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Catherine Tramell

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I have a degree in psychology, it goes with the turf... Games are fun.
~ Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct.

Catherine Tramell is the hidden true main antagonist of the Basic Instinct movies.

She was portrayed by Sharon Stone.

History

In Basic Instinct, Catherine Tramell was born in 1960. In Basic Instinct 2, the year appears to be retconned to 1968, as the film's official website in 2006 gave her age as 38.

Her parents were killed in a boating accident in 1979, leaving her with an inheritance of $110 million. The death parallels one of her novels, The First Time, written years later, in which a boy kills his parents to see "if he could get away with it". It's implied she herself caused the accident.


She double-majored in psychology and literature at UC, Berkeley, graduating magna cum laude in 1983. During her college years, her counsellor Prof. Noah Goldstein was murdered with an ice pick, supposedly giving Catherine the idea for her later novel Love Hurts. At the time, she also had a one-time sexual encounter with fellow psychology student Lisa Hoberman (later renamed Elizabeth Garner).

She was engaged to a middleweight boxer named Manuel "Manny" Vásquez, who was killed in 1984 during a prizefight in Atlantic City. Openly bisexual, she has many short-lived, empty affairs with people of both sexes, ending when she discards and kills them.

She published best-selling crime novels. It is suggested that the modus operandi of her murders includes using her novels as alibis. She also makes a habit of befriending murderers, including Hazel Dobkins, an elderly woman who stabbed her husband and their children to death for no apparent reason, and Roxy, her lesbian lover, who killed her two younger brothers with a razor as a teenager.

Catherine Tramell appears as a brilliant, charismatic narcissist, who manipulates everyone around her, largely for her own amusement and enjoys killing people.

Psychological Diagnosis

In Basic Instinct 2, Tramell is diagnosed by Dr. Michael Glass as possessing a "risk addiction." He explains, "Inside I believe she vacillates between a feeling of god-like omnipotence and a sense that she simply doesn't exist, which of course is intolerable. I believe Ms. Tramell's behavior is driven by what we might call a risk addiction. A compulsive need to prove to herself that she can take risks and survive dangers that other people can't. Especially the subsequent encounters with the police, the powers that be. The greater the risk, the greater the proof of her omnipotence. Her existence really. All addiction is progressive, the addict will always need to take greater and greater risks. I suspect the only limit for her would be her own death."

Glass goes on to describe Tramell as "narcissistic" and a "pathological liar". Various characters throughout Basic Instinct 2 describe her as a psychopath with narcissistic personality disorder.  She displays heavy antisocial features and traits.

Basic Instinct

Killing isn't like smoking. You can quit.
~ Catherine Tramell to Nick Curran in Basic Instinct.

When rock star Johnny Boz is brutally stabbed to death with an ice pick during sex, homicide detective Nick Curran is sent to investigate. The only suspect is Catherine Tramell , (a crime novelist who was the last person to be seen with Boz on the night he died. Nick and his partner, Gus Moran visit her Pacific Heights mansion, but they find only Catherine's lesbian lover, Roxy, who sends them to Catherine's Stinson Beach house. When they ask Catherine about her relationship with Boz, she shows little emotion at hearing he is dead. Nick and Gus, along with their superiors, discover that Catherine has written a novel about a former rock star who was killed in the same way as Boz. During questioning by detectives, including Nick, at police headquarters, Catherine engages in provocative behavior, refuses to extinguish her cigarette and repeatededly uncrosses her legs under her short skirt which reveals she is not wearing underwear.

Nick, who accidentally shot two people while high on cocaine, attends counseling sessions with police psychologist Dr. Beth Garner, with whom he has had an affair. After the interrogation, Nick goes to a bar with co-workers and is taunted by Lieutenent Marty Nilsen, an internal affairs investigator bent on making life difficult for Nick. When Beth arrives, Nick leaves with her, and they have rough sex in her apartment. Nick learns that Catherine has a troubled history: Her parents were killed when she was an adolescent, leaving her a fortune; one of her college counselors was also murdered with an ice pick, and that her fiancé, a boxer, was killed in the ring. He also discovers that Catherine makes a habit of befriending murderers, including Hazel Dobkins, an elderly woman who stabbed her husband and children for no apparent reason.

During a visit to her house, Catherine taunts Nick with information that should be confidential. As a police psychologist, Beth is the only person with access to that information. When Nick confronts Beth, she admits that she handed his file to Nilsen, who threatened to discharge Nick if he could not evaluate him directly. An enraged Nick storms into Nilsen's office, assaults him, and accuses him of having sold Nick's file to Catherine. Nilsen then suspends Nick, who goes home and spends the evening drinking. Beth visits him, but after a heated argument, he throws her out. Later that night, Nilsen is found in his car, dead from a single gunshot to the head. Because of their recent altercation, Nick is the prime suspect.

A torrid affair between Nick and Catherine begins with the air of a cat-and-mouse game. Catherine explains that she will base her next novel's character—a cop falling for the wrong woman only to be killed by her—on Nick, while at the same time he declares his love for her and his unchanged intention to nail her for Boz's murder.

A jealous Roxy tries to run Nick over with Catherine's car, but after a car chase she is killed in a crash. Her death reveals that she too has a murderous past. After Roxy's death, Catherine seems genuinely saddened, and Nick begins to doubt her guilt. Catherine later reveals that a previous lesbian encounter at college went awry when the girl became obsessed with her. Nick identifies the girl as Beth Garner, who acknowledges the encounter but claims it was Catherine who became obsessed.

When Nick visits Catherine, she explains that she has finished her book, and coldly ends the affair. Upset, Nick meets Gus, who has arranged to meet with Catherine's college roommate at a hotel. As Nick waits in the car, Gus enters the hotel and is stabbed in the elevator by a hooded figure, in the way described in Catherine's new book. Nick figures out there is trouble brewing and runs into the building, but he arrives too late to save Gus. Hearing the floor creak, Nick grabs Gus' gun and turns to find Beth standing in the hallway, explaining she received a message to meet Gus there. However, Nick suspects that she murdered Gus, and as Beth moves her hand in her pocket, he shoots her. With her final breath, Beth tells Nick that she loved him. A dejected Nick checks her pocket, only to find her keys. The police arrive, and in a staircase discover a blond wig, a SFPD raincoat, and an ice pick, the weapon used to murder Gus, concluding that Beth ditched the items when she heard Nick coming up. A search of Beth's apartment turns up the evidence needed to brand her as the killer of Boz, Gus, Nilsen, and presumably her own husband—the matching revolver, Catherine's novels, and photos chronicling the writer's life.

Nick returns to his apartment where he is met by Catherine. She explains her reluctance to commit to him, but then the two make love. Afterward, the conversation turns toward their possible future as a couple. While talking, Nick turns his back on Catherine as she slowly reaches for something underneath the bed. She stops when Nick senses her stillness; he looks around with distrust in his eyes, and she throws her arms around him and the two resume making love as the camera slowly pans down to show what she was reaching for under the bed: an ice pick.

Basic Instinct 2

I feel like a cigarette.
~ Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct 2.
Catherine Tramell

Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct 2.

Set in London, the film opens with American best-seller author Catherine Tramell in a speeding car with her companion Kevin Franks, a famous English football star. Tramell takes the man's hand and begins masturbating with it, all the while increasing her vehicle's speed. At the point of orgasm, Tramell veers off the road and crashes into the West India Docks in Canary Wharf. She attempts to save her partner but, as she says in the subsequent scene, "When it came down to it, I guess my life was more important to me than his."

Tramell is interrogated by Detective Supt. Roy Washburn of Scotland Yard. He claims that D-Tubocurarine, a neuromuscular blocking agent used to relax muscles during general anesthesia, was found in her car, and that a man named "Dicky Pep" said that he sold Tramell "15 milliliters of DTC last Thursday." Tramell counters by saying that this Dicky Pep must be lying because "you’ve got him on some other charge and he's trying to deal his way out, if he even exists."

Tramell begins therapy sessions with Dr. Michael Glass, who has conducted a court-ordered psychiatric exam and given testimony in her case. Glass strongly suspects that Catherine Tramell is a sociopath incapable of telling the difference between right and wrong. Tramell begins to play mind games with Glass, who becomes increasingly frustrated with, yet intrigued by, this mysterious woman. Soon, Glass's own life begins a spiral of destruction.

One night, Glass goes on a date with Michelle Broadwin, and has rough, violent sex with her after dealings with Tramell. Glass receives a phone call from his ex-wife in a state of distress. Her partner, a journalist writing a negative story about Glass, has been found dead. Glass suspects that Tramell committed the murder and is attempting to frame him for it. More murders begin to surface around Glass as his obsession with Tramell grows and his career and life are threatened; eventually, he himself can no longer tell right from wrong.

The situations comes to a head during a confrontation between Glass and Tramell at her apartment where, after a struggle, Glass attempts to kill Tramell. Tramell gives Glass a copy of the draft of her next novel, titled "The Analyst". After reading it, he realizes that Catherine has novelized most of the recent events with herself and other people related to Dr. Glass, even himself, as characters. Then it turns out that the character based on herself is going to kill a therapist based on Glass's colleague, Dr. Gardosh.

Glass runs to Gardosh's apartment to warn her, finding Tramell there to his dismay. Gardosh tells him that he is not in charge with Tramell's therapy anymore and that he's going to have his license revoked, due to bad practice regarding Tramell's treatment. There is a struggle between Glass and Gardosh, in which the latter is knocked out. Catherine then threatens Glass with a gun she carries, but Glass takes it away from her. When Detective Washburn arrives at the scene, Glass kills him because Tramell told him he had killed the girlfriend of one of Glass's patients just to "nail him".

In the final scene, Tramell pays a visit to Glass at a local mental hospital where he has been institutionalized, and he learns from her that the subject of her latest best-selling novel was a man very much like him. Tramell claims that she manipulated Glass into committing all those murders for her own amusement. Tramell leaves with a wicked smirk on her face, while Glass continues to sit silently in his wheelchair, stymied by frustration and rage.

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