Schizophrenia; An Open Book

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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 character to further explain or justify the character’s actions. A psychoanalyst usually links behaviors to symptoms of a kind of disease and diagnoses the character. In Holden’s case, things like an inability to socialize, substance abuse, and paranoia are symptoms that link him to a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Holden Caulfield, growing from 16 to 17 years old, is on the cusp of adulthood (Salinger 9). This makes Holden more likely to have schizophrenia. Schizophrenia, before modern science, was referred to as adolescent insanity because it is most likely to appear in young adults and teens (Abramovitz 14). Aside from his behavioral characteristics, his age even places him as a likely candidate for schizophrenia. The most distinguishing characteristic of all types of schizophrenia is an inability to distinguish reality from fantasy (Abramovitz 12). This is manifest in Holden’s dogged insistence on a stark dichotomy of the world. In reality, society is dominate... ... middle of paper ... ...l have to spend time in a hospital or psychiatric center in order to come to terms with his disease. Medication is often helpful and needs to be taken daily. Holden must relearn the skills of everyday living in order to compensate for his unsociability. Rehabilitation is best achieved through the reduction of stress in everyday life. Unfortunately there is no permanent cure for schizophrenia, but, in an optimal case, Holden can reenter society even with his mental illness. Works Cited Abramovitz, Melissa. Diseases and Disorders: Schizophrenia. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2002. Print. Colman, Andrew M. Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print. Laing, Ronald D. The Divided Self. New York: Pantheon Books, 1969. Print. Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1951. Print.
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