Norman Bates

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Norman Bates is a character in both the Psycho and Bates Motel films, who was raised solely by his mother after murdering his father for abusing her. It quickly came to be noticed how strange the dynamic of the two play out in scenes. Norman Bates suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. His upbringing was in a dysfunctional household. When as a child his mother would purposefully sexually arouse him and then afterward embarrass him for indulging into the newly discovered sexual needs. This seemed to have created a severe neurosis for Norman as he lives his days in the show outwardly and consciously aware of his sexual need for his mother. The show and movie both give an example that the concepts of Freud’s theory are alive and are still being tested today by using its beliefs in a new way. What’s the correlation between Norman Bates and Sigmund Freud’s Oedipus Complex? How are the Freudian’s components important in modern day life?

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The reason I chose to write about Bates Motel and its comparison to Sigmund Freud’s theory is because it’s the current-day example of the Oedipus Complex.

The show symbolizes that the notion of Freud’s theory is still alive and strong today by utilizing its theories in a new way. The entire show is based around Freud’s remarks about suppressed impulses by individuals. The main issue in the show is the character fully capturing the universal impulses with no effort of suppression. Nonetheless, rather than recognizing his own inner mind of suppressed feelings, Norman fully acts on these internal impulses throughout the show. It takes on Freud’s theory of suppression ultimately creating within the show a highly toxic and drama-filled series due to this struggle and outward urge. Bates Motel is the representation of Freud’s Oedipus Complex but unsuppressed.

This essay reflects on a lot of the elements of Freudian theories in the 1960 movie Pyscho, and the 2013 Bates Motel show and how the ideas associated with psychoanalysis have an impact on the fate on the characters. As a psychology student I am curious and am always searching for answers. The Oedipus Complex both mesmerized me and creeped me out a bit. The Oedipus Complex refers to a child’s desire for sexual involvement with the parent of the opposite sex. It is mind boggling to me how Freud came up with a theory so bold? To imagine that there could be a bond so intense that a child could be entranced with his mother so deeply that it could produce a sexual attraction to them? The relationship between both parties have to be severely destructible to picture having that much emotional toll and baggage to engage in such a heinous activity such as being weirdly in love with your mother or father in a way that isn’t in the norm. The films capture the enamoration between Norma and Norman in a way that it is hard to stop watching. From beginning to end, you question the state of the relationship, and you realize that it is extremely unrealistic and super unhealthy, but you dose off into wondering the ties in your real life relationships.

Going back to Norman’s mental state, a neurosis is a mental disease that doesn’t involve rejection of reality, it is caused in part by successfully repressing unwanted thoughts or desires.

A deep understanding and estimating any character from the silver screen requires the knowledge of the vision of the creator of that character which, in our case is Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock consciously portrayed and implanted psychoanalytic theory though out the film not only through the personalities of the film’s characters but also through its mis-en-scene; in other words, this film possesses a strong connotation of psychoanalytic approach both thematically and visually. In her essay in European Journal of Psychology, Constantine Sandis (2009) states that psycho is the most Freudian of all Hitchcock’s film. In the same article she also mentions the self-assessment of Hitchcock. — Shonkhogrib

The main character, who is Norman Bates suffers from multiple personality disorder also known as D.I.D. A psychoanalytic approach can help us understand how he developed his dual personality. We start with the Freudian idea that all humans are bisexual, and heterosexuality is molded by society. With Bates, he was always confused with his sexual identity, and confused with the idea that he was half woman and half man. Hitchcock said that Bates’s feminine nature was a clue throughout the film. There are clips of Bates swinging his hips while climbing the stairs. Raymond Bellour pointed out the meaning to the name Bates, which was he who is neither woman nor man. As we see in the films that Bates didn’t have a chance to shape his sexual identity, as he was literally isolated from the rest of society.

All throughout the film Norman shows an openly and bold attachment to his mother, he reacts negatively towards Marion when she suggests that his mother may be better suited in a home. Shortly after this Marion goes back to her room, and there is a scene where she is getting undressed to have a shower. Norman moves a photo that he keeps in the office which reveals a hole in the wall where he can see her getting naked. Norman feels sexual attraction towards Marion that causes his mother side to take over and kill Marion. These acts have an open similarity to the Oedipus complex, Marion is seen by Norman on a conscious and un-conscious level as a threat towards his relationship with his mother. The conscious threat is of the idea that his mother was being taken away from him. The un-conscious threat is his sexual attraction towards Marion will get in the way of him relationship with his mother, and this causes Norman to turn to his mother side to kill Marion and, spoiler, literally any woman that gets his attention. Norma Bates, mother, can be viewed as a symbolic representation of the super-ego. Eventually, this led Norman to become the antagonist. In other words, killing his own mother is the most unbearable guilt, which is the reason of his split personalities. Norman Bates has the want to keep the illusion of his mother being alive and sacrifices his other half to her to erase the crime at least in his mind.

The theories of Freud have been found greatly connected with the analysis on how Norman Bates struggles to complete successfully the task confronted in the Phallic Stage of Super Ego. Freud’s theory can be shown through Norman by the relationship between him and his mother, the jealousy over his mother and the want to keep the illusion of his mother being alive.

Freud didn’t start the idea of conscious versus the unconscious mind, but he was in charge for making it popular because it was one of his major contributions to psychology. He firmly believed that behavior and personality were gained from the constant and unique interaction of conflicting psychological forces that worked at three different levels of awareness: the preconscious, the conscious, and the unconscious. He also thought that each of these parts of the mind played an important role in influencing behavior.

According to Freud’s theory, the ID is the unconscious, it acts according to the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification of needs. The ego is mostly conscious and partly unconscious, it’s the unrealistic part that mediates between the desires of ID and superego. Then there’s superego, which is the internalization of society’s limitations on behavior. Those are just the basic elements in Freud’s theory of the mind. Then you have the preconscious part which consists of anything that could possibly be brought inside of the conscious mind. The conscious mind contains the thoughts, memories, feelings, and wishes of what we are aware at any moment. In other words, this is the part of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally. Another part of this includes our memory, which isn’t always part of consciousness but can be retrieved easily at any time and brought into our awareness.

The unconscious mind is a bank of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the details of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict. As stated by Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behavior and experience, although we might sometimes be unaware of these influences. The unconscious can include repressed feelings, hidden memories, habits, thoughts, desires, and reactions.

Freud simplified the three levels of mind to the image of an iceberg. The top of the iceberg being so that you can see above the water represents the conscious mind. The middle part of the iceberg that is a little underneath the water but is still visible is the preconscious. The bulk of the iceberg that lies unseen beneath represents the unconscious. While his ideas were considered shocking at the time and continue to create debate and controversy even now, his work had a deep influence on several disciplines, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, and history.

His most important approach was the simple claim that majority of our behaviors and the way we act plays an important role by our unconsciousness and unpleasant desires. There were three things that were striking about Freud’s approach, the first being that there was only one basic drive, sex. Second claim was pointed to forgotten childhood experience as the crucial source of individual differences in character. Finally, was a notion that was a complicated systematic unconscious that was governed by the interaction between beliefs and desires in much of the same way that the unconscious mind was.

The term psychoanalysis is used to comment on too many aspects of Freud’s work and research, including Freudian therapy and the research methodology that he used to develop his theories. Freud mostly relied upon his observations and case studies of his patients when he formed his theory of personality development. Majority of the criticism on Freud and his work isn’t based on his studies, they are more targeted towards his lack of studying. Many modern scientists understand the fact that Freud didn’t have technology or reliable sources to go off from however, it doesn’t excuse the fact that he wasn’t thorough in his practices. Many of his principle notions like the Freudian Theory, still aren’t widely accepted although they have been discussed on multiple occasions.

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Norman Bates. (2020, Jun 17). Retrieved October 4, 2022 , from

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