Analysis Of Norman Bates – Psycho Novel And Movie

Background of Norman Bates

The character Norman Bates is fictional, and created by the Robert Bloch in the novel Psycho, published in 1959. This character was also shown in the American psychological thriller that was produced by Alfred Hitchock. Norman Bates has been portrayed as a quiet, smart, handsome, funny, and shy young man, who shares an intensely warm relationship with his mother, Norma Bates. Norman is depicted as a young man who runs a small-off motel in Fairvale, California. The prequel of the movie, titled ‘Psycho IV: The Beginning’ provides an explanation that Norman suffered severe emotional neglect and abuse in his childhood (Leistedt&Linkowski, 2014). His mother, Norma Bates was the perpetrator, who preached to him the fact that all kinds of sexual relationships were sinful and illicit and all women (except his mother) were promiscuous and engaged in immoral sexual acts for money.

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At the age of six years, Norman’s father had died, thereby leaving him in the care Norma. Norma raised her son with cruelty and forbade him to have any life away from her. The novel and the prequel also suggested presence of an incestuous relationship between the two. He was also made to dress up in girl’s clothes as a punishment. The two used to live in the isolation at a large house, with the assumption that there was no one else around. Upon reaching adolescence, Norman’s mother meets Joe Considine, and plans to get married to him.

The fact that Norma has abandoned her son for her fiancé,drives Norman with jealousy and he poisons their ice tea with strychnine, a highly toxic pesticide. He stages it in the form of a murder-suicide and makes it appear that his mother had killed her fiancé, and committed suicide later on. This is followed by a brief period of hospitalisation, since he fails to bear the loss of his beloved mother. The following pages suggest development of certain traits in Norman that pertain to dissociative personality disorder that is characterised by presence of two or more relatively enduring and distinct personalities (Vermetten& Spiegel, 2014). This makes him assume the personality of his mother, which is triggered by his actions of stealing and mummifying her corpse in the fruit cellar. He also speaks to it as if Norma is still alive. He developsa trait of speaking in her voice and begins to frequently dress himself in her clothes (Grimes, 2018).

The dissociative personality disorder helps him escape the awareness and guilt of her murder. The personality of Norma is portrayed by the disorder as cruel and possessive who kills all women, whom Norman is attracted to. This personality also dominates and belittles him. On the other hand, the personality of Norman is depicted as a child dependent on Norma. This split personality takes over him at times, and makes him dress in Norma’s clothes and wig, followed by subsequent murdering of two women who try attempts at seducing Norman during their stay at the motel (Greven, 2014). Thus, the occasional lapsing into his mother’s personality is triggered by an awakening of his sexual urge.

Development of Dissociative Personality Disorder

This section analyses the character of Norman Bates using the theory of Sigmund Freud. This theorist explains about three elements of the subconscious mind which are Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego  as well as interrelationship between them. The animalistic impulses of a person are attributed to Id which is considered to be chaotic.  It is the outcome of instant gratification and pleasure principle.  It is driven by instinct is for self-preservation. Ego differs from Id and is the personality a person shows to others based on the reality formula. On the other hand the superego refers to the conscience and the moral standards as well as to the beliefs and ideas of what is right and wrong. The superego is based on things instilled in our mind by our parents or other figures with high authority. In the iceberg like mind the upper layer comprise of the conscious and the lower layer comprise of unconscious mind.   The theory of Freud can be summarised as the demand of gratification by Id, responding to the reality by Ego and the third part of the subconscious mind is superego that refers to moral code and which is dictated by the societal demands (Freud 2018).

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 The novel  psycho is parallel to psycho analysis as there are limited parts that needs to be clubbed together to perceive the coherent whole.  According to Freud theory sexuality and repressed memory are correlated. It is evident from the primal scene where the child represses the memory of his patents having sex. Norman did murder his mother and her lover after watching them in bed together as per novel.  It can be explained by Freud theory of human tendency to repeat a traumatic event to relive again and again in dreams/memory or in action. According to this theory, a person creates a situation where a traumatic event is highly likely to recur. The same is evident from several other murders that he committed in movies/prequel (Raj 2017).   He killed her lover for his sexual desire towards his mother.  It is the outcome of the repressed memory that later expressed as neurotic form from subconscious mind.  A successfully integrated personality is under control of ego (Spolander 2018), which was not found in Norman.  

Norman in movie discusses with Marion in parlour about tyrannical grip of his mother and his willingness to escape.  As per Freud’s psychoanalysis approach this helplessness of Norman can be concluded as failure of self mastery (Raj 2017).  Norman developing masculine and sexual feelings towards Marion is also explained by the Freudian concept of sexual dysfunction associated with repetition-compulsion. The alter ego in Norman about his mother is unhappy regrading the prospective relationship between mother and son being disturbed by young attractive women. Norman then kills Crane dressing himself like his mother. It can be interpreted in Freudian’s concept that Norman’s Id has turned to be central of the Pscyhe. It acts as force that drives the mother half of Norman to murder.  The power of repressed is manifested as the compulsion to repeat (Bassil-Morozow 2016).   Norman had week superego as his father was absent and he cannot internalise his moral standards. He instilled in his mind his mother’s superego which resulted in his indentify disorder.

Freudian view of Norman Bates

It can be concluded that in case of Norman, childhood memories are repressed by conscious mind.  And the subconscious mind retains the destructive memories which is the source of his split personality in Freudian concept.  

There are many aspects of Norman’s personality that can be suitably explained by Carl Jung’s analytical psychology. This includes the development of Norman’s psychology as well as the development of dissociative personality disorder. The key idea in Carl Jung’s analytical psychology is the psyche. One refers psyche to be an individual’s inner realm of personality balancing the outer reality. Jung had the belief that a person’s inner realm of personality has the potential to influence the individual’s actual reality. Further, he believed that what an individual perceives is guided by who they think themselves to be. Moving on with the concept of psyche, Jung opined that psyche is made up of a number of systems that are interconnected with each other. Jung further puts focus on the significance of the fact that psyche is a self-regulating system that can be broken down into different components. These are the ego; the personal consciousness, complexes, the collective unconsciousness, the self, persona, shadow, anima and animus and individuation. As per the theorist, the ego is the representation of the conscious mind that comprises of the memories, emotions and thoughts that an individual is aware of. In this regard it is to be mentioned that the ego leads to feelings of continuity and identity.

As defined by Jung, the ego is the centre of the field of consciousness which is an integral part of the psyche responsible for our identity and existence. The ego is to be considered as only a mere part of the self. The personal unconscious is a result of the interaction between the collective unconscious and one’s personal growth. Complexes are the themed organizations in the unconscious mind related to emotions, perceptions, memories, and wishes. In relation to collective unconsciousness, it was said that incidents in our lives are influenced by archetypes in human’s lives. Persona is the personality’s trait arising from adaptation and changes. The traits that are ignored or disliked are called as the Shadow. Individuation is the quest for uniqueness that the human psyche is found to undertake (Gross 2015).

The personality of Norman Bates can be accurately described with the help of Jungian theory of personality. Norman is found to be having an alter ego. At times he is a mild manner motel operator while at the other time he is found to be turning into his mother with the motive of murdering people. Psychoanalytic approach would help in understanding how the dual personality was developed. The personality of Norman has been linked to violent aggression and obvious criminal behavior. There are significant differences in his primary personality and secondary psychopath.  The character displays strong secondary psychopath as a change in role play. In relation to the theory of Jung it can be stated that the human mind are the storehouse of imprinted characteristics that are the result of evolution. These stem from the ancestral past. Collective unconsciousness of Norman can be linked with the separate systems of personality collectively influencing the individual’s personality.   

Jungian view of Norman Bates

The theories of Karl Jung and Sigmund Freud define the world of psychology. The theories of psychology propagated by both of them have a great impact on the perception of the human beings in the context of their human mind. In the context of the above analysis regarding the chosen character Norman Bates from the 1959 novel written by Robert Bloch in his novel named ‘Psycho’. Some of the underlying similarities of both the chosen theories in the context of the overview of the psychological nature of the Norman Bates include the notion of several types of mental disorders of human life in case of extreme circumstances. The theories of Freud and Jung relied on the role of unconsciousness which plays a very essential role in the lives of an individual (Freud, 2017). According to their theories, there lie various factors in the unconsciousness that tends to impact the conscious personalities of an individual. Their theories state the contents how people can get conscious by dream analysis. Furthermore, both of the psychological theory postulated the theory of complex which states the emotional charges individuals tend to carry in their subconscious or unconscious minds and which revolves around certain images or idea in their mind. Both of their theories shares similarity in the context of the genesis of the dreams, the structure of the psyche of the individual and the interpretation of the content of an individual’s dream to a large extent. Both of the theories agreed on one point that dreams are the thoughts, desires and harbour feelings that are sometimes painful, unacceptable to the state of conscious awareness (Schultz & Schultz, 2016). In the context of the characteristics of Norman, these theories can be explained well. The theory classifies how Norman formed dissociative identity disorder and his two split personalities which were unacceptable to Norman in his conscious state of mind. Norman developed two characters in his dream; a child who was dependent on his mother and ‘norma’; a lady with possessiveness who threatens to harm anyone in her existence. Norman developed illusion in his subconscious mind which enabled him to act both as a functional adult who is forbidden to have any friends, female interactions and his mother whenever the character ‘norma’; took over his mind completely.

In the theories of personality by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the context of sexuality differs widely. According to the concept of the Freud theory, sex is the one and only factors that guide and shapes the personality of an individual. In the context of the chosen character, the theory by Freud explained the norms of sexuality of Norman towards his mother when she initiated to marry Considine (Gross., 2015). The theory explains the nature of personality by the character which enabled him to murder both of them out of jealousy. By Freud’s theory, it was clear that sex was the basis of most of the emotional problems of an individual. On the other hand, the theories by Carl Jung were not occupied with the context of sexuality and its connection with human personalities. His theories lack to explain the incestuous characteristics of the chosen character since Jung was not disappointed with his sexual life like Fraud. According to his theoretical concepts, libido has a greater and a broader meaning than that of the definition given by Freud (Orrells, 2013). According to the theories by Jung, the context of libido lies in a generalized approach of psychic energy. Furthermore, the direction of the forces that tends to influence the personality of an individual was another of the dissimilarity among the two theories chosen. Freud in his theories stated that the personality of an individual is determined by the past experiences and the events he or she faces in their lives. This perception totally justifies the characteristics of the chosen character Norman, who developed his personality and behavioral disorders due to the past events with his mother. Jung, on the other hand, rejects the idea and stated in his theory that both the past and the future are important in carving n shaping an individual’s nature or personality. The theories of both Freud and Jung furthermore differ in the context of unconsciousness. According to Freud, unconsciousness was important since it is a deeply hidden part of the personality of an individual under the reality of conscious (Jung, 2014). Jung, on the other hand, placed more importance on the factor of the unconscious and defined it as the inherent experience of both the human and the pre-human species.


In the historical context, dreams consist of a certain type of cultural significance. These are the indications of pathologies and emotions that tend to impact the individuals’ conscious life either on a direct basis or by unconscious norms. The above paper illustrates the character of Norman Bates, a fictional character formed by Robert Bloch in his novel Psycho on the basis of the two famous psychological theories by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. The personality of Norman has been linked to violent aggression and obvious criminal behavior in the novel as well as his murderous split personality disorders. The theories in this context established important and beneficial understanding towards the context of Norman’s personality traits. The role of unconsciousness, the role of past events and sexuality in personality has been highlighted by the theories in the context of the personality of the character to develop a deeper understanding of the psychology and unique approaches towards human personalities.


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Spolander, R., 2018. The Fear of Mrs. Bates: The Use of Psychoanalytical Aspects, Anticipation and Retrospection in Robert Bloch’s Psycho.

Vermetten, E., & Spiegel, D. (2014). Trauma and dissociation: implications for borderline personality disorder. Current psychiatry reports, 16(2), 434.