The Catcher in the Rye

psychiatric diagnosis of Holden

Anyone know what a psychiatric diagnosis of Holden would be? for example - paranoid, antisocial? asbergers and ideas for a name for his mental illness

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Look I have read the book 3 times. Though having studied a lot of clinical psychiatry at university I never put myself this question. The main reason for that is that psychiatry does not give nothing more than labels - and medication.. There are deep psychoanalytical issues about Holden and this would be a much more interesting discussion, closer to the book's scope. I'm sure that Sallinger had a very deep insight on the adolescent human being, and a psychiatric perspective would just substitute Holden's depth and charm with a label like "borderline". Note that there is a big scientific debate about ascribing personality disorders to adolescents since "pathology" is largely part of adolescents' very personality formation. And the book is on an adolescent's personality formation. I really think that this book is more useful to understand adolescence than psychiatry is to understand the book..

"Mental illness"??

Firstly, I am strongly opposed to the suspition that Holden has a mental illness. What he has is depression. Depression over the loss of his brother, which is a perfectly natural and understandable thing.

To portray Holden firstly as a strangely individual human being, who is clearly very unique, what with his rebellion against society's rules that he does not believe in etc. Holden feels like a misfit, like he is very different from everyone else he knows, and he is right. In the book, however, this is shown as a good thing, to then go on and attribute his personality simply to a mental illness would totally undermine the whole message of the book.

Holden is different, and I don't see this as a bad thing. Just because he feels seperate from his society does not mean he has a mental illness. That would imply that everyone out there who relates to Holden, in that they are very individual and independant, and a little cut off from society, only feel so because of an illness. This view shouldn't be tolerated. I don't think that Holden suffers this way, I just think he isn't quite sure how to deal with his depression. That's all.

Sorry about the rant...

I first picked up The Catcher in the Rye when I was 13 years old. A girl in my grade and I happened to be making small talk outside of our school when she told me I should read it. At this time in my life I was a bit more unruly than Holden. I was into drugs, drinking, fighting, stealing, selling drugs, etc... I found myself able to thoroughly identify with him(I assumed the lack in his bad habits was due to the difference in time period, and that less was needed to seem so rebellious back then). Having said all that, I went through psychiatrists, psycholigists, dentention centers, courts, psychiatric hospitals, etc... All of these people and places were constantly trying to figure out some label that they could pin on me. Many of them did come up with one, but never the same as another. It happened so frequently that I began to wonder if they were the ones with the issues. I figured that they HAD to come up with something to call me in order to keep from feeling as though they had failed. In the end, what actually helped me was God and my family. Now this is not some Crusade to get others to trust in God. It is simply an example of how poorly our understanding of psychology is. It shows how we are all still trying to find some sort of quick fix to our problems. We have come to a place where we would rather give a child zoloft, prozac, or paxil instead of care, support, or our attention. I believe that there are many ways to discern what is going on with a child, I just don't think they are easy enough or profitable enough for any large amount of people in our society to seek them out. And so, I suppose there will just be more forums about how we can put some form of psychiatric name/shackle on our fictional characters..... Because hey, why should they be left out?

-Kyle K.

And by the way, I am 24 years old now, and haven't touched drugs in 7 years. I work with developmentally disabled people, which I find quite rewarding. I am also engaged to a wonderful girl and we are expecting our first child. What kind of label do I get now?

I would have to agree with kyle above. I think rather than diagnose Holden with a disorder or imbalance Holden really needs just to talk about his life.

The death of Allie plays a large role in the book, and I think if Holden was to talk about his loss and how it affected him he could solve quite a few of his diagnosable problems.

Take for example, Holden's deep belief that everyone in the world is a huge "Phoney". Many times Holden thinks people are being arrogent or obnoxious, I think this could stem from wanting people to understand him and think more like he does than an underlying need for a prescription.