Study Guide

Psycho Madness


Madness in Psycho is mainly about gender confusion. Norman is mad because his sexual desire, his mother love, and his jealousy have all gotten tangled up together until he doesn't know whether he's a mama's boy or a murdering mother. Norman doesn't fit into his gendered role as a regular guy, and so he must be a murderous lunatic.

In reality, of course, transsexual women or transvestites aren't any more likely to be insane or dangerous than anyone else. In presenting cross-dressers as murderers, Psycho is revealing its own prejudices and irrational fears—its own madnesses, in other words.

Questions About Madness

  1. Marion says at one point that she went a little mad. Did she? Explain your answer.
  2. Was Norman insane when he killed his mother? Or only afterwards? Explain your answer.
  3. Is the psychiatrist's diagnosis believable? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Norman's mother is mad, and infects him with her madness.

Norman is mad, and swallows his mother in his madness.

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