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Catcher In The Rye Psychiatric Analysis English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1982 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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At the time of telling his story, Holden is in a patient in a mental hospital. He is telling his story to an unnamed listener. Pretend that you are a highly respected psychiatrist who is listening to Holden’s account. It is your responsibility to write a report on the mental stability of patient to determine whether or not he is fit for release. Below this is the standard psychiatric report sheet that you must fill out to examine Holden’s state of mind. Your evidence must be well documented and complete. Refer to specific incidences. You will need to research emotional depression, its causes, effects and treatments. (You might try searching ‘manic behavior”.) Account for the possible causes of Holden’s breakdown and suggest possible treatments. Remember, a person’s freedom depends on your professional judgment.

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Holden’s father is a lawyer who. He seems to be rather strict and very interested in appearances he shows this by making sure that Holden stays in exclusive prep schools, whether he has to to be or not. He never got to know Holden because of this. His mother is mentioned as being “nervous as hell”, having frequent headaches and sitting up smoking most nights. All of it is blamed on her never getting over Allie’s death. Holden never got to know his parents because he was for the most part sent to boarding schools. He never had a chance at developing a healthy relationship with his parents. Holden’s family is obviously very important to him. At the beginning of his account he begins with talking about his parents and his brother. Holden negatively criticizes them to conceal the fact that he truly loves them. Holden is constantly being sent from one boarding school to a new. The emotional distance between him and his parents strengthens his general alienation from everyone.


2. Sibling Relationships / Rivalries

He has a good relationship with his sister, Phoebe. He loves his sister and admires her. He wants to protect Phoebe from the cruel world. Phoebe understands what Holden is talking about and what he is going through. Holden feels the constant need to protect her from the “cruel world’ around her. Phoebe is concerned about Holden’s future and what will happen to him when their dad finds out Holden got kicked out of boarding school (pg 164 Salinger). When Holden is going to run away to the west, she tells him that if he goes, she will too (pg 207 Salinger). After this Holden seems to be able to grasp the reality that she will be destroying her life if she runs with him, and decides that he will go home with her. This is the only time that Holden put another person ahead of himself and acknowledge that he has the capacity to change the lives of others. This judgment of his shows that there may be hope that Holden has the capability to heal into a fully functioning adult subsequently to his re-entry into the world after exiting the mental hospital.

Holden’s rendering of his account also tells a lot of about the way he thinks about Allie: he idealizes him. According to Holden, he’s the most intelligent, nicest, sweetest, most endearing kid with the best sense of humor you’ll ever meet (pg 38 Salinger). In Holden’s love for his brother and in his pain over Allie’s death, Holden has glorified Allie into something of a saint. This makes sense when we think about Holden’s mindset. Allie died when he was eleven years old – while he was still a child, and still “innocent.” Having never been corrupted by the world of sex and adults, Allie is possibly the only person Holden could catch in a field of rye, the only person who never has to “go over the edge” of the great cliff. This is why, when Phoebe asked Holden to name one thing he likes, he responds with “Allie.”(pg 171 Salinger)

D.B. is Holden’s older brother is a screenwriter in Hollywood. He used to write great stories – so great, in fact, that Holden credits him (twice) with being his favorite writer. D.B. is also the height of phoniness in Holden’s mind because he’s sacrificed his art (writing stories) for money (writing screenplays for Hollywood). Holden recounts a flash back of When D.B. came back from the army D.B. says that the army is full of traitors. Holden then adds his own opinion about the army which is very similar to D.B. This was one of the very few moments they ever bonded.

3. Relationship with peers

Holden does not have a good association with his friends He frequently feels perplexed and lonely because he has no friends. He passes judgment on his roommates, Ackley and Stradlater when he was at Pencey. He hates Stradlater and feels jealous of him. He feels sorry for Ackley, even though they are both similar. Holden considers that all everyone around him are phony. He feels strong resentment against everyone and he does not know how to develop a healthy relationship with other people. He feels alienated or excluded from society because he never had a chance to develop his social skills because he always was being shipped to different boarding schools. Not have the chance to make new friends

4. Sexuality / Physical maturity

Holden is not ready for sex. He is interested about sex, but he is not emotionally ready for sex. When Sunny the prostitute came by (pg 93 Salinger), he did not desire to have sex. He felt distress when he heard that Stradlater might have sex with Jane. He does not think that there


should be casual sex between two people. He feels that sex should take place when two people are in love. even though Holden is struggling to hold on to his innocence, he is preoccupied by the thought of sex.

He believes you should not be intimate with a girl unless you know her very well and like her a lot. He sees this belief as a weakness. When Stradlater takes out Jane, his childhood friend, Holden becomes more than just jealous he becomes enraged at the thought that Stradlater may “give her the time” even though this is their first date. He is also disturbed by the fact that he is aroused by women he does not care for, such as the blonde tourist he dances with in the Lavender Room or Sally Hayes, who he wants to run away and get married to. However, she is not into the idea and probably scared off by his advances. Nothing about Holden’s way of thinking is logical at this point in his recount.

5. Attitude too authority

Holden applies the term “phony” not to people who are insincere but to those who are too conventional or too typical, for instance, individuals who dress and behave like the other members of their social class. While Holden exploits the label “phony” to imply that such people are superficial, his use of the term in fact indicates that his own perceptions of other people are superficial. In almost every case, he rejects more complex conclusions in favor of simple categorical ones.

6. Philosophy of life

He is a confused teenager, overly sensitive to the normal compromises of the adult world (which he insists on calling phony) and unable to reconcile himself to the fact that life is neither black nor white, but primarily a basic gray. I don’t think Holden is able to determine what he believes and so calls himself a “sort of atheist,” emphasizing not so much belief or disbelief, but rather his inability to distinguish between the two. Holden’s outlook on life reflects Holden’s current dilemma in that Holden is now unidentified of society and fights corrupt “phonies.”, the sum of such a traumatic history results in negative impact on Holden’s mental health as he becomes misplaced and roams about the streets.


Having dark thoughts as he searches without end and pointlessly for stability in life and ultimate finds himself on the brink of emotional breakdown.

7. Use of language / attention span / consistency of thought

Holden’s language typically stays away offensive and obscene. On every occasion he says words like “ass,” it is merely teenage dialect for a part of the human anatomy. He does not say it to be offensive. “Ass” is simply another word Holden uses to better convey ideas. His vocabulary contains many words that are religious but are not used that way. He uses words that pertain to the divine such as “God’s sake,” “God” and “goddam,” however, he never means it in a profane manner. They are just parts of his

speech. He uses those words casually when referring to his “goddam hunting cap” or saying somebody is a “goddam moron.” Even though Holden is not too religious, he never uses “Chrissake” unless he is depressed or enraged.

Holden has a very short attention span and cannot or does not want to focus on details. He changes subjects quickly and has difficulty focusing on one thing at times. Holden clearly states that he finds it hard concentrating during his discussion with Phoebe about what he likes in life, “I couldn’t concentrate too hot. Sometimes it’s hard thinking.” (pg 169 Salinger)

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Holden is trying to reinforce his values. Holden repeatedly comments on his hatred toward phonies. That is one thing that Holden hates more than almost anything. That could be the reason he frequently confirms a statement with “I really do,” “It really does,” or “if you want to know the truth.” He also confirms comments by repeating them twice like “She likes me a lot. I mean she’s quite fond of Me.” He uses different phrases and styles to give a more truthful backing to his comments, as a result preventing himself from seeming like a phony.


8. Conclusion (explanation, rationale, and recommendations)

In my best judgment as a psychiatrist I believe that Holden is not ready for release due to his unstable psychological state. After evaluating his account I believe Holden is suffering from Posttraumatic stress disorder from the traumatizing events during his child hood such as his Classmate jumping out a window and his brother Allie, dying from leukemia. I also believe he is suffering from Gerontophobia which is the fear of growing up which he constantly shows as he tries to protect his childhood innocence from society. He shows signs of ADH as he changes topics quite frequently during his account and states that he finds concentrating difficult. He is a Pathological liar because he constructs a perfect world around him where he never loses his innocence and tries to protect children from the dangers of the adult world. He constantly defends his reality when it is challenged, such as when Phoebe challenges him and his perfect world he does not listen to her reasoning and does not listen to her. He is also showing signs of Major depressive disorder he shows this through his irritability, and his moods change very quickly. He also hates to focus on details, and spent time thinking over them. Most importantly at one point in his recount he had thoughts of suicide. The final psychological problem he has is Bipolar disorder because he did rarely sleep; he was highly irritable and had suicidal ideation.

In order to treat Holden’s psychological problems I would suggest individual and family counseling with his parents in order to cure his alienation from society.


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