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Catcher In The Rye Essay

by SwallowedByInsanity

The last two paragraphs definitely need the most help, but any feedback would be much appreciated! Thanks :D

Holden Caulfield, the protagonist from Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger, struggles with symptoms associated with depression and PTSD. For example, the loss of his younger brother, Allie, was the spark to the flame. The traumatic incident ultimately led to his downfall and thus began the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. After the death of his brother, Holden lost interest in well, life basically. He started avoiding his parents, failing out of every school he attended, and became extremely frustrated with nearly everyone he ran into. Throughout the book he repeatedly has thoughts of his own death as well as simply death in general. All of these are clear symptoms that point to both PTSD and clinical depression.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that derives from a traumatic event that the victim witnesses or experiences. According to, a few of the most common events that cause a person to develop post-traumatic stress disorder include military combat, violent assaults, natural disasters, rape or sexual harassment, serious accidents, terrorist incidents, or a loss of any kind. Holden Caulfield was burdened with the tragic passing of his brother, Allie, who suffered from leukemia. The death left a deep mark on Holden and his reaction depicted that of tremendous sadness. "I slept in the garage the night he died, and broke all the goddamn windows with my fist, just for the hell of it" (Salinger 39). After acting out on his misery, Holden was hospitalized and therefore unable to attend the funeral. Impulsive violence, a sign of depression, was not an unusual response from Holden. The unfortunate circumstances created by the series of strenuous events were a definite trigger of Holden’s post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are mental conditions that often go hand-in-hand” (Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 1). Studies have shown that nearly all patients diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were later diagnosed with clinical depression as well. Often, PTSD is misdiagnosed as depression, probably due to the obvious similarity between the two mental conditions. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can cause it’s victim to have flashbacks of the incident as well as recurring and obsessive thoughts in reference to the tragedy or anything linked to it. “My brother Allie had this left handed fielders mitt. He was left-handed. The thing that was descriptive about it, though, was that he had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere. In green ink” (Salinger 38). Holden’s mind was often wandering to thoughts of Allie, or his mitt, or anything else that reminded him of his younger sibling. These constant miserable memories diluting one’s mind and sending them back to that experience could easily push anyone into a major depression. The two mental illnesses are a recipe for suicidal thoughts and or actions.

The entirety of the story is Holden’s 3-day or so binge where he runs around the city in hopes to avoid getting busted too badly by his parents. But it isn’t really getting busted that’s the issue for him, it’s avoidance of his parents in general. When Holden visits Phoebe she doesn’t exactly deliver a pleasing response, and reacts rather negatively. ""You don't like anything that's happening." It made me even more depressed when she said that. "Yes I do. Yes I do. Sure I do. Don't say that. Why the hell do you say that?"" (Salinger 169). Here, Phoebe points out that Holden doesn’t really like much of anything, which is true. When asked to name one thing he likes, Holden immediately brings up Allie, his dead brother. Avoidance of parents, loss of interest, and many other symptoms are clearly set in Holden. His constant thoughts of his younger brother are definitely unhealthy and most likely derive from the PTSD as well.

Based on my research of causes and symptoms, Holden appears to suffer from PTSD, which potentially led to a case of clinical depression. His depression could have driven him to suicide, but luckily he received help from a Psych Ward. The loss of a loved one could easily discourage anyone from having motivation in school or at any aspect of life, including socializing. Holden had issues in many areas of his life and will hopefully leave the mental hospital with a more positive attitude towards the world and everyone in it.

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