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Psycho: Defense for Norman Bates

Norman Bates, the main character of the famous Hitchcockian film "Psycho", is condemned by the audience as a criminal, a bloodthirsty murderer. However, from the legal point of view, one can hardly be certain in his liability for the crimes committed.

Norman Bates is beyond a doubt a murderer. At the same time, in order to state definitely whether he is guilty in the crimes he has committed or not, it is necessary to understand his psychological state and assess his mental state. On analyzing his case, it is possible to estimate that the court rule concerning the punishment of Norman Bates should be made not only on the ground of objective facts and evidences collected in the course of the investigation but also on the ground of the psychiatrist’s conclusion defining his mental health and, therefore, his legal liability.

As the matter of fact, Norman Bates is not fully responsible for his actions because the psychiatric examination of the accused has revealed the fact that he suffers from serious mental disorders, including schizophrenia and split personality. In actuality, these mental health disorders make Norman Bates not liable to the imprisonment. Instead, he should be isolated from the society and undergo the psychiatric treatment.

In fact, this is the only logical rule the court should take in relation to Norman Bates because his imprisonment will be not only unfair but also questionable from the legal point of view. Obviously, Norman Bates did commit the murders. It was him, who killed Marion and Milton Arbogast. Normally, people who commit such crimes should be sent to prison but this is not the case of Norman Bates because he suffers from mental health disorders which make him not liable to legal prosecution applicable to absolutely sane offenders. Instead, Norman Bates suffers from schizophrenia and split personality. The latter means that Norman was in a condition in which displayed multiple distinct identities or personalities, each with its pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. To put it more precisely, his split personality was torn between his own personality of Norman Bates and that of his mother.

Obviously, the death of his mother affected consistently his mental health. After her death, Norman has started to suffer from split personality and his own identity was replaced occasionally by that of his mother. He sincerely believed and pretended to be his mother. He could not control his actions as Norman Bates because he did not feel and he actually was not Norman when his mother’s identity dominated his mind and, thus, controlled his actions.

Consequently, Norman Bates is not a criminal but he is a person who needs professional health care assistance. Norman Bates is conscious of the terrible effects of his crime and he does understand what the crime is but he is capable to understand it as long as he perceives himself as Norman Bates. As soon as his personality splits and he identifies himself with his mother he goes out of control of his true personality. Therefore, he cannot be responsible for his actions because he is a mentally ill person. At the same time, his mental health disorder is very serious and makes him socially dangerous. This is why the imprisonment of Norman Bates would be not only unjust but also illegal. Instead, the only plausible court rule that can secure the public from inadequate and dangerous behavior of Norman Bates and, simultaneously, can cure him from his mental health problems is sending him to hospital, where he will be treated being under control of the personnel of the hospital.

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  1. Im no doctor or psychiatrist, but my take on it was that Norman Bates already mentally disturbed had these urges to kill. However after killing his mother, the regret and guilt drove Norman to create the personality of his mother. If Norman could re-create his mothers personality in his mind. Keep her corpse, dress like her. Then in Normans mind his mother never really died, thus eliminating the murder ever taking place well in his mind anyways.

    This new personality also allowed Norman to continue like normal, until an urge to kill came and the personality of mother came in and would take over. If the personality of mother was doing the killing. Norman in his mind isn’t doing the killing, so for Norman there is no guilt in the acts of killing that he performs.

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