Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Norman Bates Profile: A Halloween Meta-Analysis



In the deepening gloom of the post-equinoctial season, we are cheered to find the spirit of I Smell Dead People taking hold of a new generation of decay-obsessed social media types. There is, for example, the elegantly produced Death/Scent blog (“Exploring the weird & wonderful world of fragrance & funerals”) and its associated twitter account @DeathandScent.

Here at FirstNerve Manor, we admit to being sadly negligent in the I Smell Dead People department. It takes quite an effort to track down and validate (according to our strict rules) every incident of a deceased person being discovered through the scent of corporeal decay. FirstNerve simply doesn’t have the resources to pay all the little Festers who serve as our ISDP scribes and scorekeepers. We tried to code a proprietary algorithm to handle the task, but it kept choking on news items about blooming Corpse Flowers.

Nevertheless, we still monitor the police blotters and were inspired to tweet a couple of potential 2017 Norman Bates Award™ nominees this month. [This prize is given to the person or persons who has shown exemplary, if bizarre, olfactory fortitude in living in close quarters with a dead body.—Ed.] One nominee was a guy in Georgia who lived with the body of his deceased aunt; the other was a Minnesotan who cohabited with the bodies of his mother and twin brother.

Both cases were somewhat anomalous. We don’t recall a nominee’s aunt figuring in any previous incident, but we’ve seen twins before. Brothers Edwin Larry Berndt and Edward Christian Berndt, of Houston, Texas, won the 2011 Norman Bates Award for living three months with the corpse of their 89-year-old mother.

This got us thinking about family relationships. The “actual” Norman Bates lived with the remains of his mother, and our impression has been that mothers are over-represented as co-habitees. But is this true? We decided to gather some data and analyze it.

Our source was the Norman Bates Award™ archives. The prize was given for six years running (2010 to 2015); our total database consists of 45 nominees and 47 bodies. Here’s how it breaks down:

Number of nominees who lived with body of
mother 14
father 4
husband 4
wife 1
brother 3
sister 1
son 2
daughter 2
uncle 1
girlfriend 3
boyfriend 2
roommate/housemate 5
landlord 1
unknown 4
So there you have it: the Norman Bates profile is real. An NBA nominee is far more likely to live with the remains of his mother than any other category of deceased person. (It’s not all guys btw—the list includes a few Norma Bates’s.)

More generally, parents (18) outnumber spouses (5), siblings (4), children (4) and BF/GFs (5).

In 9 cases (20% of the total) the deceased was murdered by the NBA nominee. This was true for 2 of 14 mothers, 1 of 4 fathers, 1 of 2 daughters, 1 of 2 BFs, 2 of 3 GFs, 1 of 5 roommates/housemates, and the landlord.

What drives people to cohabit with the deceased? Our guess is mental incompetence and/or panic, with anosmia as a possible contributing factor. But there is often a venal motivation for concealing the death—in 6 cases the NBA nominee cashed the dead person’s Social Security or pension checks, or otherwise made use of their bank account.

That’s it for now. We have to go to Big Bob’s Work Wear and buy bib overalls for our Chucky costume. See ya next time!

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