Mental illness and Mental Disorders in Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in four American adults suffer from a mental disorder. This means that 57.7 out of 217.8 million people over the age of 18 are ill; never mind that mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability in Canada and the United States. Holden Caulfield, the controversial main character of J.D Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye, spends much of the book wandering through the streets of New York City. Kicked out of boarding school for the umpteenth time, he does many odd things: he calls a prostitute, tries to befriend a taxi driver, drinks with middle aged women, and sneaks into his own house in the middle of the night. While many of these things seem outré, some may even go as…show more content…
I was so damn worried, that’s why. When I really worry about something, I don’t just fool around” (Salinger 40). Holden is trying adamantly to retain the delicate details Stradlater’s post-date escapades, but he just does not know for sure what took place. He also mentions being “damn worried”; this leads the reader to believe that he may be suffering from acute anxiety as well. Lastly, Holden shows avoidance in his measures. Holden is afraid to grow up, because he feels that when someone is rushed into maturity, bad things happen. Holden was forced to grow up when he lost Allie, and this makes his believe that “ignorance is bliss”, and that it is better to lie to yourself and to be a child forever than to grow up and experience pain. “It is only in Holden Caulfield’s unique world that ducks brave the winter or are hauled in trucks to zoos. It should strike the most casual observer that Holden Caulfield frequently exhibits naiveté” (Foran 977). Holden likes to believe that a perfect, idealistic life can be achieved. He is scarred psychiatrically by his traumatic childhood, and he just wants to be normal. “You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?” I realized it was only one chance in a million” (Salinger 60). In this prominent passage, Holden is asking the strange taxi driver about the ducks in
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