Psychological Theory of Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock

An analysis of the character Norman Bates from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho will be the focus of this article. The analysis depict Norman Bates as a serial murderer, and this paper will be studying the audience’s view of the film, as well as his diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder (DID), in light of this depiction. The cinematic study of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the medical or psychiatric diagnostic of Norman Bates would be interesting to compare so that the reader might see a serial murderer from a different perspective in this essay. Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, was a bold picture that he made. Not only was his perspective as a director formidable, but it has been instructive for any aspiring filmmaker as well. Hitchcock films are made in a way that allows the character to be shown in a good light. There is an instant emotional connection and compassion among the members of the audience. This director’s movies are full of unexpected twists that keep the audience wondering and expectant on their seats throughout the whole film.

Alfred Hitchcock directed the 1960 film Psycho, which is considered a masterpiece of the horror genre. It was widely regarded as the scariest film of its day, causing shock, revulsion, and mental anguish among its target viewers. Young Marion Crane steals $40,000.00 from her employer in the movie (Hitchcock, 1960). Her encounter with Norman Bates, the manager of a nearby hotel, takes a surprising turn as the dialogue between them shifts from friendly to sleazy. When it comes to Norman Bates, it is clear that his mother has a lot of control over him. When Marion Crane suggests that he send his mother to a mental facility, he seems to change his tune toward her. This paper aims at contrasting the two approaches adopted by Alfred Hitchcock’s to explain the different ways used to analyze serial murderers.

A cinematic study of Psycho film draws a quick conclusion that Norman’s behavioral portrayal was solely attributed to his mother’s influence. A ‘terrible mama’s boy’ is how Genter (2010) defines Norman Bates in his cinematic study of the character in an attempt to conceal the actual nature of Norman’s attachment to his mother. Following Marion Crane’s “uncomfortable” chats concerning Bates’ mother, Norman would be the center of the film study. A dissociative identity disorder victim like Norman’s character, on the other hand, seems to be the case in the film. When a person is exposed to trauma, they acquire DID, according to Bressert (2019). As shown in the film, Norman’s father’s death and his mother’s murder were devastating events in his life. He becomes the film’s protagonist because of this, making him look to be an unhinged psychopath.

Norman Bates has largely focused on the concept of unstoppable killing of victims due to scary shower scenes. In the film’s closing moments, Hitchcock wants the audience to comprehend why Bates behaves the way he does. The audience is left with a bad impression of Norman after seeing the finale of the film, which features a scary shower scene. Instead of being referred to as a serial murderer, the audience may easily conclude that Norman is the villain in the film. Although serial murderers are recognized to be evil individuals who would are unstoppable in killing their victims, there is a deeper psychological understanding of serial killers’ personalities. Most serial murderers depict their victims as helpless. When Marion Crane is vulnerable in the shower, Norman seems to be motivated by his infamous goal. In light of Marion’s being alone and unable to protect herself, he looks sure of murdering her. According to Ducharme (2017), many serial murderers’ motives may be traced back to their victims’ susceptibility and availability. The vulnerability of killing seen in Marion Crane’s character evidenced in the shower drives Norman Bates’ actions in the film Psycho, based on this psychological component.

On the other hand, the psychological analysis depicted from psycho concept from Norman Bates yielded a variety of results. Viewers are unable to get an understanding of serial murderers’ true motives via film analysis. Psychological analysis of Norman Bates, on the other hand, helps us comprehend how he has a mental illness (Mayoclinic, 2019). Serial murderers’ real-life reasons may be discovered by studying Bates’ character’s psychological traits, as well. Psychological theories are better frameworks for comprehending serial murderers than film reviews. Analysis of Hitchcock’s Psycho would place Bates’ persona behind his mother, making it impossible to discern what drives him to murder Marion. The most significant way to understand Norman Bates, the central character of Psycho, is via a psychological interpretation rather than a traditional cinematic study.

The cinematic study of Psycho depicts Hitchcock’s work as a fictitious pictorial representation of reality. Film analysis, on the other hand, does not capture the reality of the world. An in-depth study of Norman Bates’ character helps us grasp serial murderers’ motivations more clearly. Schmidt (2005) feels the character development of Norman Bates was influenced by the real-life Wisconsin sociopath Ed Gein. In particular, a psychological comparison of character assessment succeeds in tying movie characters to real-life occurrences; this is noteworthy. For serial murderers, comparison helps us better understand their motivations and actions ( FBI Gov’s, 2019). Since it seems to be focused on the film, it does not seem to convey serial killing in its most actual form. Psychology thus, plays a significant role to educate the audience more about underlying factors that contribute to DID.

In conclusion, when dissociative identity disorder (first named multiple personality disorder) was first identified, it was assumed to be a complicated psychiatric illness that was likely triggered by numerous circumstances, including severe childhood abuse. As a result of dissociation, a person’s ideas, memories, emotions, behaviors, and sense of identity are all disconnected from one another. People with dissociative identity disorder are considered to be affected by a variety of causes, including trauma. There is a theory that dissociation is a coping technique for those who are unable to deal with violent, traumatizing, and unpleasant experiences in their lives. Norman shows all of the symptoms connected with this diagnosis, and he’s virtually a perfect representation of what it means to have this condition. When Norman was a youngster, his mother’s abuse caused him to acquire these symptoms, which ultimately led to the development of this illness. In Norman’s case, according to a medical explanation of the disease, the killings are a way for him to deal with the agony he feels whenever he remembers his mother’s actions and words.


Bressert, S. (2019). Dissociative Identity Disorder. Psych Central. Web.

Ducharme, E. L. (2017). Best practices in working with complex trauma and dissociative identity disorder. Practice Innovations, 2(3), 150–161. Web.

FBI Gov (2019). Serial murder: Multi-disciplinary perspectives for investigators. Web.

Genter, R. (2010). “We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes”: Alfred Hitchcock, American Psychoanalysis, and the construction of the cold war psychopath. Canadian Review of American Studies, 40(2), 133. Web.

Hitchcock, A. (Director & Producer). (1960). Psycho [Motion Picture]. United States: Universal Studios

Mayoclinic (2019). Dissociative disorders. Web.

Schmidt, D. (2005). Natural born celebrities: Serial killers in American culture. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press

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PsychologyWriting. "Psychological Theory of Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock." September 15, 2023.