Bright Lights Film Journal

Anorexic Logic: On American Psycho

“Nothing evokes the end of the world more than a man running straight ahead on a beach … cocooned in the solitary sacrifice of his energy … In a sense, he spews himself out … He has to attain the ecstasy of fatigue, the “high” of mechanical annihilation.” – Jean Baudrillard, America

“To eat is to appropriate by destruction; it is at the same time to be filled up with a certain being.” – Jean Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness

In the opening sequence of Mary Harron’s 2000 film, American Psycho, based on the 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis, red sauce which first appears to be blood drips, then runs, over a white background. A butcher knife elegantly cuts into meat on an artfully prepared plate. The film cuts to young, urban professional, Patrick Bateman’s Manhattan apartment, where his tightly muscled body walks out of the shower into an impeccably clean, white space. Displayed on the walls are two prominent pieces of artwork: a black and white painting of an androgynous body, its head obscured by what appears to be the large head of an ax; second, a life-size photograph of a stiletto-heeled, female model gazing down at her stomach, her face and head obscured by long hair. The dramatic obscuring of the face and head in both pieces, which feature soft, “feminine” bodies, emphasizes a fragmentation between mind and body, in the narrative as well as the society it both represents and sharply satirizes. Bateman’s apartment mirrors his own cold, contemptuous demeanor, as evidenced in his narrative, as well as in his bodily presence in Harron’s film.

Bateman’s apparent disgust and obsession with bodies (his own, and in particular, the female body) betrays a paradoxical effort to reject the baseness of the “raw,” naked body, and to consume, as well as dissect, this body. This paradoxical effort holds a tension between Bateman’s self-denial of food and obsessive, punishing discipline over his own body, and his monstrous desire for bloodshed and consumption (which includes cannibalism). On a cultural level, this tension reveals a split, or pull, between mind and body. This pull characterizes an anorexic logic, which Susan Bordo describes as an “ethic and aesthetic of self-mastery and self-transcendence, expertise, and power over others through the example of superior will and control” (178). This anorexic logic not only rules those who are obsessed with the intake and/or withholding of food, but also the dominating values of contemporary (and primarily white and heterosexual) American culture, particularly in the 1980s. Therefore, it is important to further consider and reveal links between the prevalence of eating disorders, the emergence of the “hard body” aesthetic (to which Bateman aspires) that dominated many films of the 1980s, and the ways that masculinity (and femininity) is represented in the film. I see clear links between the pervasiveness of anorexic thinking and the detached, satirical, misogynist landscape of Bateman’s world, which is a curiously disturbed reflection of our own.

In exposing and addressing these links, what insight can one receive from such a comparison between a fictional serial killer’s bloodlust and an “everyday,” anorexic logic? The apparent intactness of Bateman’s bodily surface sharply contrasts the inner moiling of his voracious appetites, just as the rigid control he wields over food and sexual ingestion sharply contrasts his ultimate succumbing to these appetites. Bordo notes that since, and possibly as a result of, the 1980s, contemporary American culture has become

more in touch with our bodies than ever before. But at the same time, [bodies] have become alienated products, texts of our own creative making, from which we maintain a strange and ironic detachment. We have no direct, innocent, or unconstructed knowledge of our bodies; rather, we are always reading our bodies according to various interpretive schemes. (Bordo 288-289)

From this position of relentless narcissism, Patrick Bateman “interprets” his body the same way he “interprets” the rest of world: in a cold, disembodied glance in the mirrors that surround him in the glassy, “new” urban landscape of Manhattan. He is a walking advertisement, a billboard in a sea of billboards, lost in the city-maze. Further, his body is a stand-in for a self devoid of feeling — that is, connection, with the world around him. As Baudrillard demonstrates above, the body’s muscles are useless in a world of surfaces, where the muscles are no longer connected to hard work that is rooted to the earth. A hyper vigilance over structure is analogous to hyper vigilance over the body (what an anorectic puts in the body). The body’s hungers, its dissolution, its connection to the abject stand in direct contrast to the mind’s desire to transcend, or escape the body. Maud Ellmann argues that this struggle between mind and body is “bound up from the beginning with ingestion, and the notion of exteriority with anorexia; that is, with the sentiment that ‘I should like to keep that out of me'” (40). This is exactly what Bateman’s body “states” with its hardness and seeming impenetrability.

Further, with the advent of a new body culture comes an obsession with appearance, excess, the proliferation of eating disorders, and the sense that we (rather, our bodies) are our own enemy. Susan Jeffords argues that the emergence of a “hard body” aesthetic — and a new, driven attention to exercise in the 1980s — was a direct response to the “softening” of American society in the 1960s and especially the 1970s. In particular, “established,” or taken-for-granted definitions of masculinity came under greater scrutiny in the culture at large, especially in the wake of the fatigue and futility that many felt after the Vietnam War ended. During this time, as Jeffords points out, the idea was growing “that America had entered a period of fundamental decline, reversing its history. This prompted new worries about the people’s vigor and ambition, industriousness and will” (3). Notions of “softness” and “hardness” were associated with feminine and masculine attributes, and affected everything from bodily aesthetics to politics, as evidenced by the “get tough,” cowboy logic of the Reagan Administration. For Jeffords,

The Reagan era was an era of bodies…In the dialectic of reasoning that Constituted the Reagan movement, bodies were deployed in two fundamental categories: the errant body containing sexually transmitted disease, immorality, illegal chemicals, ‘laziness,’ and endangered fetuses, which we can called the ‘soft body’; and the normative body that enveloped strength, labor, determination, loyalty, and courage — the hard body’ — the body that was to come to stand as the emblem of the Reagan philosophies, politics, and economics. (24-5)

This “new masculinity” has come to be defined, largely in part due to action film images (such as the Rambo films), the legacy of the Reagan era, and the emergence of greater consumerism, by a new obsession with health, fitness, body-building, and dieting, which all dovetails with the emergence of the “hard body” in American culture. This obsession in turn created new, yet familiar, anxieties about power and a changing world: for example, according to Thomas Byers, the masculine “desire for unity, solidity and control…links paranoia and narcissism with anal retentiveness as tendencies within the constitution of the high capitalist subject [masculine and heterosexual]” (Byers 13). The “high capitalist subject” has been charged with upholding the following characteristics, which emphasize this rigidity and self-centeredness: he must be “competitive in politics and life, sports-minded and athletic, decisive, never wavering or uncertain, unemotional, never revealing true emotions, strong and aggressive, not weak or passive, powerful, and a ‘real man’ — never ‘feminine'” (Jeffords 35), and therefore, I would add, never penetrable. Byers distinguishes this version of masculinity under transformation as an

extreme form of [the] fear of ‘feminization’ [which is] the homophobic’s paranoia about homosexual rape — a fear of violation of the masculine body that, in a heterosexual economy, sees itself as inviolable, as hard and sealed off rather than soft or opened, as the penetrator rather than the penetrable. In our time this paranoia is compounded by the threat of AIDS, which turns the fantasized rape into a potential murder by fluids. (14)

As “hard” as he is on the outside, Patrick Bateman embodies a deadening of the spirit that seemed to take hold of American culture in the 1980s. Bateman works on Wall Street, in a world based on “mergers and acquisitions” (comically twisted in a moment of misrecognition when a woman does not hear that Patrick has said, “murders and executions” when asked what he does for a living). The character of Patrick Bateman, though an embodiment of the descent into self-parody that is evidenced by slasher films, is familiar and attractive. Mark Storey describes Bateman as “the epitome of a certain type of masculinity. Physically perfect, financially successful, popular with women, and surrounded by every conceivable luxury, he is the ultimate cliché of the 1980s male” (5). Of his oddly comical, cavalier and cold descriptions of body parts alongside a meaningless barrage of brand names and goods, Ruth Helyer points out that the “extremely explicit nature of Patrick’s narrative removes many unknown elements and diffuses much of the mystery of violent death. We are capable of becoming accustomed to anything if it can be described, and hence imagined, in recognizable terms” (733).

American Psycho embodies a postmodern vision of a world devoid of spiritual meaning in the midst of material abundance. Anorexia is a symptom of such a world, because it is defined by an obsession with surfaces, and a will to transcend the depths (of hunger, want, need). Partaking in a common ritual that grips most anorectics, Bateman believes in “taking care of [him]self”: he walks us through his daily beauty regimen (a traditionally “feminine” practice), tanning, buffing, exfoliating, waxing himself as he would an expensive car. Although he spends a great deal of time at expensive restaurants, he and his colleagues do not eat the impeccably prepared food. The microscopic attention drawn to food preparation in the opening credits of the film hearkens to the raging hunger and intense focus on food that defines a key characteristic of anorexia. He does one thousand stomach crunches a day, and remarks to his smitten secretary, Jean, “You can always be thinner, look better.”

Aesthetically, anorexia exaggerates a cultural split between mind and body, wherein the latter is a “slave” to the former. As stated above, anorexia and the obsession with exercise depend on a culture in which muscles are pointless in terms of having a labor-intensive purpose. To be “in shape” only matters insofar as the “owner” of the body reflects an image of self-control in a culture of excess food and material wealth. In the essay, “The Anorexic Ruins,” Baudrillard argues that such an explicit mind-body disorder signifies

disgust for a world that is growing, accumulating, sprawling, sliding into hypertrophy, a world that cannot manage to give birth. The principle of satiation and inertia can be read as the desolation of time, of the body, of the land. This body, our body, appears only as nonessential, basically useless in its size, in its multiplicity, and in the complexity of its organs, its materiality, and its functions, what with being everything concentrated today in the head and in the genetic formula that alone, in turn, encompasses the operational definition of being. (Baudrillard 30-31)

Anorectic individuals do not take into account the body’s complexity. Rather, they think primarily in terms of dualities: fat vs. thin. They see parts rather than the whole body; it is an encumbrance, unpredictable, messy, non-conforming. The body, needs, therefore, to be whipped into shape, and a constant vigilance is required to maintain the illusion of simplicity. It is reduced to mathematics, formula and function. Anorexic logic requires one to push up and away from the body, thus rendering “identity” obsolete, for the surface of the body becomes, in the fractured mindset, both malleable and malevolent tissue: meat and bone, or the representation of inside turned out, at once terrifying and seductive. As discussed further below, the anorectic views his/her body not unlike a cold killer might view a victim.

In the 1980s, anorexia, along with other eating disorders, was just beginning to be recognized as illnesses of growing epidemic proportions. Previously, anorexia had been addressed as an isolated affliction of white, upper-class American girls, most notably celebrities and/or daughters of celebrities, such as Karen Carpenter and Sherry Boone (daughter of Pat Boone). Since then, the prevalence of anorexia continues to increase along with the obesity rates in the West. At the same time, the 1980s ushered in a period of fully realized consumerism, along with a backlash against the second-wave feminist movement. Anorexia embodies (literally) the paradox of this strange decade: it is at once a rejection of consumerism (food), and a grotesque acquiescence to the impossible demands of the gleaming surfaces all around us. Patrick Bateman’s passive observation of his own body, while he describes his daily “maintenance,” mirrors an anorectic’s intense focus on his/her paradoxical “care” and destruction. Merging Bateman’s specific, private experience of anorexic behavior with broader implications, Helyer posits that “commodity culture’s pressure to stay in shape physically has become entwined in his feelings of tension regarding his sexuality and urge to kill. Nothing ever seems extreme enough, his excesses simply grow” (736).

Two of Bateman’s “excesses” are slasher films and hard-core pornography. He does one thousand crunches while Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Inside Lydia’s Ass plays in the background. His favorite film is Body Double, and he describes the mutilations of women’s bodies in the same cavalier tone that he uses to describe the process by which he acquires a reservation at expensive restaurants (where he never actually consumes the food). Bateman narrates, “My arm muscles burn, my stomach is as taut as possible, my chest steel, pectorals granite hard, my eyes white as ice. In my lock in the locker room at Xclusive lie three vaginas I recently sliced out of various women I’ve attacked in the past week” (Ellis 370). The impossible interiority of “slicing out” vaginas at once marks the horror of violence towards women, and the bizarre humor at end of the world: when “nature is gone for good” (Jameson ix). The novel’s exhaustive depiction of brutal slaughter alongside Bateman’s long lists of designer products reveals a numb, undifferentiated quality that can only be applied to surfaces. This undifferentiated quality is a litany of waste, and reflects George Yudice’s observation of the body under self-imposed starvation: “What better emblem of the empire of the senseless, useless waste of resources than the insatiable obsess and anorectics of (North) America, driven to passivity, apathy, and indifference by the infinite choice of consumables?” (Yudice 19)

On the surface, American Psycho appears to be just another story about a misogynistic serial killer. Yet, the narrative of both film and novel presents a transformation rendered by the psycho-sexual repression of the feminine principle. The killer’s failure to sublimate the female body ultimately leads him to a dead-end. The “soft bodies” of the individuals (male and female) that he butchers represent the death and dissolution to which Bateman is at once drawn and which he violently repudiates. According to Storey, “This is masculinity with the volume turned up, an identity created not from internal, subjective coherence but from an uneasy chorus of voices, each one representing elements of a dominant masculinity” (7). Upon closer examination, this identity is fractured and eroding, chaotic. For this reason, Storey points out,

Women in particular, but also homosexuals, blacks, and other ethnic minorities, all suffer his wrath at some point…From quick glance, it is obvious why: These are the groups who, in a postmodern society, find their place in the margins being brought into the center. To Bateman, the rise of the marginalized threatens his central position as hegemonic male; to protect that position, he lashes out. (10)

Further, these are the groups that benefited from the consciousness-raising efforts of the 1960s, during which people experienced a re-visioning of Western history, wherein patriarchal domination of the world was undergoing deeper scrutiny on a much wider scale. As a result of this deeper scrutiny, which influenced the creation of university courses on underrepresented literature, postcolonialism, feminist theory, queer theory, etc., a greater multiplicity of silenced voices and genders emerged, but there also emerged a backlash against the efforts of such movements to open the world up to unlimited questioning and creative possibility.

Often considered one step away from pornography, the slasher film came of age at a time when American culture was growing more conservative in response to this emergence of possibility (postmodernism). After the Vietnam era, which in turn gave way to the disco era, “free love,” and sexual experimentation, a new conservatism took over the country, along with the escalation of the Cold War. The generation that came of age in the 1980s learned that sex was death, especially as AIDS emerged as a physical reality, as well as in political and public discourse. This discourse has revealed the fear of contagion that underscores the changes that defined the period between the 1970s and 1980s. The fear of contagion — posited as a fear of “the other” — also permeates Bateman’s narration of American Psycho:

[B]lood pouring from automated tellers, women giving birth through their assholes, embryos frozen or scrambled (which is it?), nuclear warheads, billions of dollars, the total destruction of the world, someone gets beaten up, someone else dies, sometimes bloodlessly, more often mostly by rifle shot, assassinations, comas, played out as a sitcom, a blank canvas that reconfigures itself into a soap opera. It’s an isolation ward that serves only to expose my own severely impaired capacity to feel. (Ellis 343)

In this fast-paced, sound-bite-infused passage, Bateman casually summarizes a few of the most graphic horror and science fiction films of the 1980s, while also personifying the mind-numbing, yet visceral condition of an exhausted world. Specifically, the numbness that results from one’s immersion in the conditions summarized by this passage dovetails with the horror “slasher” film genre that peaked in the 1980s. Helyer posits that American Psycho is a postmodern example of a Gothic literature that examines “characters’ fears of the forbidden and their repression of unauthorized urges. [Such literature] warn[s] against extremes of pleasure and stimulation, which are seen to dull the capacity to reason, and encourage the transgression of social proprieties and moral laws” (726). In the 1980s, Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” slogan pertained to any transgression, not only drugs. The conservatism of the 1980s generated characters that functioned as “punishers” of such transgressions, and heralded in a new era of “self-control” when it came to sex and eating.

The horror films of the 1950s and 1960s focused on the danger being “out there” — in invasions by vampires, werewolves, space aliens, etc. In other words, the “other” was outside ourselves, and we feared its invasion or contamination. By the 1980s, the danger was “inside”; that is, it became us. The slasher film most often depicts a lone killer with a mask coming out of the darkness to do harm, just when we think we are safe. The killer invades suburbia, our dreams, and our bodies. The killer is someone who has gone insane, and can no longer be reasoned with — someone who is at once familiar and foreign to us. During the 1970s and 1980s we saw increasing news footage and popular interest about serial killers and crazy, charismatic cult leaders; there was an increasing fascination in their lives, and the fact that there seemed to be more of them than ever. The slasher film reminded us that the villain is real, not imagined, brutal, and silent, as in films such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Terminator, Prom Night, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Perhaps what most distinguishes the 1980s from the Vietnam era and the 1970s is a new obsession with body image, and the creation of body culture. We could not control whether or not the Russians will attack us with a nuclear bomb, but we can control our bodies and make ourselves like soldiers. We could put the killer in our own homes: the ultimate mirror.

It makes sense that Patrick Bateman likes slasher films. It also makes a strange kind of sense that many of slasher films’ audience members were young women. Although women were most often stalked and killed, a woman was almost always the last survivor — the “hero” of the story who kills the serial killer. In films such as Halloween, and Prom Night, for example, female characters are granted a subjectivity that undercuts their victimization, and the sexual nature of the violence. Ellis does not grant female characters any subjectivity, however. Rather, any hint of it is, according to Laura Tanner, “transferred to a further manifestation of the psycho’s own subjective experience…by claiming our position as his own, [Bateman] closes the distance between reader and violator, exposing the act of watching as an integral part of the acts of violation” (107, 109). By contrast, Harron’s film undercuts such menacing scenes by granting Jean, the secretary, and Christie, a prostitute from the “meat packing” district, with the subjectivity that is granted female protagonists in slasher films. Although Christie understands her predicament (that she is expendable in her dependence on money and sex for survival in a consumerist, misogynist culture), she is a fully drawn character, who valiantly tries to escape her death. As is clear about most serial killers, Bateman’s “goal is not only to torture and murder, but to make her see that torture and murder as an inevitable, necessary conclusion” (Tanner 111).

Just as the slasher film itself “punishes” the reckless (free) sexual activities of young adults in a precariously pre-AIDS society, Bateman slices and dices soft, chaotic flesh into submission. Born of the same conservative society as the slasher film, anorexia symbolically holds the balance between the dramatic forces of life and death. Contrary to its literal definition — loss of appetite — anorexia is the self-imposed starvation and suppression of the life force (food, sex, and their attendant hungers and desires) that distorts one’s relationship to that life force. Within an anorectic person’s psyche is a war between someone who wants control and someone who wants to be free. The 1980s embodies that imperative for control, to make the free spirit pay for sexual “sin.” The “free love” experiments of the 1960s and 1970s are now relics of an innocent era in which some people were “free” to experiment in a relatively consequence-free environment. Even the “edgiest” pornography from the period now seems oddly quaint. In the 1980s the genre shifted to the video format, and plot lines dissolved into sexual acts alone, and became more “hard-core.”

In her analysis of Jonathan Demme’s 1991 film Silence of the Lambs, which is also a slasher film that incorporates the taboo of cannibalism, Diana Fuss deconstructs the act of filmmaking as itself a gesture of dissection and ingestion: “film has always been a technology of dismemberment and fragmentation” (90). Going beyond the “limits” of pornographic debasement, Bateman assimilates with the dead, by cooking and eating body parts and playing with the blood of his victims. These acts are revealed in an impulsive confession Bateman makes to his lawyer, who thinks it is a joke (discussed further below). All the repression of his hungers of course pulls him deeper into them, as Helyer points out:

[a]long with his fear of poverty and dirt, he is horrified by the threat of feminization [contagion] … This realization of the fractured and delicate nature of his own identity makes Patrick feel intensely threatened by anybody displaying any difference: beggars, the homeless, women, and those with less [money, taste, connections]. Yet we see him plunging, both physically and metaphorically, into dirt, dark, and disorder. (Helyer 738-39)

In Bateman’s “plunging,” or, the part where the serial killer “gets careless,” the gross fascination with and repudiation of the body also reveals the ways that hunger “deranges the distinction between self and other” (Ellmann 54). Instead of the character with a depth-based “identity,” we find another masked serial killer; only this time, instead of the easy-to-decipher hockey mask, pumpkin head, or Buffalo-Bill-esque human skin, the mask is the handsome face on the body of its bearer: “[T]here is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I am simply not there” (Ellis 376-77).

We are aware, via Bateman’s telling us, that he is merely an “imitation” of a human being — someone who walks the earth following the scripts of the culture into which he emerged. In a running joke, his co-workers repeatedly fail to recognize each other. Bateman impersonates a competitor, Paul Allen, whom he has murdered. Bateman’s lawyer refuses to take Bateman seriously when he confesses to murdering several people; in fact, his lawyer thinks that he is someone else. In the film, even moments of intense eye contact between characters, close-up, screen-filling shots of Bateman’s gleaming face, assure us with no clarity or deeper understanding, and certainly no resolution. Harron’s interpretation of Ellis’s novel undercuts the most menacing scenes with biting satire in the portrayal of the fierce competition between the bored, over-privileged Wall Street men: it is clear in the painful awareness of designer labels, business card prowess, and the ability to acquire reservations at exquisite restaurants, where no one eats. The absurdity of some scenes functions as a reminder that reality and fantasy are arbitrary: an ATM machine “tells” Bateman to feed it a stray cat, a police car explodes dramatically when Bateman only fires two shots at it, in recognizable 1980s action movie style. The absurdity of these scenes reveals a link between the viewer’s inability to know Bateman’s character and the transparency of his character.

Near the end of the film, when Jean discovers Bateman’s daily planner in an office drawer, the audience sees through her perspective. As haunting, vaguely feminine sing-song voices provide a faint soundtrack, the film splices the image of Jean’s reaction, which is more heartbroken than horrified, gazing upon crude sketches that depict the torturing and dismemberment of women’s bodies, with the image of Bateman in a bar, watching Reagan speak on television about the Iran-Contra Affair. The close-up of Jean’s expression undercuts the grisly power of the drawings and Reagan’s face filling the television screen. One of Bateman’s colleagues remarks, “Look at him, all cool about it … he comes across as a harmless old codger, but — on the inside…on the inside …” As Bateman stares at the screen, his voiceover replies, “But the inside doesn’t matter.” The end of the film presents an anti-revelatory moment: as we discover through Jean’s perspective, the real horror is not in the murderous acts (whether real or imagined, which does not matter, ultimately) themselves, but in the fact that these acts are not witnessed, and worse, that Bateman is never “truly” seen by anyone. Further, Jean’s reaction to the drawings indicates a bodily honesty that the film and the novel deny. In Bateman’s absence, we finally see how he sees, what he denies in the emptiness of an identity, and what he will never be able to escape nor accept: the abject reality of his own flesh and bone existence. As the “This is not exit” sign on the door behind him quietly proclaims, there is no relief even in confession: the “truth” of his acts can only be preserved if there is a witness, someone who will recoil in horror and receive what he is and what he has done. Bateman is forced to realize, as Storey points out, that

not a single coherent identity that comes from within, but a pliable, artificial identity that is formed entirely by the culture that surrounds him…By creating a male protagonist who exists only as an exemplar of traditionally male language systems (violence, pornography, the media, fashion, commerce) taken to their extremes, he undermines the stability of those language systems and shows the impossibility of their attempts to adapt to postmodernity. (Storey 4)

In the end, what can be gleaned from a comparison between a serial killer’s bloodlust and an “anorexic aesthetic”? It could be more important than ever for readers, to more closely examine a character such as Patrick Bateman, because on some level he represents the internalized misogyny of any individual who has attempted to “kill off” a part of his/her “softness.” Since the 1980s, I have come to a sharper awareness of just how closely anorexia connects to the impulse to whip, dominate, and cut the female form into a more masculine ideal — to break away from the soft, curvy, feminine body. The more women and men who become conscious of this phenomenon, the more likely a transformation is to happen: that is, a transformation in how we understand characters like Patrick Bateman can exist, even flourish, in the first place.

Bibliography

American Psycho. Dir. Mary Harron. Perf. Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny. Lion’s Gate Films, 2000.

Baudrillard, Jean. America. Transl. Chris Turner. London: Terso: 1988.

Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Byers, Thomas. “Terminating the Postmodern: Masculinity and Pomophobia.” Modern Fiction Studies. 41.1 (1995): 5-33.

Ellis, Bret Easton. American Psycho. New York: Vintage, 1991.

Ellmann, Maud. The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing, and Imprisonment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.

Fuss, Diana. Identification Papers. New York: Rutledge, 1995.

Helyer, Ruth. “Parodied to Death: The Postmodern Gothic of American Psycho.”Modern Fiction Studies. 46:3. Fall 2000: 725-746.

Heywood, Leslie. Dedication to Hunger: The Anorexic Aesthetic in Modern Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, Or, the Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1991.

Jeffords, Susan. Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1994.

Storey, Mark. “‘And as Things Fell Apart’: The Crisis of Postmodern Masculinity in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho and Dennis Cooper’s Frisk.” Studies in Contemporary Fiction. Fall 2005. Vol. 47. 57-73.

Tanner, Laura. Intimate Violence: Reading Rape and Torture in Twentieth-Century Fiction.Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Yudice, George. “Feeding the Transcendent Body.” Essays in Postmodern Culture. Eyal Amiran and John Unsworth, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993: 13-36.