Diagnosing Holden Hunter Borgmann


The Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951, takes place in the 1900's. The author, J.D. Salinger shows how he feels is the average teenage life. The main character named Holden tries to protect himself and others from losing their influence. During the book Holden states experiences of very traumatic events. Holden actions are not typical and evidence shows something is unstable with him. I'm diagnosing Holden with PTSD due to the traumatic events of his brother dying, being abused as a child, and witnessing suicide. In Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, Holden endures the PTSD symptoms of avoidance, and cognition/mood symptom.


During the book Holden shows avoidance to anything that reminds himself of a past traumatic experience.‘’Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms (NIMH).'' This symptom consists of ''Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience''(NIMH). In the book Holden recalls going to his brothers grave ‘’I went with them a couple of times, but I cut it out. In the first place, I certainly don’t enjoy seeing him in that crazy cemetery''(Salinger 155). This shows Holden avoids his brothers grave to try an eradicate the memory of him dying.

Cognition/mood symptom

Cognition/mood symptom causes ‘’Negative thoughts about oneself or the world''(NIMH). Holden frequently has a negative disposition or mood. Holden has thoughts of suicide and worthlessness throughout the book. While laying in a hotel bedroom he states ’’What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would’ve done it, too, if I’d been sure somebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed''(Salinger 104). Holden states that he would commit suicide if he felt like someone would cover him up and take care of his body when he died. This shows Holden's negative thoughts of himself by feeling as if no one will care if he dies.


I diagnosed Holden with PTSD due to the traumatic experiences that have occurred in his life. His brother dying, witnessing suicide, and being abused as a child were some of his traumatic experiences. Holden exhibits the symptoms of avoidance, and cognition/mood symptom in Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

Work Cited:

National Institute of Mental 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 8 Feb. 2017.

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


Created with images by Pexels - "barley close-up crops" • angela n. - "Lafayette Cemetery" • 50 Watts - "Randy McKee, The Catcher in the Rye (entry for the 50 Watts' Polish Book Cover Contest)"

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