Examples Of Ptsd In Catcher In The Rye

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In The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the reader listens in on a psychologist’s appointment with Holden Caulfield, who is telling the psychologist about events leading up to something happening before Christmas. Through the event, the reader can begin to notice how Holden is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and how he really cannot fit back into society. Unlike most cases of post-traumatic stress, Holden did not go to war or was a victim or rape; he was merely a witness to a death. By combining Salinger’s book and the second and third chapters of Dr. Judith Lewis Herman’s book: Trauma and Recovery, the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder on Holden will become more clear and proven. Holden, also, has other diagnoses …show more content…
PTSD is when a traumatic event(s) make a person unable to reenter into society. Holden is affected by trauma to the point not being able to adapt himself to living in a world where he has experienced these events. The trauma stopped him from living his life; so, looking into the diagnoses of PTSD is a given. One of the beginning parts of Trauma is the traumatic events itself. There is no way to measure the effect of a traumatic event, but Herman says: “Certain identifiable experiences increase the likelihood of harm. These include being taken by surprise.” (Herman 34) So, one of the ways that the intensity of post-traumatic stress disorder can be increased by the element of surprise. When a person is taken by surprise by an event they are not mentally prepared for their reaction to an event will be worse than a person who was prepared. Salinger tells of the traumatic event in Holden’s life rather late in the book, but the idea that it was a surprise to Holden was very apparent. Holden explains the scene like this: “I thought something fell out the window…not a boy or anything. Then I heard everybody running through the corridor there was old James Castle…” (Salinger 170) This quote shows that Holden had no idea that he would find a body on the steps outside his school when he came down the stairs. He was not mentally prepared to see that. This shows that his post-traumatic …show more content…
Constriction is when a person turns off their emotions and reaction to an event. They dissociate themselves from the event, but not everyone is about to do so. Herman says, “Traumatized people who cannot spontaneously dissociate may attempt to produce similar numbing effect by using alcohol or narcotics.” (Herman, 44) In simpler terms, those who cannot turn off their emotions choose to get “help” through the use of alcohol and/or narcotics. Therefore, they are constricting themselves from emotions they do not want to feel. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is shown, both, drinking and smoking cigarettes. Holden told the reader, “I’m quite a heavy smoker.” (Salinger, 5) And he is written smoking thought out most of the book. In addition to smoking, he is, also, shown trying to get alcohol or drinking. Though out all of chapter twenty (Salinger 149-157), Holden is getting drunk, he tells the reader, “I kept sitting there getting drunk.” (Salinger 149) and “I sat at that goddam bar till around one o’clock or so, getting drunk as a bastard.” (Salinger 150) There are a plethora of other examples of showing how Holden numbs himself using alcohol and/or cigarettes. He is showing his need for the traumatic events to be pushed back and his emotions to be turned off, and his way of getting rid of them is through help from

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