Holden's Diagnosis Mackenzie engle


The Catcher in the Rye is a novel written by J.D Salinger, published in 1951, about the the troubled teenager Holden Caulfield. Throughout the text, Holden faces many obstacles, many with himself. The main idea of the book, facing your inner demons is important to succeed, is something Holden struggles with. Holden has faced a lot of pain and suffering over the past couple of years, making him a very sad, negative person. Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden suffers from depression and shows the symptoms of irritability and unexplained physical illness.


The first symptom Holden exhibits of depression is irritability. During the book, Holden constantly believes people are trying to patronize him when they are just having to have a conversation with him. The National Institute of Mental Health says, " if you have been experiencing some of following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression[....]irritability." (NIMH). A piece of evidence from the text that shows Holden is when he says, "All I know is I got up from the bed, like I was going down to sock him, with all my might right smack in the toothbrush so it would split his goddamn throat open." (Salinger 43). Holden is irritable because he believes that people are phonies, and are not worth being kind to. His lack of faith in humanity is one of the causes of his depression.

Unexplained Physical Illness

Another symptom Holden possesses that is a sign of depression is unexplained physical illness. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden suddenly gets violently ill, and seems senile. However, the mysterious illness cannot be explained. The National Institute of Mental Health says, " If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression[....]aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or do not ease even with treatment." (NIMH). An example of Holden shaving an unexplained illness is when Holden is walking down the street and feels like he is going to vomit. " It was the worst thing I could've done, because the minute I started to laugh I was going to vomit. I really did. I even started to, but it went away. I don't know why." (Salinger 196). Holden never eats when he is depressed because he will randomly feel faint, unable to eat, and get random migraines. I think this occurs because Holden isn't good at controlling his emotions so his body has to respond to try to help him feel better, when it is actually making him worse.


In conclusion, the book The Catcher in the Rye, written by J.d Salinger, published in 1951, tells the story of Holden Caulfield. Holden is a very troubled, 16 year old boy. Holden has had many challenges in his life, for example the death of his brother. I believe Holden suffers from depression. I believe Holden suffers from depression because he exhibits the signs irritability and unexplained physical illness throughout the text.

Work Cited

National Institute of Mental Health. "Depression." National Instiitue of Mental Health, Oct. 2016 , <https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml>. Accessed January 29 2017,

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


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