Is Holden mentally ill? Holden is the protagonist in the book, “The Catcher in the Rye”. He is a sixteen years age boy. He’s attending at school away from his family which makes him to do certain things that he shouldn’t. It seems he doesn’t like anyone, he has a mean language, he considers everyone as phonies. He hates everything around him. But there’s one thing he would like do which is to be The Catcher in the Rye.
It means that he would like catch people if they go over a cliff. He imagines to be the guard in a Rye field and save people. Throughout the story Holden presents certain symptoms of mental illnesses. Specifically, he presents symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). He abuses the use of alcohol and drugs, he has depression, and suicide thoughts which are symptoms of the mental illness mentioned above.
The “abuse of alcohol and drugs” is one of the symptoms of Borderline personality disorder. People who have BPD are more likely to involve in drug or alcohol consumption as an attempt to relieve the pain. Holden presents this problem throughout the story. For example when he says “then I lit another cigarette-it was my last one. I must’ve smoked about three cartons that day” (p. 161).
The use of drugs and alcohol is the most dangerous symptoms of BPD, and it is the most noticeable on Holden. Apparently, alcohol and cigarettes is always in his mind. Holden mentions many times that he is smoking or drinking, he has no control to consume it. Another instance when Holden express, “there wasn’t anything to do except smoke and drink” (p.86).
Holden Caulfield uses smoking and drinking as an escape from his stressful life which is a sign of BPD. When Holden is depressed and doesn’t not have anything to do, he mostly smoke or drink. Even though it is illegal for his age, Holden mostly spend his money on cigarettes, drinks and at the bars he goes. Holden has a severe drinking problem.
People with BPD often suffer from “depression”. The depression keep people away from happiness. People with depression loss the interest in activities which is exactly what’s happening to Holden. When Holden says, “I know you’re supposed to feel pretty sexy when somebody gets up and pulls their dress over their head, but I didn’t. Sexy was about the last thing I was feeling. I felt much more depressed than sexy”. This shows that Holden has a lack of pleasure. Even though he wants to do something, but at the time he doesn’t because it bores him.
Moreover, when Holden declares, “then I went over and laid down on Ely’s bed. Boy, I feel rotten. I felt so damn lonesome” (p.48). Depression makes Holden feel to give up. Living with careless parents and having not many friends are factors that lead to feel lonesome. As a result, Holden is depressed all the time. The depression makes him not to be happy, not having friends and easily gets into problems.
Another symptom of Borderline personality disorder is “self-injury” which is intend suicide or complete suicide. Suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury are typical in BPD. Suicidal self-injury is usually seems as a depressive disorder.
Holden presents and he also says that he has depression. When Holden addresses, “Anyway, I’m sort of glad they’ve got the atomic bomb invented. If there’s ever another war, I’m going to sit right the hell on top. I will volunteer for it, I swear to God I will”( p. 141). Holden wants to be the first to die. Holden thinks about death because he wants to escape from the problems in his life. At that particular time the impression of dying was the only way out of the problems.
To conclude, the distance between Holden and his family, the death of Holden’s brother changed his life. It is being difficult for him to recover and it is affecting his mind. Holden illness couldn’t get serious if his parents pay attention to him. His illness is preventable. BPD can be treated with psychotherapy, medications and of course family support.
The consumption of drugs, alcohol and intent to suicide are the causes of depression. If he is not depressed, he wouldn’t do or think all this things, if his parents spend time with him, as well. Of course, he should try to change but he doesn’t show any desire to do so. Therefore, Holden is experiencing these symptoms and living with this mental illness.