Holden Caulfield's Depression

Words: 943
Pages: 4

It’s estimated that 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Depression is defined as a mood disorder in which the sufferer experiences persistent feelings of sadness and lack of desire to engage in activities which were formerly pleasurable. In the novel, The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, the protagonist Holden Caulfield gets expelled from his school and spends the following weekend in New York City. Throughout the story, Holden exhibits symptoms of depression which can be contributed to his environment, actions, and thoughts.
Holden Caulfield’s environment makes him depressed. The relationship he has with his parents is less than satisfactory. He describes his mother as being “nervous as hell” (158) and “very hysterical”
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He talks excessively about dying, wanting to die, or being dead. For instance, after Stradlater hits Holden during their fight, Holden says, “[Stradlater] probably was scared he’d fractured my skull or something when I hit the floor. It’s too bad I didn’t” (45). In this instance, he’s talking about wanting to die in a passive way. It shows that some of his negativity might not all be from his conscious mind. His first reaction is wanting to die, which is a clear sign of depression. During his bouts of deep depression, he becomes delusional. He starts talking to his late brother out loud. Another detail that’s concerning is his outlook on life. “Oh, I feel some concerns for my future, all right...But not too much, I guess” (14). Not caring about the future coupled with suicidal thoughts is a recipe for disaster. He also judges people harshly and calls them “phonies” even if they haven’t actually done anything to him. The term “phony” appears 49 times throughout the course of the novel. In his fantasy, he says, “I’d have this rule that nobody could do anything phony when they visited me. If anybody tried to do anything phony, they couldn’t stay” (205). Having an immediate negative attitude towards almost every person he sees is a major reason why his relationships are …show more content…
Relationships are hard for Holden, partially because he has trouble relating to others by his nature, and partially because he purposely isolates himself from others. Isolation by an external source is a risk factor for depression, while isolation by choice is a symptom of depression. Holden experiences both of these examples. His thoughts are also key in his depression, as he has a negative outlook on life. All of these factors heavily contribute to Holden’s