University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Norman Bates: Two Lives Within A Soul
Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development states that there is a structural model of the psyche, which splits the human identity into three instances of Ego, Superego, and ID. In Psychoanalytic Stage of Development, there are five stages: Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, and Genital. Even though Sigmund Freud never was writing about the movie _Psycho_, theories of Freud, have a great connection with the personality of Norman Bates. According to Oedipus complex, by Sigmund Freud, it introduced the term for a child’s libidinal attachment to the opposite sex parent, while experiencing jealousy and dislike of the same sex parent, as an expression of infantile sexuality. The character Norman Bates, in the movie _Psycho_, showed many signs of having an Oedipus complex when he murdered his mother and her lover.
In the relationship between Norman Bates and his mother, Bates’s mother ruled Norman’s life and controlled his actions. She can be perceived as a symbolic representation of the super-ego. Eventually, this led Norman to become the killer. Moreover, matricide 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 appeal in connection 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 demonstrated through Norman Bates in the movie _Psycho_ 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.
The storyline of this film involves a young woman named Marion Crane, who steals $ 40,000 from her boss in order to be able to start a new life with her lover Sam. On the way, she drives to her lover, a sudden rain leads her to check into the Bates Motel. A path between a motel and a house which symbolizes a path between the normal and the insane, and stairs lead to madness. She stays at the “Bates Motel”, which is run by Norman Bates and his mother, whom the audience knows through the movie only as a shadow on a window and her conversations with her son. Norman seems to be interested in the young woman. He offers her some sandwiches, milk for dinner and they have a talk in his parlor.
Norman Bates in _Psycho_ is very gentleman-like, even a little shy. However, who can imagine that a handsome young man turns into a creepy murderer. The essential reason leads to his insane is his attachment to his mother. Freud’s theories that can be applied on Norman Bates which is “Oedipus complex”. As Norman’s case, his Oedipus complex starts from the relationship between Norman Bates and his mother, Bates lives under the monarchy of his dominant mother, which forms his weakness in personality. His mother ruled Norman’s life and controlled his actions. Norman’s father died when he was 5 years old. For 27 years, he lives together with his mom. According to Dr. Simon, the Psychiatrist in the movie, he says: “His mother was a clinging, demanding woman… and for years the two of them lived as if there was no one else in the world” (Psycho).
Because of the domineering personally of his mother, Norman probably never socializes with other people. In The Oedipus Complex by Sigmund Freud, he writes: “In my experience, which is already extensive, the chief part in the metal lives of all the children who later become psychoneurotics is played by their parents” (The Oedipus 918). Mothers are often seen as encouraging the Oedipus complex through possessive behavior toward sons. In the conversation with Marion Crane, Norman tells her: “A boy’s best friend is his mother” (Psycho). By the way that Norman talks about his mother to Marion, the conclusion that can be come up with is Norman’s mother was controlling and domineering. The only woman Norman loves is his mother. As Norman grew up, he never had the chance to explore his sexual desires with other people.
Norman’s behavior can be further analyzed by using Freud’s theory of Infantile Sexuality. In his theory of Infantile Sexuality, Freud explains that a child has sexual instincts. Sigmund Freud’s theory describes the ideas and emotions which exist within the unconscious mind of children concerning their desire to possess their mothers sexually and eliminate the threat of their fathers who they competed with for the attention of their mothers. Norman’s problem is he is stuck in the Phallic Stage. The Phallic Stage is the third stage of child development, occurring between the year of 3 and 6. Between this time, Norman must have been abandoned by his mother.
Her lover must have been envied by Norman because all he wants is his mother’s love and attention. He felt that the other man was a threat to the relationship Norman and his mother had. After feeling abandoned by his mother, Norman’s Oedipus complex forced him to have a fight with his mother’s lover, which eventually made him to murder the two of them after finding them in bed together . For Freud, most repressed memories relate to sexuality. However, the killings don’t stop with the mother and her partner. Norman continues to kill women who come to the motel that he finds attractive.
Norman engages in a discussion with Marion in the parlor where he reveals a desire to escape from his mother, his private trap, but he cannot gain the will to do so. Norman was trapped with his mother and developed an abnormal relationship with her. He explained to Marion his loyalty to his mother, and he is a best boy that his mother can have. At this stage, Marion retires to her room and decides to return to her old life. In the parlor, Norman removes a painting to reveal a spy-hole, which shows that Normal develops sexual feelings towards Marion. When the mother notices that Norman is very interested in the young woman, she starts swearing and tries to dissuade her son from contacting with her. He even holds conversations with himself thinking he is speaking to his mother. When Marion goes to the bathroom at night and starts to take a shower, she gets murdered by the mother. His Oedipus complex, the desire for his mother, makes him think that his mother also desires him. And so this jealousy is the reason that he, a mother, becomes the killer.
After the murder of Marion, Norman disposes her in the swamp next to the house. Marion’s employer does not notify the police, but hires a private detective named Milton Arbogast instead. He finds the Bates Motel and wants to speak with Norman’s mother because of suspicious contradictions. The detective turns to Norman to replace Marion as its main focus in its subjective role. When trying to get in contact with Bates mother, he is murdered. After a few days, Sam and Marion’s sister start to search for the detective. Sam distracts Norman as Lila quietly walks up to the house to talk to Norman’s mother. In the search, she finds Bates’s mother has a large bedroom with fine furniture, mirrors, statuary, a closet which has clothes hung in there, a mattress with a deep curved. All the furniture is marvelous in place.
His mother’s bedroom looks the same as it did 27 years ago. He creates his mother’s room to be timeless because he loves his mother so much, and the guilt of killing possesses him, which leads him to have a desire to keep the illusion of his mother being alive. Besides that, his own room contains old toys, dolls, stuffed animals, which is a room of the 5 or 6 year-old boy. As Lila explores his childish bedroom, she discovers a gramophone recording of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. The title itself means Heroic. Children need hero. Norman’s personal growth can be linked with the Oedipus complex. During the development of the Oedipus complex, the child develops a strong sense and powerful urges for sexual possession of the opposite sex parent. The boy identifies with his father and the father becomes his role model. In Norman’s case, the absence of his father has resulted in an unresolved Oedipus complex which results in a weak Superego.
Finally, she finds in the fruit cellar Normans mother’s dead body which has been removed from its grave and preserved. At the end of the film, Dr. Simon, the Psychiatrist, reveals the cruel truth, Norman’s mother has been dead for ten years, and Norman has a split personalities, as he always plays both his own role and the role of the mother. The Psychiatrist explains: “When reality came too close, when danger or desire threatened that illusion, he dressed up, even to a cheap wig he bought. He would walk around the house, sit in her chair, speak in her voice. He was never all Norman, but he was often only Mother” (Psycho).
The feelings of guilt after the killing overwhelmed Norman so he tries to erase the truth from his mind to bring back his mother which could be interpreted with Freud’s theory of repression. Freud used the term to describe the way emotionally painful events could be blocked out of conscious awareness. For that he stole her body and used his knowledge of the taxidermy, which he had acquired through the stuffing of birds to preserve the body of his mother. He could bring her back only psychically and not mentally so he splits half of his mind, and begins to think for his mum, speaks with her voice and wears her clothes, a wig. Norman succeeded to convince himself entirely that his mother was still alive.
In the movie _Psycho_ by Alfred Hitchcock, he used psychological elements to create horror factor. And the movie is the interpretation of Freud’s The Oedipus Complex. Norman Bates turns into a psycho because of the love and desire that Norman has for his mother, the jealousy over his mother and the want to keep the illusion of his mother being alive. In the end, Norman develops a split-personality in which he struggles between himself and his imagined mother. He is entrapped by his suffocating past and is therefore taken over by his own vision of his mother. He can never be Norman again.