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Holden Caulfield: A Psychiatrist's Diagnosis - With A Free Essay Review



The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Holden Caulfield finds himself upset with society. Holden represents an intimate portrait of a disturbed teenage boy. He faces universal problems that all teenagers face throughout time, like disillusion with the world, sexual confusion, aggressive behavior, loss of childhood innocence and self-loathing.

The biggest strain on Holden, is the loss of his brother, Allie which is leading Holden down a spiral of depressive thoughts and illogical behaviour. It is the death of his brother which fuels his desire to save children from growing up and becoming corrupt. Holden uses his brother as a model for innocence. He also disliked his parents. He believes they are phonies and that they neglected him. This is because they send him to many different private schools and do not supply him with the love and affection he needs. Holden has either been expelled from or has run away from these schools. The only person he seems to have a connection with is his little sister, Phoebe.

Throughout the story, Holden is constantly remarking that something is making him depressed or that he is feeling lonely. In many instances, he fails to go outside himself and achieve even the simplest goals. His turning to alcohol and smoking packs of cigarettes for comfort, which is a common avenue favored by people suffering from depression. We cannot assume that this is normal behavior at all, every patient is different, but his depression and hatred to the world and its ''phonies'' goes on for so long, that he even wishes he was dead. Suicidal thoughts start to creep up on Holden's twisted mind. After the ordeal he had with the prostitute, Holden looks at the balcony window, imagining what would happen if he jumped out, riding himself from this corrupt world.

His "out of the box" dreams and fantasies tend to frighten those who he enlighten with. On his date with Sally, a friend of his, Holden starts to revel some of his true colours and intension. This is good for anyone to say what is truly on their mind, and to express their feelings, but his degree. His ''future plans'' were exposed to this delusional girl who could do nothing more than blink twice, to make sure she is in the same room as Holden. Another one of his fantasies was reviled to his little sister Phoebe. He pictured himself on the edge of a rye hill, full of children playing around blindly. He said that he would catch the ones who fell off. He would be the catcher in the rye. Personally I was taken aback by all of his dreams. He had a sense of maturity about him now, that it is hard to think a year ago he was this ticking time bomb.

He had a very narrow vision of the world. In his eyes, everyone is a "phony" to him and he never realizes the good in anyone. He believed that all children were pure because the saw the world with no bias, but when you grew up, you will be bombarded by corruption. Holden does not have any friends and cannot keep relationships. This is because he finds and exaggerates any negative aspect of all the people he knows or meets. This can be seen when Holden cannot keep his relationship with his girlfriend Sally. Holden also rebels because he feels that all adults are phonies. Holden believes that these phonies are people who try to be something that they are not. Usually the mark of a phony is the desire for material goods. This is because people usually want these possessions in order to impress others and become something they are not. This is why Holden can only connect with his younger sister Phoebe. On the other hand his older brother D.B. is a prime example of a phony. This is because D.B. was a writer, who became a playwright in order to gain more public recognition.

Ah, Corruption, or as Holden may call ''Phony'', he believes that this gas ball plant is full of corruption and false dreams. Your childhood memories will be shattered by the coming of adulthood. Around every corner Holden sees corruption. It's Christmas time, and all you should see is holiday decorations and splendors, yet the real world surrounds you with a view of drunks, perverts, moron and screwballs. But not all of Holden's encounters lead up to a conclusion of false judgement or hierocracy. The biggest sign of change in Holden is the exchange with Mr. Antolini. When he was patting Holden on the head , Holden pass him on as a ''flitty'', as he jumps up and bolted out of the house. For the first time, Holden does not sum up Mr. Antolini as a homosexual, but he considers a positive point of view. This change helps lead Holden on the road to recover.

Now, I know you are waiting for me to pass on the happy pills for Holden, so you could go on with your lives, and put this whole ordeal behind you. I wish I could give you a clear diagnosis on, but I can't. Holden must find himself, so that he can start to rebuild himself. What I can do, is pass on some words of wisdom to you two, his parents. For the first time in your damn life's, try to connect with your son. He's just a lonely kid.

They did studies on monkeys, completely isolating them socially for a long time. After a while, when a hungry monkey was provided the options of food or a snuggly monkey-shaped stuffed animal, the lonely monkeys ALWAYS chose the stuffed companion.

Humans are the same way.

Holden Caulfield's brother died and you guys reacted by sending him away to school after school. He hasn't formed any real relationships with anyone. Heck, he begins by explaining how the entire fencing team were all angry at him for forgetting the equipment. This is a kid who's not only lonely, but hated.

He's like a monkey in one of those isolation cages, reaching out to whatever comfort he has. The hunting cap is one of those comforts. And he reaches out to other people, even ones he doesn't like that much, for another comfort. Heck, he goes into a pay phone booth and stands there, staring at the phone, but can't think of anyone to call. He couldn't even connect to his own parents. So no, this kid isn't insane. If you listen to his story, not through his eyes but through your own eyes, the behaviors start making sense.

___________________________________________

ESSAY REVIEW

Perhaps more or less everyone knows who Holden Caulfield is, but you should still identify the novel and its author at the outset. But only do that if you are writing about the novel. You start out as though you were writing an essay about J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, but you end up as though you are writing a letter, or delivering a lecture, to the parents of the fictional character (it doesn’t really look at all, I’m sorry to say, like a psychiatrist’s diagnostic report). You really need to chose which one of these two things you want to do, because they are not compatible with each other. I suggest you drop the lecture to the parents and perhaps turn the argument you make in those final paragraphs into the thesis of your essay proper. I suggest that because your essay doesn't really have an argument to make; it's largely descriptive. You do make a series of claims about Holden's character, but they serve no purpose other than leading up to the remarks directed at the parents.

Aside from making your essay more coherent (by making it an essay or a sermon, but not both) and aside from giving your essay a central purpose (in the form of a thesis about the meaning of the novel, say), you also need to improve the clarity of your writing. It's hard to know what to make, for instance, of a phrase such as "who he enlighten with" or your reference to a "gas ball plant" (perhaps you meant "planet," but then why call it a "gas ball" one). Careful proofreading will probably help you avoid these kinds of problems, and other odd errors (e.g., "reviled" for "revealed," and "hierocracy" for ?).

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: Ali
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