Patrick Bateman seems to live off sex and drugs as much as he lives off expensive food, alcohol, and clothing. Early in the novel, his appetite for sex and drugs remains concurrent but distinct from his violent acts, however as things develop and his addictions grow beyond his control, the lines between sex and violence and between drugs and violence are blurred, and Bateman’s vices become intertwined in his torture and murder. This leads him down a path of even more perverted and reckless behavior.
Bateman is obsessed with sex. He is constantly sizing-up women and renting porn videos. Many of his victims early in the novel are prostitutes he hires (often two at a time) for aggressive, coercive sex. Early on, though, there is a distinction between sex and violence: he will have sex (albeit rough) with the women and then move into torturing and murdering them afterwards. This distinct progression from sex to violence changes as Bateman descends further into madness, and the lines between sex and violence blur. The sex itself becomes more violent, and Bateman begins incorporating his torture tactics into sex more and more. Furthermore, towards the end of the novel, Bateman seems to really get sexual satisfaction directly from killing; he often describes himself as having an erection while torturing women. He also begins to commit sex acts on dying women and dead bodies, for example in the chapter “Girl,” when Bateman tells the reader, “She only has half a mouth left, and I fuck it once, then twice, three times in all.” Instead of sex moving into torture and murder, the acts become one and the same.
Bateman and his friends are also heavy drug users. Early in the novel, Bateman’s cocaine use is largely social, but he later does more and more of the drug and his attitude towards it become increasingly aggressive. Bateman begins taking pills, too – downers like Halcion, Valium, and Xanax. At first, he claims to be taking them for his anxiety, but he eventually becomes so addicted that his “body has mutated and adapted to the drug.” As the variety, volume, and frequency of Bateman’s drug use increases, he begins to have less and less control over himself and his violence, leading to reckless behavior that would be highly uncharacteristic for the meticulous and image-conscious man we met at the beginning of the novel. For example, in the chapter “A Glimpse of a Thursday Afternoon,” Bateman has such a strong reaction to taking pills to fend off “a pounding migraine” and “a major-league anxiety attack” that he ends up stumbling through the streets and, ultimately, he kills people in public and without protecting his identity. This public killing leads to a massive police chase and also results in Bateman being recognized, threatened, and robbed. While at the beginning of the novel he was meticulous about who he would kill and how, he loses control and care for such considerations as he spirals further down into drugs.
Throughout the novel, Ellis shows that Bateman’s excessive behaviors with sex, drugs, and violence are uncontrollable. While he was, at the beginning of the novel, able to separate these behaviors and keep them, like all other aspects of his life, organized and compartmentalized, his vices and violence quickly begin to spill over and control all facets of his life. This is, perhaps, Ellis’s gesture to discuss morality in the novel. Even for a man as regimented and married to his set of values as Patrick Bateman, it is impossible to resist the overpowering nature of vice, and the reader follows Bateman as his vices lead him to lose track of even the things most important to him, such as appearance and order. In doing this, Ellis slightly humanizes Bateman; though his actions are horrific and inhuman, he is as vulnerable to vice as the rest of us.
Vice and Violence ThemeTracker
Vice and Violence Quotes in American Psycho
Idly, I wonder if Evelyn would ever sleep with another woman if I brought her over to the brownstone… If they’d let me direct, tell them what to do, position them under hot halogen lamps… But what if I forced her at gunpoint? Threatened to cut them both up, maybe, if they didn’t comply?
“My life is a living hell,” I mention off the cuff, while casually moving leeks around on my plate, which by the way is a porcelain triangle. “And there are many more people I, uh, want to… want to, well, I guess murder.” I say emphasizing this last word, staring straight into Armstrong’s face.
It hits me that we have something in common, that we share a bond… the audience disappears and the music slows down… everything getting clearer, my body alive and burning, on fire, and from nowhere a flash of white and blinding light envelopes me and I hear it, can actually feel, can even make out the letters of the message hovering above Bono’s head in orange wavy letters: “I … am … the … devil … and I am … just … like … you …”
…I’m sweaty and a pounding migraine thumps dull in my head and I’m experiencing a major-league anxiety attack, searching my pockets for Valium, Xanax, a leftover Halcion, anything… I’ve forgotten who I had lunch with earlier, and even more important, where.
My priorities before Christmas include the following: (1) to get an eight o’clock reservation on a Friday night at Dorsia with Courtney, (2) to get myself invited to the Trump Christmas Party aboard their yacht, (3) to find out as much as humanly possible about Paul Owen’s mysterious Fisher account, (4) to saw a hardbody’s head off and Federal Express it to Robin Barker – the dumb bastard – over at Solomon Brothers and (5) to apologize to Evelyn without making it look like an apology.
During this Christie has kept on a pair of thigh-high suede boots from Henri Bendel that I’ve made her wear.
Elizabeth, naked, running from the bedroom, blood already on her, is moving with difficulty as she screams out something garbled.
I feel empty, hardly here at all, but even the arrival of the police seems insufficient reason to move and I stand with the crowd outside the penguin habitat… until finally I’m walking down Fifth Avenue, surprised by how little blood has stained my jacket, and I stop in a bookstore and buy a book and then at a Dove Bar stand on the corner of Fifty-sixth Street, where I buy a Dove bar – a coconut one – and I imagine a hole, widening in the sun…
…I’m hoping she realizes that this would have happened to her no matter what… if she would simply have not taken a cab with me to the Upper West Side, this all would have happened anyway. I would have still found her. This is the way the earth works.
I can already tell that it’s going to be a characteristically useless, senseless death, but then I’m used to the horror. It seems distilled, even now it fails to upset or bother me.
It’s an isolation ward that serves only to expose my own severely impaired capacity to feel. I am at its center, out of season, and no one ever asks me for any identification. I suddenly imagine Evelyn’s skeleton, twisted and crumbling, and this fills me with glee.
…while I grind the bone and fat and flesh into patties, and though it does sporadically penetrate how unacceptable some of what I’m doing actually is, I just remind myself that this thing, this girl, this meat, is nothing, is shit, and along with a Xanax (which I’m now taking half-hourly) this thought momentarily calms me and then I’m humming…
…and the sun, a planet on fire, gradually rises over Manhattan, another sunrise, and soon the night turns into day so fast it’s like some kind of optical illusion…
“Please do not sit in the same row in court with Janet. When I look over toward you there she sits contemplating me with her mad eyes like a deranged seagull studying a clam… I can feel her spreading hot sauce on me already…”
…it did not occur to me, ever, that people were good or that a man was capable of change or that the world can be a better place through one’s taking pleasure in a feeling or a look or a gesture, of receiving another person’s love or kindness. Nothing was affirmative, the term “generosity of spirit” applied to nothing, was a cliché, was some kind of bad joke. Sex is mathematics. Individuality no longer an issue. What does intelligence signify? Define reason?... Evil is its only purpose. God is not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface was all that anyone found meaning in.. this was civilization as I saw it, colossal and jagged…
Jeannette should be okay – she has her whole life in front of her (that is, if she doesn’t run into me). Besides, this girl’s favorite movie is Pretty in Pink and she thinks Sting is cool, so what is happening to her is, like, not totally undeserved and one shouldn’t feel bad for her. This is no time for the innocent.
He stares at me as if we were both underwater and shouts back, very clearly over the din of the club, “Because … I had … dinner … with Paul Owen … in London … just ten days ago.”
“Well, though I know I should have done that instead of not doing it, I’m twenty-seven for Christ sakes and this is, uh, how life presents itself in a bar or in a club in New York, maybe anywhere, at the end of the century and how people, you know, me, behave, and this is what being Patrick means to me, I guess, so, well, yup, uh…” and this is followed by a sigh, then a slight shrug and another sigh, and above one of the doors covered by red velvet drapes in Harry’s is a sign and on the sign in letters that match the drapes’ color are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.