41. Psycho

Norman Bates was a fictional character created by writer Robert Bloch, as the central character in his novel Psycho. It was later filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960.

Both the novel and its film adaptation by Hitchcock explain a severe emotional abuse of Norman Bates. He suffers in the hands of his mother Norma who preaches him that sex is evil and that all women are wicked! The mother and son live together, in an unhealthy atmosphere of mutual emotional dependence.

When Norma takes a lover, Norman becomes insanely jealous and kills them both! He preserves his mother’s corpse in his home. Troubled by the pangs of guilt, he develops dissociative personality disorders.

Bloch sums up Norman Bates’ multiple personalities thus: Norman Bates is a vulnerable child dependent on his mother; Norma Bates his possessive mother and Normal Bates-the adult who lives his day to day life!

Norman Bates’ character is based on Edward Theodore Gein (1906-1984)
-an American murderer and a grave robber. Heinous crimes committed by him around his hometown Plainfield, Wisconsin, have made him notorious world wide!

When the authorities discovered the gruesome relics and trophies he had made out of the skin and bones of his victims and the bodies dug out of graves, the whole world was shocked!

Like Norman Bates, Ed Gein had an unhappy childhood. His father George Gein was an unemployed alcoholic who abused both his sons, Henry George Gein and Edward Gein.

Mother Augusta Gein prevented the outsiders from influencing her sons. She taught them that drinking was evil and all women are the wicked instruments of The Devil himself!

After the death of his father and elder brother, Ed Gein lived with his mother, doing odd jobs for a living. When his mother too died in December 1945, Ed Gein lost his only friend and became all alone in the world.

Ho boarded up all the rooms in his house  and started living in a small room next to his kitchen. He became interested in Death-cult magazines and adventure stories.

In November 1957, a hardware store owner Bernice Worden’s disappearance was linked to Ed. The ensuing search by the authorities brought to light, the real nature of the seemingly mild mannered Ed!

Gein does not fit in the traditional definition or description of a serial killer. Nevertheless his real life case has influenced the creation of several fictional serial killers including Norman Bates from Psycho, Jame Gumb from The Silence of the Lambs and The Leather Face from Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Visalakshi Ramani


2 Responses to 41. Psycho

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