Catcher And the Rye. What is Going through Holden's? By; Sarah didget


Thoughts, they run through everyone's minds. Whether the topic of these thoughts be on are bad or good or simple or complex. They are something that every human has in common. But what can these thoughts determine about someone. A person's thoughts can determine whether that person has a mental illness or not. The process of diagnosing someone with an mental illness can be an very difficult process. This topic is also brought up a lot when people discuss the book the Catcher and the Rye by J.D. Salinger. There is a lot of controversy over what and if the main character, Holden Caulfield, has a mental illness. Although Holden does so many different emotions and thought through the book of different mental illnesses it is my belief that he does not in fact have a mental illness and is just a regular teen reacting to what goes on around him. In the book The Catcher in The Rye, by J.D. Salinger, Holden shows many emotions and thoughts throughout the book that help prove how he is just an regular teenager.

Symptom 1

During brain development in the teen years, there is evidence that show that teens are more susceptible to emotionally loaded topics and situations. This connects to holden and how he is a normal teenager for multiple different reasons. Holden has witnessed many traumatic events. One event that holden has talked about is about another boy in Holden's dorm. The boy in Holden's dorm was James Castles Holden talked about what happened to him and how he knew about it, "I won't even tell you what did to him - it's to repulsive - but he still wouldn't take it back, old james castle. And you should've seen him. He was a skinny little weak-looking guy, with wrist about as big as pencils. Finally, what he did, instead of taking back what he said, he jumped out the window. I was in the shower and all, and even I could hear him land outside" (pg 170). This event affected Holden in many different ways. I believe that this happening is one of the reasons why Holden can be perceived as depressed or having PTSD. This also ties in with the symptom that was stated befor, adolescents are more susceptible to more sensitive and traumatic events due to the brain circuitry involved in emotions is more sensitive during this age. Witness the boy Castle commit suicide affected Holden and brought him down from his original standpoint. It brought him more questions about his life that he thought of before also when his brother died. Having all this death around brought up some questions about what would happen him, Holden, if he were to pass away. These thoughts could be thought of as symptoms of an mental illness but they are also just symptoms of holden being a regular teenager. It shows how Holden may be experiencing the symptom of being more emotionally sensitive to emotional stimulating situations.

Symptom 2

Another symptom Holden that shows signs of is poor judgement. Now this symptom is a symptom of an symptom. During a person's adolescent years their brains goes through multiple different changes and development. These developments of the brain can cause the unfortunate teen to push back the time they go to sleep. This will decrease the amount of time they sleep during the night. This is considered to be sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can lead to poor decision making/ judgment. Now there are multiple different times when Holden makes poor decision an example of one of those times would be '' dear Mr. Spencer [he reads aloud]. That is all I know about the Egyptians. I can't seem to get very interested in the although your lectures are very interesting, it is alright if you flunk me though as I am flunking every subject but english anyway"(pg12). This quote takes place when Mr. Spencer, Holden's social studies teacher, was reading back his final essay that he summited. Holden had left a note telling the teacher to flunk him. This is a poor decision made on holden's part that could have been from him not sleeping enough. Holden also makes many more poor decisions throughout the book such as smoking and drinking alcohol. These decisions could have been nurtured from his sleep deprived brain.


Throughout the whole book holden show may symptoms that could be perceived may different way. His belligerent attitude, poor decision making and overall mood most of the book makes it seem as though Holden is just a regularly teenager. Holden show signs of both symptoms of poor decision making and deep feelings over emotionally triggering events. In the book the Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, the main character holden shows many symptoms of being an regular teen.


"NIMH ยป The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction.", Accessed 8 Feb. 2017.

J.D. Salinger. The Catcher in the Rye. Little Brown and Company, New York. 1991: 12. Print.

J.D. Salinger. The Catcher in the Rye. Little Brown and Company, New York. 1991: 170. Print.

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