Schizophrenia; An Open Book

1337 Words 6 Pages
From J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye comes forth the timeless protagonist,

Holden Caulfield. To some, the perplexing anomalies of his character remain a

captivating mystery, but to others, such as psychoanalysts, Holden Caulfield is an open

book. By carefully observing his social quirks and inward thoughts, psychoanalysts can

make a conclusion about his psyche. Specifically, through his lack of social contact,

occasional mood swings, and paranoia among other things, anyone looking through a

psychoanalytic lens could conclude that Holden Caulfield is schizophrenic.

The psychoanalytic lens is one of many ways to observe a work of literature. By

using this lens, psychoanalysts observe the special behaviors of a
…show more content…
Meanwhile, Holden believes that the world is completely bisected into the

innocent and the corrupted, this is apparent in his obsession with “phonies”. Furthermore,

he also believes that he can prevent grey areas from occurring; affectively preventing

children from becoming adults by “catching” them as they fall from a perilous cliff

(Salinger 173). Holden has molded his life around this fantasy and fails to realize that

nothing can prevent children from one day becoming adults. These thoughts that seem

realistic and attainable to him are merely the products of his schizophrenic psyche.

Holden’s obsession with the theme of innocence versus corruption connects to

schizophrenia in more ways than one. Ronald D. Laing’s theory proposes that

schizophrenia is not an illness per say, rather it is a logical reaction of an individual to a

corrupted society. Holden’s lament of his obviously corrupted world is further indication

to his schizophrenia, even if it is a rational reaction and not a disease.

More evidence of Holden’s inability to distinguish reality from fantasy is in his

episodic flights of fancy. After his confrontation with Maurice, the elevator man, and

Sunny, a prostitute, he imagines, “coming out of the goddam bathroom, dressed and all,

with my automatic in my pocket,” and proceeding to, “hold onto the banister and all,

with this blood trickling out of the side of my mouth,” and later, in the episode, he would
Open Document