Mental Illness and Death in The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Sallinger

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Tamara Hill, a specialist in adolescent mental health once said: “The presuming social view that mental health is not as serious as the media says it is, blocks progress...”. Some people think that mental illness can be taken lightly, when in reality, its quite the opposite; Mental illness can cause children and adolescents in particular to act strangely, commit crime or hurt themselves just to name a few things. A good example of how mental illness affects teenagers can be seen in the main character, Holden Cauffield, of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Holden's erratic behavior is a result of the mental illness Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, resulting from his brother's death. This can be diagnosed because of how tragic his …show more content…
The circumstances and emotions that come along with calamities such as this could easily take their tole on someone and make them relive the event or feel helpless or disconnected, common symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Holden clearly demonstrates symptoms that are prominent in people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For example, people diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly show: “ Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were reoccurring...” (“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”). Events that give people this illness are traumatic enough to stay with this person throughout their life. In return, they might talk to someone that has died or might try to deny that the event even happened. Similarly, when Holden tells Phoebe all that he likes is Allie, she reminds him that he is dead, to which he responds: “ I know he's dead! Don't you think I know that? I can still like him can't I? Just because somebody's dead, you don't just stop liking them...” (Salinger 171). This feeling of nostalgia in remembering a loved one can make it feel like they are still alive but the sad part is is that there is nothing anyone can do to bring them back. Accepting that fact can be what makes the victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder relive these horrible circumstances. When Holden talks to Allie and acts as if he is still living, warning signs of mental illness become clear as these are both common

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