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Has Norman tried to sign himself in to a psychiatric facility?

Norman states that he has been inside a mental institution. While that could suggest that he has contemplated having his living mother committed, I think that the chief implication is that he has wanted to get help for removing the dead Mrs. Bates from his psyche. That would account for the highly defensive response to Marion's asking about the use of a sanitarium. Maybe Norman has decided that he can't stay in such a place after seeing its interiors, or doesn't know how to explain his problem. He probably thinks that there will be no treatment for him since his situation is unlike that of any other patient.


This is a good question, and those are good points.

This comes under the heading of "the original novel has an explanation, but since the movie doesn't, we can only work with what the movie gives us."

First, from Robert Bloch's novel: in the book, we learn that when the Fairvale police found Mrs. Bates and her lover dead in bed at the Bates house(a "murder suicide"), they also found Young Norman -- in a catatonic state, evidently shocked into withdrawal by the discovery of his Mother's body and that of her lover. (This, after Norman nimself had written the suicide note in mother's hand and, wrote Bloch "literally changed his mind" while doing so -- he BECAME mother, then and there, but in a catatonic state.)

More from the Bloch: after the "murder-suicide," NORMAN was placed in a mental institution by the authorities (he had no other family) to recover from his catatonic "fugue state." And eventually Norman "came out of" that fugue state, was found to be recovered, and released back to his home and motel business. But of course, he wasn't well at all.

This "akins" Norman to ANOTHER Hitchcock character -- James Stewart's Scottie Ferguson in Vertigo, who is ALSO insitutiionalized, about 2/3 through that film, also catatonic and in a fuge state, and ALSO released and ALSO "not really cured." Scottie's madness manfests in the desire to re-create a dead love out of a new woman; Norman's madenss manifests in split personality and (usually) sex-triggered murder.

I wonder if Robert Bloch saw Vertigo in 1958 and used Scottie's institutionalization(and his catatonic state when Midge visits him) as the basis for NOrman's institutionalization and release.


Of course, Psycho II posited that after being revealed as the killer of Marion , Arbogast and others, Norman was RETURNED to a mental institute(this time, for the criminally insane) for 22 years and then released to his house and motel again. And Psycho III ended with Norman AGAIN sent back to the institution, likely for good Psycho IV had him out again, married to a psychiatric nurse and living in a tract home, but that was written as if Psycho II and III had never happened. But in the final analysis, Psycho II, III, and IV "never happened." They were "fan fiction" based on a work of art.

Now, even with all of this found in the Bloch book, nothing of this nature is said in the movie, so all the movie really gives us is the sneaky hunch that Norman HAS been in a mental institution for some reason, or perhaps his mother was, or perhaps another relative. He knows too much about them -- "the laughter and the tears, the cruel eyes studying you." And that "cruel eyes studying you" remark sounds in the many eyes studying people in Psycho: Marion is studied by the cruel eyes of Cassidy, the cop, California Charlie, and Norman himself(at the peephole); Norman is studied by the cruel eyes of Arbogast, Sam, and the psychiatrist, and, noted Hitchcock himself, by the cruel eyes of the stuffed birds who watch Norman and "appeal to his masochism.". (This is part of what I call "the effortless symbolism" of Psycho.)

In addition to the revelation about Norman's institutionalization, other things found only in Bloch's book but not in Hitchcock's movie include:

Arbogast's first name(Milton.)
What's in that book that Lila opens(pornography.)
The name of Mrs. Bates' lover ("Uncle" Joe Considine.)


Thank you, ecarle. The movie seems to have the right balance between explaining things from the book and allowing the audience to infer.


Sure. Thank you for reading! And..I agree.


You're welcome.