Psychoanalysis of Holden Caulifield
Through life we all experience events both physically and emotionally destructive causing us to feel down, but most of us bounce back. These feelings are a part of life. Holden Caulifield comes off as a controlled, passive, typical teenager. As the story progress we learn he is far from it. Holden’s actions, thought process, his outlook on life and the way he grieves all suggest that he is suffering post traumatic stressed syndrome better known as PTSD.
PTSD, also known as disorder of extreme stress, is found among individuals exposed to prolonged traumatic circumstances especially during, childhood according to pyscholgytoday.com . Two specific events where Holden may have developed PTSD include, the passing of his younger brother, Allie, and Holden’s sighting of a gory suicide. PTSD is divided into three categories, one being reliving the past. Holden constantly reminisces on past occurrences and memories of Allie. While describing Allie’s death, Holden states “I was only 13, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke windows in the garage… I don’t blame them” (Salinger 39). From that, one can gather the loss of Allie was very traumatizing to him; traumatizing experiences are the leading cause of this disorder. Holden describes Allie, he boasts about his intelligence and how nice and kind hearted he was (Salinger 38). Evidently he was attached and loved his little brother dearly. One may have realized Holden is typically a critic and notices the flaws in others but, notice with Allie it is all compliments. While on a walk in the city, he prays for Allie to keep him from disappearing (Salinger 198). From that one can gather that Holden seems to use Allie’s memory as self-support and to calm himself. Aside from Allie, Holden reminisces and seems to miss the innocence and care free life as a child. There are several scattered examples that prove that Holden misses that life. In the conversation Holden holds with Phoebe, the topic being Holden’s plans for his future, he doesn’t give the typical answer of someone his age, such as “police officer” or “lawyer” but instead Holden says “a catcher in the rye”. Holden fears children falling off a cliff (adulthood). He wishes to protect and prolong the innocence of the children in the rye. He expresses this in the scene of the glass case in the museum. He states he wishes everything in life could be placed in a glass case and preserved, like in the museum (Salinger 122). He said that he wanted to place phoebe in the glass casing, while he speaks of preserving Phoebe’s childhood (Salinger 122). When Holden wants to escape the stress in living in the present day he gets drunk. When he speaks of the ducks and where they go is a piece of his obsession with the past. Holden knows the answer; he is trying to relive the innocence of a curious child. The second category of PTSD is detachment. Holden purposely alienates himself from others and doesn’t hold many close relationships. He displays lack of interest in his education. It is not straight forward, but Holden believes he has no future, does he even want one? Detachment is also represented when he fails out of every school he is sent to. He rebels against those who wish for him to have a decent life. Mr. Antolini was one of those who cares and stated “ the mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one” which Holden takes advantage of . Holden is particularly introverted (Salinger 188). He wanders the city, passing hundreds of by standards, he is still all alone. Sure he wants to talk to people but he doesn’t know how to hold a proper conversation. He is a constant critic of others actions although his actions make him come off as an arrogant pest, therefore Holden isolates himself. Agitation comes in as the third category. Holden exhibits large amounts of anger and...
Cited: Salinger. JD, The Catcher in the Rye, new York, little brown and company, 1946.
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