Diagnosing Holden Leila kirlin


J.D. Salinger wrote The Catcher In The Rye in 1951 about a boy, Holden Caulfield, who spends a few days running all around New York after being kicked out of the school he attended. PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. In The Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield shows signs of having PTSD such as; cognition and mood and childhood trauma.

Cognition and Mood

Holden shows symptoms such as cognition and mood which include "negative thoughts about self or world"(NIMH). Holden goes to a bar and starts to think to himself "If you sat around there long enough and heard all the phonies applauding and all, you got to hate everybody in the world, I swear"(Salinger 142). Holden calls a lot of people phonies and that thought never fluctuates. By calling them phonies, he is having negative thoughts about other people in the world. He also admits to his sister, Phoebe, that he does not like a lot of people or things in the world.

Childhood Trauma

Holden also shows another symptom of PTSD like childhood trauma. A cause of childhood trauma is "after a friend or family member experiences danger or harm"(NIMH). He talks about a memory he has of when he went to a different school and a kid there killed himself. He talks about the kid and says about how "he jumped out the window"(Salinger 170). Holden experienced something very unsightly, another kid in his school committing suicide. Seeing that kid die could have really affected him, considering how young he was at the time and the kid was wearing the turtleneck that Holden had lent him when he died.


In J.D. Salinger's book, The Catcher In The Rye, through cognition and mood and childhood trauma, Holden Caulfield shows signs of PTSD. Holden has many negative thoughts about not only himself, but also other people. He also experienced a lot of childhood trauma as a kid such as; when his brother Ali died and when James Castle had committed suicide.


National Institutes of Health. “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, Feb. 2016, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml.Accessed 29 Jan. 2017.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Little, Brown, and company, 1951.


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