What is Wrong With Holden?

Holden's Diagnosis: mild PTSD linked with mild depression. Unable to find his way in life to due the fact that his parents send him to boarding school causing him to loose contact with people (such as his sister) he keeps close to his heart.

What is PTSD?
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is an anxiety disorder caused by a variety of factors, many of which are usually traumatizing. PTSD can occur right after the event, or it may surface later on in life, depending on the person. There is no age group which PTSD is limited too, and children have been known to have PTSD as well as adults. Although anxiety caused by trauma is natural in human behavior, very traumatizing or life changing events can cause this illness, which is actually very serious. PTSD has only been diagnosed recently, occurring in the year 1980.

Symptoms of PTSD:
  • Flashbacks of emotional or traumatizing event, or feeling like the event is happening again
  • Feeling alone
  • Emotional, usually angry, outbursts
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty with communication
  • Feeling constant worry, guilt, anxiety, depression, frustration, or sadness

  • most commonly recommended is therapy (psycho-analyzation)
  • medication
Book References:
Holden has been through various traumatizing events that can potentially cause the disease PTSD, and it is probable he has this disease due to the fact that his behavior throughout the book demonstrates various symptoms of the disease. When describing Allie's death, Holden says "I was only thirteen, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage. I don't blame them." (39.2) Holden has constant memories of Allie in his everyday life, and he relives the night of Allie's death through a flashback to the reader. Holden lost his younger brother and this loss was very traumatizing to him; he broke his hand because he was so upset. Traumatizing emotional experiences are the leading cause of this disease. Holden also often has angry and emotional outbursts, which are symptoms of the disease. When Stradlater makes a crack about Jane, Holden suddenly attempts to punch him, thinking to himself "Id've killed him" (43.36) if he had connected. Holden demonstrates further emotional outbursts when he begins to cry while leaving Pencey, even though he hates the school, and when he is robbed by Maurice he begins to cry as well. He is so upset he is almost suicidal, only deciding not to jump for a petty reason. Holden also exhibits a high amount of frustration, even over little things such as movies, commenting "the goddam movies. They can ruin you. I'm not kidding." (140.23) . The view Holden has of his life in general also suggests he has PTSD. He constantly remarks throughout the book that things, no matter how small or irrelevant, "depress the hell" out of him or make him feel really sad, which are the common moods associated with PTSD. Also, the reader is aware the Holden is in a hospital receiving "psychotherapy," which is the most recommended treatment for patients with PTSD. The symptoms of this illness would explain Holden's repeated failings of school and having difficulties communicating with his family. In addition to this, the fact that Holden does not really have friends at school and feels as though he is not really close to anybody might greatly contribute to the depression and sadness he is feeling, which might make him care even less about doing well in school.
Today, doctors would most likely treat Holden in a similar way, and might also give Holden medication to take. Based on the causes and treatments of the disease, it would seem that the best thing for his parents to do would be firstly have Holden see a therapist to help him work through his emotions, as they did in the book, and also to maybe pull Holden out of boarding school and let him attend a school while still living at home. Holden is very close to his little sister, and his relationship with her is obviously important to him. If he lived at home, he would feel as if he was actually surrounded by others that really cared about him, and his mood and concentration might improve. If he lived at home, he could visit places which meant a lot to him such as the museum or the zoo. Sometime just visiting places which mean a lot to you can be very soothing.
  • Just as a side note, below are the five stages of grief. Holden experienced a remarkable loss, and depression is one of the stages. Depression is also a large factor in PTSD.Manic Depression
- Denial
- Anger
- Bargaining
- Depression
- Acceptance

Citations:__http://www.va.gov/__ __http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Veterans_Affairs__