Lulu Rahman's Reviews > Psycho

Psycho by Robert Bloch
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May 21, 2011

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A classic thriller

Norman Bates loves his mother so much that he is willing to do anything for her, even murder. He lives with her in an old house up on the hill above the Bates Motel. But on one rainy night, their cozy existence is ripped apart by the arrival of one very mysterious and beautiful woman.

Mary Crane has just stolen $40,000 from her boss in order to pay her boyfriend’s debts. While on the run, she took shelter in Bates Motel. There, she met with the creepy hotel owner who suffers from an Oedipus Complex (a male child's unconscious desire for the exclusive love of his mother). To her, he is a meek character who is soft-spoken and has an ailing mother. Little did she know that Bates Motel will be her last destination, the place where she is stabbed to death in the shower by a seemingly crazy old woman.

This novel is inspired by a notorious serial killer Ed Gein and is a fascinating portrait of madness. Its main protagonist, Norman Bates, leads a dual life as a psychotic murderer and ordinary member of the society. Even though his mother has been dead for the past 20 years, he still keeps her spirit alive, metaphorically and literally, and he has no qualms of bringing her back from the dead.

This he does by dressing up as her when he feels the need to control a situation that is getting out of hand. One such situation is the arrival of Mary Crane. His lusted after her and that makes him feel guilty. But being the coward that he is, he lets his ‘mother’ take care of that problem.

Despite being dead, Mrs Bates is the most alive character in this novel. She must have been a very protective mother and this claustrophobic relationship has provoked Norman to develop a lethal aggression towards other women. As a result of his over-identification with his mother, his male identity is dissolved and all the positive side of his personality is denounced by his mother.

Though the movie, which was directed by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, is more popular, the novel is still in a class of its own. Psycho reveals the complexity of the human mind. The characters suffer from the feeling of extreme insanity, be it temporary or permanent, and will leave its readers on the edge. This classic thriller has it all – it’s haunting, brilliant and extremely disturbing!
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