The Catcher In The Rye By J D English Literature Essay
In order to fully diagnose Holden, his background and family life must be examined. First of all, as mentioned before one of the main causes of Borderline Personality Disorder is abandonment in childhood or adolescence. This is the most evident cause that can be seen throughout the whole novel. Holden’s time is mostly spent by himself and he is forced to face reality on his own; he tries to hide the harsher parts of reality from being put into focus. This causes him to choose to only remember certain things. However the problem is that Holden isn’t facing reality. Although this may seem like a good thing in short term, it is impossible to hide from your past forever. Holden is sometimes confused about various situations and sometimes does not know what is going on. In addition, he does whatever he can to pretend he is a happy person, but the memories and troubles in his past tend to sneak up on him. This causes him to not realize how severe his problems are, and he tends to break down and become depressed even for insignificant reasons. It should also be noted that Holden has had traumatic events happen which disrupted his family life. One very evident example is his brother’s death when he was around fourteen years of age. Individuals who are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder are often affected by horrific events in their lifetime. Throughout the novel, Holden is constantly reflecting on memories of his younger brother Allie. So, it can be concluded that Holden has not fully recovered from his brother’s death, but he doesn’t want to be the only on still mourning. This is a major factor in the diagnosis of Holden. Furthermore, Holden also has a fairly addictive personality. When he finds something he really likes, he finds it rather hard to let go of, just like the memories of his brother Allie. He abuses alcohol, speaks extremely highly about his sister compared to the rest of the people around him, and he finds it difficult to change most of his old habits. All of these symptoms put together cause Holden to have several insecurities. These insecurities cause his relationships with others to be unstable, his self-image to be damaged, and his emotions to seem almost impossible to explain accurately. Holden is disturbed with the world around him and acts to convey to others his negative view of society. Although he is sometimes correct, it often seems that he is trying to worsen situations involving people he doesn’t like, possibly in an attempt to compensate for his own weaknesses. Holden’s view of others is one of the main causes as to why he is either loved or hated, sometimes both, but rarely in between. With all of these causes taken in to account, it almost unquestionably characterizes Mr. Caulfield with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Along with the causes of Borderline Personality Disorder, Holden Caulfield shows many symptoms of this disorder that need to be addressed. The first symptom of BPD that Holden demonstrates is suicidal behavior. One can never know if a suicide threat is serious or not, but they should never be taken lightly. While Holden is alone in a New York hotel room in chapter fourteen he says "What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would’ve done it, too, if I’d been sure somebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed." Although his reasoning as to why he didn’t jump out the window may be strange, it shows that he was able to control his actions in this particular situation, but may not be able to in future situations. In order to protect himself from causing harm to his body, his condition needs to be treated. Along with suicidal thoughts, Holden also demonstrates self-destructive behavior. In order to fuel his desire for having a bullet lodged into his stomach, Holden decides to drink alcohol. He tries to drink away his health and problems. Unfortunately, Holden has yet to realize that hiding from his problems behind alcohol will cause greater problems than before. He says "But I'm crazy. I swear to God I am. About halfway to the bathroom, I sort of started pretending I had a bullet in my gut...I was on the way to the bathroom to get a good shot of bourbon or something to steady my nerves and help me really go into action." This proves that Holden does not deal with his problems "head-on" but instead uses self-destructive behaviors to try to mask them. To add to the list of symptoms, he displays mood swings. The Mayo Clinic also adds that people with BPD often endure mood swings, causing them to be horribly depressed one moment and wonderfully happy the next. Holden, in a way probably not explainable to anyone else other than himself, became depressed by the simple thought of someone who likes to go to movies. This type of behavior is very common in individuals who are diagnosed with BPD. Shortly after being extremely depressed, Holden became rather happy after buying a record for his sister. He’s says in chapter sixteen, "I can understand somebody going to the movies because there’s nothing else to do, but when somebody really wants to go, and even walks fast so as to get there quicker, then it depresses the hell out of me… Boy, it made me so happy all of a sudden. I could hardly wait to get to the park to see if old Phoebe was around so I could give it to her." Also, Holden was very anxious to visit his old teacher, Mr. Spencer, in chapter one. After deciding to go visit him he states "I ran all the way to the main gate, and then I waited a second till I got my breath." Upon arriving and talking to Mr. Spencer in chapter two, Holden has a change of heart. "All of a sudden then, I wanted to get the hell out of the room." In addition, Holden frequently suffers from delusional thoughts which fill his mind with bizarre images and are often hostile. "I pictured myself coming out of the goddam bathroom, dressed and all, with my automatic in my pocket, and staggering around a little bit… with this blood trickling out of the side of my mouth a little at a time …holding onto my guts, blood leaking all over the place." These delusions in chapter fourteen could be consequences of bad childhood memories or the ideas from a disturbed mind. Later he says, "‘I pulled the old peak of my hunting hat around to the front… that way, I couldn’t see a goddam thing. I think I’m going blind,’ I said in this very hoarse voice. ‘Mother darling, everything’s getting so dark in here.’ " Although he claims to just be horsing around, these actions are not typical of the ‘average’ adolescent and have a high probability of stemming from a bad childhood memory. The last symptom he displays is intense fear of abandonment. As stated before Holden has a rather addictive personality. While talking to one of his old friends Sally, after skating with her, Holden tells her about his feeling for her. ""You know something?" I said. "You’re probably the only reason I’m in New York right now, or anywhere. If you weren’t around, I’d probably be someplace way the hell off. In the woods or some goddam place. You’re the only reason I’m around, practically.’" Holden feels as though Sally is the most important thing in his life, but strangely enough has not talked to her in a long time. Holden is also afraid of leaving the place where he has spent most all of his time at recently. After getting kicked out of Pencey Prep, Holden won’t leave until he is able to admit to himself that he is in fact no longer able to stay. He mentions, "What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse." This is very strange for Holden to admit. Throughout the entire novel, it almost seems like he is trying to run away from society and the things around him. But here he in a sense recognizes this as a positive impact on his life, and doesn’t want to leave.
The treatment plan based on the strategy outlined by the National Alliance on Mental Health is as follows; First of all, Holden needs to stick with the treatment plan and needs to understand that if he is going to get better, then he is going to have to follow this plan. Second, Holden must attend therapy. Studies have shown that this is the best way in order to solve most personality disorders similar to BPD. Professional therapists know what they are doing and can help Holden in ways he otherwise would never have known about. Next, probably one of the most important steps in this whole process is that he needs to find a positive way to vent painful emotions. It is clear that abusing alcohol and contemplating death are not going to help him get better. Doing positive things will help Holden to forget about his problems and enjoy himself. To someone with BPD, having something to do that temporarily relieves stress and depression can make all the difference between overcoming their problems and having their life thrown away from unbearable emotions. Fourth, Holden needs to recognize the responsibility to get treated, and Holden cannot blame himself or anyone else for his problems because they are not anyone’s fault but unfortunately still exist. He needs to recognize that in order to feel better about himself, and needs to take charge and help himself by getting help from others. Next, he needs to stop drinking. One of the worst things you can do while you are depressed or not feeling well mentally is to drink. The only thing that can come out of this situation is dependency and worse emotions after the effects of the alcohol have worn off. Then, he needs to educate himself and realize that knowledge is power. The more he knows about his disorder the more he can control the situation and come out better off than when he began. Holden needs to do some research on his problems and fully comprehend them as it is nearly impossible to fix something which is not understood. Finally, Mr. Caulfield needs to reach out to others. Talking to others with similar problems is going to help him overcome his issues. Getting a different perspective on the same thing will allow for him to think about things with a different mindset and possibly fight through his problems in new ways. Not only is that helping others who are in the same situations as he is, but is shown to be one of the most satisfying things someone can do.
In conclusion, if Holden is not treated for his case of Borderline Personality disorder than he is going to continue to live in a world where he is completely confused about who he really is. He will suffer from delusional thoughts which will further separate him from reality. His drinking will most likely catch up to him and he will possibly become an alcoholic. Also, Holden’s feelings of emptiness and abandonment will leave him emotionally scared and cause happiness to become out of his reach. His pattern of unstable relationships will cause loneliness, which will increase his problems further. If his suicidal thoughts don’t fall through, then his risky behaviors most likely will. Our outlook on life shows others who we really are, and if Holden continues pointing out all the negatives in society then the negatives are going to consume who he is. This consumption will probably push him over the edge. Holden will be able to help himself if he reaches out to his family, and sticks with his outlined treatment plan. In addition, his family members will need to support and offer guidance throughout the process, to prevent a relapse.