Catcher in the Rye Depression

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The Catcher in the Rye, was written in 1951. Salinger, the author of this novel, was born January first 1919, and was widely known because of this book itself. There was no movie made based off the Catcher in the Rye because Salinger refused to sell movie rights. Even though Salinger passed away, his family still lives up to what he wants, which is to only have a book. Salinger worked on this book while fighting in World War II, and because of fighting in this war many people argue that he may have had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This book was made to be targeted by adults but because of the message that is perceived, many schools now use it in class. In the novel the Catcher in the Rye, by J.D Salinger, Holden Caulfield repeatedly shows evidence of having the mental illness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

According to the ¨Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Fact Sheet, five percent of Americans are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at any given time. What is PTSD ? It is having upsetting memories, feeling on edge, and having trouble sleeping, but only after a traumatic event. This doesn’t only happen for a couple weeks or a month, PTSD lasts for more than that amount of time. A symptom of this mental illness is re-experiencing the trauma that was went through, with flashbacks and nightmares. Other symptoms consist of difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, feeling very jumpy and easily being irritated, and the avoidance of places, people, or activities that bring back flashbacks of the traumatic event. Some events that can be the cause of an individual suffering from this mental illness are, serious road accidents, traumatic birth, witnessing a natural disaster, or being sexually assaulted. This comes back to Holden because he has basically experienced many of the causes, and shows many of the symptoms.

Going through a situation more than once can cause an individual to be on the edge and scared. How does this tie to Holden? Holden, in the novel, states ¨When something perverty like that happens, I start sweating like a bastard. That kind of stuff happened to me about twenty times when i was a kid. I can stand it,¨(Salinger 188) . Before this statement was said, Holden wakes up to Mr. Antolini sitting by the couch and petting his head in the middle of the night. This is very strange behavior that Holden claims he already went through several times. This situation proves he has PTSD because after the situation occurred he ran away, which is a symptom of PTSD. Holden ran away to avoid anything that reminded him of the past times he? been through it, in other words, a trauma.

The experience of an individual losing someone they were really close with can also be the cause of PTSD. In the novel, Catcher In The Rye, Holden frequently brings up his younger brother, Allie, who has passed away because of leukemia. Evidence from the book shows that even though Allie was younger, Holden still looked up to him. Holden states ¨I have this one stupid aunt with halitosis that kept saying how peaceful he looked lying there, D.B told me. I wasn’t there. I was still at the hospital. I had to go to the hospital and all after I hurt my Hand,”(Salinger 171). This was stated after Holden tells us that he could not be able to attend Allie’s funeral. With this quote he Salinger was trying to indicate that due to Holden’s method of griefing, breaking the windows with his hands, he was not able to attend Allie’s funeral, meaning he was not able to receive closure from his death. This is a huge sign of PTSD because he suffered from a traumatic event, but never got closure from it, which only makes the situation more difficult.

Physically witnessing a suicide can be very traumatic, even if all that was seen was the body and not the act itself. In this novel, Holden witnesses a suicide that happened while attending a school, Elkton Hills. Holden states “He was dead, and his teerth, and blood, were all over the place, and nobody would even go near him. He had on this turtleneck sweater i’d lent him. All they did with the guys that were in the room with him was expel them. They didn’t even go to jail,”(Salinger 188). With this statement, it can be seen that Golden lost respect/trust for the authority of the school, who didn’t punish the kids to the extent that they deserved. This statement also shows mayor signs of PTSD because it is obvious that this suicide was a flashback. It is obvious that it is a flashback because this popped up in his head while Phoebe asked him to name one thing that he liked, and while he was trying to answer, stated he could not concentrate. This has everything to do with PTSD because witnessing a suicide is the traumatic event, and having flashbacks about it is the result of the incident, which is a symptom of PTSD.

Feeling depressed is also a symptom of PTSD. Depression, and other mental Illnesses often co-occur with PTSD. In the novel Holden shows signs of depression, a symptom of PTSD, when he states “It took me quite a while to get sleep — I wasn’t even tired — but finally I did. What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would’ve done it, too, if I’d been sure somebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed. I didn’t want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory,”(Salinger 116-117) This shows that Holden is depressed because he mentions how he couldn’t sleep, obviously because of overwhelming thoughts, and how the only thing he wanted to do at the moment was jump out the window. He can be imitating James traumatic death. Imitating a traumatic event also is evidence of PTSD, especially in children. This shows that he is both depressed and thinking about James.

When arguing for the validity, of Holden indeed having the mental illness of PTSD, one reading this novel might suggest otherwise. It can be suggested that Holden is just a normal teenage kid going through normal teenage situations. Even though this argument may be true, and Holden deos go through similar situations a regular teenager might go through, if an individual is reading this novel from a psychological point of view, it can easily be seen that Holden has several flashbacks of very unpleasant events, is afraid to confront certain situations due to these traumatic events, and tends to often show many symptoms of having PTSD. Yes, he experiences simple things like falling in love, making and losing friends, but witnessing a suicide and not being able to get closure from a loved one’s death is not as normal.

In conclusion, in the novel, The Catcher In The Rye, it is entirely certain that Holden suffers from the mental illness of PTSD. Holden’s mental illness can be cured in many ways. In the novel, Holden constantly wants someone to talk to, which may indicate that therapy can be able to identify as a major cure. However, there are many types of therapy. It can be inferred that Holden would be able to benefit from Cognitive Therapy. What is Cognitive Therapy? Cognitive Therapy is when the traumatic event that has been experienced is discussed, and written down in great detail. A major theme Salinger portrayed in this novel is death, because the deaths in this book greatly affected Holden. This affected Holden because the death of Allie and Janes are two deaths of which led Holden to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. To close off, Holden does suffer from PTSD, and there is a various amount of evidence to prove it.

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Catcher in The Rye Depression. (2021, Jun 17). Retrieved from

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