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Diagnosis Of Holden Caulfield In A Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger

653 words - 3 pages

The period of adolescence is one of growth. There will be necessary physiological, sexual, and mental changes in a person during this period, therefore making it one of the most important sections of life. If an error is found during the growth of an adolescent, it must be corrected. Holden Caulfield, is an erred adolescent, so he must be fixed. This paper will present a diagnosis for Holden, provide evidence for this claim, provide a hypothetical source for his syndrome, and then recommend a course of treatment. The diagnosis for Holden Caulfield is co-occurring Bipolar I disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The was conjectured because of his recent manic episode, excessive spending and depression, increased energy, constant “loud speech”, inflated self-image, feelings of guilt, suicidal and racing thoughts, obsessiveness with childhood, innocence, and a fear of change [or what can be seen as abnormal requirement for stability]; recommended treatment is referral to a ...view middle of the document...

Depression is not normal sadness; inadequacy and hopelessness accompany normal sadness and that produces depression. The other conjecture that was made was that Holden also suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (hereby referred to as “OCD”). This disorder, oft misunderstood, is characterized by “obsessions” and “compulsions.” Obsessions are frequent, uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts that are involuntary and unwanted. Compulsions are constant necessary behaviors. Compulsions tend to follow obsessions and are done in an attempt to get rid of these obsessions. One well-known example to describe OCD is the obsession of feeling dirty and always believing that one’s self is contaminated, and the compulsion would be to wash one’s hands constantly to get rid of the obsession. After a compulsion is performed, relief will be felt; though, relief will never last. The next section will cover how Holden fits these criteria.
Holden has had a difficult life in comparison to several people – and he has not even reached adulthood. If listening to the subtleties, then from the beginning of Holden’s narrative, a flood of important details would be noted. He mentions his parents and his family, his childhood and talks about himself all within the span of about one long sentence. These details provide us that he had, a “lousy childhood,” “okay” parents, and that he deemed himself to be a burden on his parents (Salinger 1). This is indicative of a low self-esteem and a history of frustration. Furthering supporting the claim of Holden’s long-term frustration is his grey hair. He mentions that he’s had it since he was a kid (Salinger 6). So there must’ve been something going on when he was a child, some unmentioned difficulty. This might be sexual abuse. Holden talks about sexual abuse he suffered as a child in a subtle manner (Salinger 195). These are all possible origins of Holden’s mental illnesses but the actual symptoms he exhibits have not yet been discussed. The aforementioned danger signs for these illnesses are ubiquitous throughout Holden’s narrative.
Holden’s Bipolar Disorder is more visible. Holden mentions several times throughout his session of a constant depressed feeling he gets. It was first mentioned when his former history teacher, Mr. Spencer, could not toss far enough to land anything on the bed.

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