Diagnosing Holden By Marissa Metz


In 1951, J.D. Salinger wrote The Catcher in the Rye focusing on a troubled young boy and his challenges growing up, causing him to suffer from depression. Holden Caulfield has witnessed the aftermath of a suicide, lost his brother to Leukemia, and was known as the family let down. His life was not easy and as a result of these horrific situations, it has changed him mentally. Though it is one of the most popular books world-wide, it has caused a big controversy all from its vulgar language and basis thoughts.


Repeatedly seen throughout the text, Holden has tried to isolated himself from the real world. He has had a loss of interest in his hobbies and doesn't like to participate in other activities (NIMH). When I first met Holden, "...I kept standing next to that crazy cannon, looking down at the game and freezing my ass off. Only, I wasn't watching the game to much." (Salinger 4) he was a good distance outside the football field. These actions prove that he prefers to be alone and can cause him to feel like he does not have many friends. Instead of being with the other kids from his school and participating, he was keeping himself away from others and in his own thoughts. It seems as if he's losing interest and trying to be a part from everyone else.

Traumatic Events

A huge risk factor of depression is caused by traumatic events such as major life changes, trauma, or lots of stress (NIMH). Holden's earlier childhood was hard on him, he suffered a lot with witnessing a suicide and being the family let-down because of his poor attitude towards school. The most horrific event in his life was losing his brother Allie to cancer. The night the bad news came, it changed Holden's life forever, "I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the god damn windows with my fist, just for the hell of it." (Salinger 39). His brothers death has caused him anger and grief, frustration and guilt for not being able to say goodbye. He carries that with him and it continues to throw him off as days go by. The tragedies in Holden's life have changed the person he is as he grew up and his way of handling these situations have resulted in him isolating himself and stemming to depression.


The Catcher in the Rye focuses on a depressed boy named Holden Caulfield, written in 1951 by J.D. Salinger. It's quite obvious to me that he is depressed from his symptoms of Isolation and Traumatic Events. Losing his brother at a young age will forever have an impact on him and abolished the peace he had within himself, same with witnessing a peer commit suicide nearby. These and more of his tragedies have changed him forever and with the symptoms and his way of living, i believe Holden Caulfield is depressed.


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

National Institute of Mental Health. “Depression.” National Institute of Mental Health, Oct. 2016, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml. Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.


Created with images by kasio69 - "_BRK9361 the catcher in the rye" • Camillaen - "Isolation"

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