that "this thing, this girl, this meat, is nothing, is shit" once the iniquity of his behavior occurs to him.
  • He seemingly snaps and goes on a slaughter spree, beginning by shooting a street saxophonist in the face with a .357 Magnum. To flee from a squad car that happens to be present, he enters a cab and, frustrated, shoots the driver in the face as well when he's too terrified to drive and begging to be spared, hijacking the vehicle. He crashes into a Korean delicatessen, injuring a cashier, then kills a policeman by shooting him in the face, and proceeds to shoot randomly at backup until he hits the gas tank of one of their cars and causes the vehicle to explode, killing several policemen. As he scrambles back home, he enters the wrong apartment, shooting the night watchman and then the janitor out of frustration.
  • He spends an entire chapter finally engaging in introspection during his date with Jean, showing awareness of his heartlessness and admitting his limitless malice, yet in spite of this does not decide to change in the slightest; he appears to discover the closest thing to an epiphany he ever has and simply ignores it, continuing to be a monster with total indifference.
  • He has given Jeanette a black eye, and claims to have had five children aborted—two he aborted himself.
  • He treats Evelyn and Jean, his own fiancé and secretary respectively, horribly—despite seeing Jean as the only "real" person in his life; for instance, he once covers a urinal cake in chocolate and spitefully deceives Evelyn into eating it, then eventually coldly dumps her in public before FedExing her a box of flies with a note telling her to "[go] on a fucking diet" (despite not really needing one), and gives Jean nothing much more than orders as one would to a servant while disregarding her feelings for him. Furthermore, he has an affair with Courtney, one of Evelyn's closest friends, in which he beats her on one occasion. This further proves that Patrick is incapable of (or unwilling to provide) affection.
  • He has disturbing, murderous/torturous thoughts and fantasies throughout the entire novel even when not acting upon them, and oftentimes persecutes, bullies, or abuses black men, gay men, Jews, women, vagrants, or other such groups—usually with slurs and condescension, or even petty acts such as dangling a dollar in front of a vagrant's face only to retract it.
    • It may be worth noting, however, that such prejudiced and classist acts are common within his circle—yet none of his fellow yuppies go as far as to lull them with pep talks before doing so, let alone mutilate or murder them. Furthermore, while said yuppies are overtly chauvinistic, Patrick goes greater lengths to feign egalitarianism and political concern for the sake of his public image of modernity—perhaps also to appear more "with-it" than his peers—yet ironically has committed the most grievous hate crimes (and has once screamed "Fuck yourself you retarded cocksucking kike" at a Jewish delicatessen manager despite his apparent offense to anti-Semitic remarks), proving himself to be the most sycophantic of his group whereas the others are at least upfront in their beliefs.
  • While he has plenty of comedic moments throughout the novel, they're quite blackened in their humor and do not at all detract from his heinousness—e.g. his completely arbitrary and oftentimes grotesque insults or threats towards those he is talking to that go unnoticed, his tendency to blurt out blatant racial/sexual slurs (especially when angered), or him ecstatically running up and down Broadway while stuffing his mouth with cereal and "screeching like a banshee" immediately after brutally murdering an innocent elderly man and his dog. His psychotic delusions are also ridiculous, but only emphasize the character's disturbed nature if anything, in addition to being out of his control.
  • A possible factor in Patrick's evil is the dehumanization of both him and those around him in his apathetic and materialistic environment, which apparently causes him to consider humans as fungible as the countless products he consumes; however, this would not expiate nor even explain his absurd degrees of unwarranted brutality towards both other human beings and defenseless animals in the slightest, especially seeing as he chooses to remain in such a corrupt setting. Given that the novel is essentially a scathing commentary on '80s yuppie culture, he is likely written to be as violent as possible both to denote his moral (and mental) degradation as a consequence of his gray, lifeless world and to spite said culture by depicting a fictitious member thereof to be as horrible as possible, while those he surrounds himself with are similarly indifferent and devoid of empathy. It is even implicated that Paul Owen's murder is being covered up if Mrs. Wolfe's (his apartment's real estate agent) ominous warning to Patrick is anything to go by: "Don't make any trouble." It could therefore be inferred from this that Harold Carnes, Patrick's attorney who passes his confession off as a joke, could be in on it as well for the sake of PR—and if not that, Carnes's alleged dinners with Owen are just as likely to be the result of the former confusing another yuppie for him, which is a recurring mistake made by nearly every character. Patrick is defeated by his own wealth, position, and success that he prides himself on, and the apathy of his world.
    • Furthermore, while there is minor ambiguity presented as to whether all of the depicted atrocities were actually committed and not mere figments of his psychotic episodes or otherwise unreliable narration, at least some of his crimes can be confirmed to have some basis in reality given their visible consequences—particularly his murders of Evelyn's neighbor (whom she notices has gone missing), Paul Owen (whose apartment keys Patrick couldn't have acquired if he were alive, plus the aforementioned points regarding Wolfe and Carnes), and the taxi driver whose friend confronts and mugs Patrick for said murder near the end of the novel; his mental deterioration is, if anything, both a red herring from these atrocities and a consequence of his self-imposed hell wherein, despite his actions, he is still not distinguished from his peers. In addition to this, his overwhelming amount of negative traits and utter lack of redeeming qualities render him exceedingly qualified for this wiki.

Trivia

  • In the film adaptation, the reason Patrick spares Jean's life is apparently more altruistic, and many of his crimes are either extremely toned down (yet still heinous) or omitted; therefore, only the novel version of Patrick qualifies as Pure Evil.
    • He also has a theatrical adaptation, but whether that qualifies is yet to be determined (and unlikely).

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