Diagnosing Holden Connor Neiswender


In J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, I believe that Holden is suffering from depression. The moral of this novel is that nothing can stay forever; innocence cannot stay forever. After observing the way Holden Caulfield acts I believe he is suffering from a sever case of depression. He shows many signs and symptoms of depression including suicidal thoughts, and prolonged episodes of sadness.

Suicidal Thoughts

Holden often has suicidal thought throughout the novel and constantly thinking about death and possibly killing himself. Holden states, "Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone" (Salinger). Holden is referring to the artifacts in the museum but I believe it is a metaphor for himself. Holden believes he should just be left alone and for people to stop interfering with his life. Not being left alone may lead to suicidal actions instead of just thoughts.

Prolonged Episodes of Sadness

Throughout the entirety of the novel Holden was in a saddened or depressed state. He was never exceptionally excited. Holden was in a prolonged episode of sadness throughout the story. Holden often acts out due to his episodes; he went into a shocked state during one of his episodes, "If you didn't go to New York, where'd ya go with her?" I asked him, after a little while. I could hardly keep my voice from shaking all over the place. Boy, was I getting nervous. I just had a feeling something had gone funny" (Salinger 42). Holden's episodes of sadness affect his personality through these times; he often does not want to face any form of adversity and acts very different at different times.


Holden is suffering from depression. He is often showing signs of suicidal thoughts, and prolonged episodes of sadness. It seems that Holden is notorious for his changes in personality and actions. The diversity in his actions shows the many different ways he can act.


National Institute of Mental Health. "Depression." NIMH Information, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

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


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