Holden Depression (A Complete Guide) | OptimistMinds (2023)

In this article post, we will be discussing, “ Holden Depression”, the clinical features and symptoms of depression, a brief biography of Holden, causes of depression in Holden and some of the frequently asked questions related to the topic.

Holden was suffering and diagnosed with Depression

  • The death of his brother and one of his classmate
  • Fantasize the idea of death
  • Rumination about death and suicide
  • Emotional instability
  • Expulsion from Pencey Prep
  • Constant battle between having to be innocent and mature
  • Dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Unaddressed death feeling aftermath his brother’s death
  • Nuances of depression

William Holden

Holden Caulfield was a teenager from New York, the second child of Mr and Mrs Caulfield. He shares about his parents having a different religion thus his siblings being a sort of atheist. For him, much of his childhood was described as lousy.

He grew up in California where he attended Pasadena College and acted as a local radio player and got involved with Pasadena Playhouse. His talent was discovered by the Paramount Pictures and was given wide recognition and glamorous with the surname “ Holden”.

Owing to his good looks and a muscular feature, he was assigned the lead role in the boxing melodrama, Golden boy in the year 1939. Since the role was found and perceived as a major challenge for a young actor like him, he took help and assistance from a costar, Barbara Stanwyck.

Years after his appearance in much of the Hollywood movies and film, he was disillusioned by Hollywood and started to appear in a limited quality film. He spent much of his energy, time and days supporting the conservation effort in Africa.

Some of his roles that stand out and were widely known as, “ The Wild Bunch”, “Network” and etc.

The classic novel, “ Catcher in the Rye” was written by J D Salinger and was widely recognized as an influential piece of literature work. It features Holden Caulfield and his days before entering the mental institution and was diagnosed with mental illnesses. It also shares about the days of Salinger where he had a hard time coping with and connecting with others.

Holden Depression

Episodes from Holden’s own life made him vulnerable to depression and was subsequently depressed. Some major traumatic events from his life made him low, depressed and to deal with certain mental illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorders. His current issues and past traumas had made his journey worse and tough.

Death of his brother and one college friend

In the novel, Holden shares about the two subsequent deaths he had to deal with. This had been really challenging for him to cope up. Initially, his brother passed away from Leukemia which impacted him emotionally.

This incident had been traumatic for him while the death of his previous school mate after that made the matter worse, He classmate committed suicide. Both the deaths result in heavy emotion and Holden had a bad time coping up with both.

(Video) 10-Min Meditation to Wash Away the Winter Blues | Guided Meditation for Depression with Lee Holden

Alie, his younger brother’s death was turbulent for him. Hr was only 13 at that time and his reaction to the loss as an elder brother was severe. After this traumatic event, his parents told him that they wanted him to psychoanalyzed to understand his underlying thought processes but was refused by the end. Because of this refusal and decision against it, Holden was never able to process and understand the deep down negative feeling since his brother’s death.

This also results in Holden to think about his brother very frequently and feel lonely.

Solo ride in New york city

It was in New York, he was severely disturbed by thoughts of loneliness and isolation. Three days of a solo stint in NewYork city made him experience deep isolation, There were times he just shouts and vents out his brother’s name to escape from the extreme feeling of distress and to make him feel less alone.

This was a clear indication that his discontent and an extreme feeling of loneliness is not attributable simply to the typical experience of a teen rather it is believed to be something more severe and profound: unaddressed grief feeling towards the death of his brother.

Fantasize the idea of death

The fact that Holden wasn’t able to accept the loss of his brother and move on, the thought of it lingers around him and this inspires more death feeling and thoughts about suicide. The more he thinks about the grief feeling and death, it tends to prime more troubling thoughts resulting in Holden to make more disturbing remarks.

Unlike the feeling of distress and negativity present in normal and typical teenagers, he tends to fantasize about suicide and death. This was a clear sign that he was fixated on the idea of death and felt that this would be the ultimate solution to all kinds of problems he faced.

Dissatisfaction with his own life

Despite the fact that Holden belongs to a wealthy family with a loving sister, he confessed that he was upset about his life. There isn’t a shortage of opportunities for him however, he shared that he was disappointed with his own life.

Persistent rumination and thoughts about death

The novel also shares how often Holden thinks about death and suicide. As the novel, progress his confession about dissatisfaction with life and the depth of discontent he had with his life was more apparent.

He had a persistent rumination over death and suicide that shows how was dealing with deep negative thoughts and was having severe dissatisfaction with himself and his life.

He was a cynical teenager

Since his teen days, he was skeptical and a little cynical. He has a bitter outlook towards life and tells people no matter how wealthy and fortunate life you are gifted with, one tends to suffer from severe mental illnesses.

(Video) Ultimate Guide to Natural Anxiety Relief | Naturally Relieve Stress

He shares unhappiness comes from a complicated network of complexity and nuances.

Even in the novel, he made it evident for the readers that he was a cynical teenager with the first phrase that goes, “ if you really want to hear about it”, it shows its sarcastic attitude.

Inability to avoid his emotions

His novel deals with the mental breakdown and his failure to deal with the deep emotions of sadness and loneliness. His novel deals with the array of emotions and events that made him feel worse and depressed.

He also shares how hard it had been for him to cope up with the feelings of isolation, struggles of building new friends and relationships. Holden had a severely bad and difficult time to cope with the untreated grief as well as depression.

Holden had to cope up with his impulsive acts, erratic and upsetting thoughts and irrationality.

Expulsion from Pencey Prep

Holden Caulfield was kicked out from Pencey Prep and he felt that his decision wasn’t guided by any of his known adults. Since he was scared and reluctant to share his decision with his parents, he avoids going home thus, spends much of his time loitering around bars, pending spree tie with women and lavishly spends his money,

He was reckless with the freedom and privilege he was offered with.

Post-traumatic stress

Although Holden has no direct experience with war, he had experience with war from the past which is indicative enough of Post Traumatic Stress that he is dealing with.

He shared the early draft of The Catcher in the Rye when serving as a soldier during the World War period.

The constant battle between innocence and having to prove innocence

Holden was having a hard time to prove that was innocent to the public as well as to prove others that he often acts like an adult. The struggle was challenging for him since he failed in having to prove either of them. The depressive symptoms in him started exhibiting when he failed and started to set in.

(Video) Bipolar disorder (depression & mania) - causes, symptoms, treatment & pathology

Because of these reasons, Holden had a hard time battling with depression. The interplay of both past traumatic events of his childhood and the issues at the present resulted in depression. Holden had a battle with depression, anxiety and PTSD.

FAQs: Holden depression

Does Holden have depression?

Yes, Holden was also diagnosed with PTSD and he exhibited symptoms of it with an excessive amount of guilt. He struggled with remembering information and details of his event all his life. His emotion was often imbalanced.

Why was Holden depressed?

Both his past traumatic events as well as the current issues led him to depression. He often shares about the two consecutive losses that he had to deal with. The first was his brother’s death from Leukaemia and the second was the suicide attempt of one of his classmate. Both these traumatic events impacted him emotionally and took a toll on his psychological as well as mental health.

What mental disorder does Holden have?

Holden had depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. This was all a result of some severe traumatic events from his life and failing to deal with these.

How many times does Holden say he’s depressed?

In the catcher in the Rye, he mentioned that he was depressed or depressing 41 times.

(Video) 7-Minute Seated Qi Gong Routine to Relieve Anxiety Naturally | Seated Qi Gong

Why did Holden not attend Allie’s funeral?

Holden missed the funeral of Allie because he was in the hospital for psychiatric evaluation.


In this article post, we have discussed, “ Holden Depression”, the clinical features and symptoms of depression, a brief biography of Holden, causes of depression in Holden and some of the frequently asked questions related to the topic.

Links for further and more information



Jaffee, R. D. (2010). Holden Caulfield: Depressed, Psychotic and All. huffpost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/holden-caulfield-depresse_b_522499

Salinger, J. D. (n.d.). The catcher in the Rye. Lit Chart. https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-catcher-in-the-rye/themes/madness-depression-suicide


How does Holden Caulfield show depression? ›

After his brother Allie dies, Holden falls into a deep depression where nothing seems to matter anymore. He questions the meaning of things around him, has suicidal thoughts, and rids himself of materialism.

What quotes prove Holden is depressed? ›

It was against my principles and all, but I was feeling so depressed I didn't even think. That's the whole trouble. When you're feeling very depressed, you can't even think.”

Why is Holden depressed in Chapter 14? ›

Summary: Chapter 14

Holden sits in his hotel room and smokes for a while. He remembers an incident shortly before Allie's death when he excluded Allie from a BB-gun game—he still feels guilty for having left Allie out.

How does Holden struggle with depression? ›

He is overwhelmed with untreated grief and depression. His actions are impulsive and irrational, and his thoughts are very upsetting and erratic. The difficulty in social settings and trauma makes it hard for him to filter what he says to others, and he can't understand why they reject him.

What does Holden do when he's depressed? ›

When Holden gets very depressed, he sometimes talks "sort of out loud" to his younger brother. He does so after Sunny leaves. His communication with Allie is almost religious, a confession of Holden's boyhood lack of consideration for the kid.

What is an example of Holden having suicidal thoughts? ›

Throughout the novel, Holden frequently states that he feels depressed, and often entertains morbid thoughts. For example, after Maurice punches him in the gut, Holden thinks, “What I really felt like, though, is committing suicide.

What does Holden see on the wall that makes him very depressed Why? ›

While waiting for Phoebe at the Museum of Art, he shows two boys an Egyptian tomb and sees the same obscenity on the wall even there. Holden concludes that there is no way to escape the ugliness of the world.

What chapter does Holden have a mental breakdown? ›

Holden's breakdown reaches its climax in Chapter 25. As the chapter begins, Holden feels surrounded on all sides by ugliness and phoniness—the profanity on the walls, the vulgar Christmas-tree delivery men, the empty pomp of Christmas—and his recent interactions with Phoebe and Mr.

What mental illness does Holden have? ›

Salinger's manuscript for The Catcher in the Rye. Today, readers might infer that Holden must be suffering from some combination of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. Holden himself references mental illness, trauma, and psychoanalysis.

Why is Holden depressed in Chapter 13? ›

As Holden thinks about his lost gloves and his own cowardliness, he becomes more and more depressed. Because of this, he decides that he'd like to get drunk, noting that he's capable of drinking quite a bit of liquor without getting sick.

What did Holden feel like doing at the end of Chapter 14? ›

Getting back in bed, he briefly feels like committing suicide by jumping out the window, telling himself that he would really do this if he knew somebody would put a blanket over his body so people couldn't gape at him when he landed.

What does Holden do when he goes to the bathroom Chapter 14? ›

Holden staggers around and into the bathroom, pretending (in his own mind) that he's taken a bullet to the gut and is dying. He imagines coming back at Maurice with an automatic, calling Jane, and having her bandage up his guts. Disgusted with himself, Holden notes that the movies can really ruin you.

What causes Holden's mental breakdown? ›

In The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the character, Holden Caulfield, has an underlying mental condition. He failed out of four schools; he saw his friend commit suicide; and his younger brother died of cancer. These life-changing experiences paved the way for Holden's insecure and unstable life.

What chapter does Holden talk about his depression? ›

The Catcher in the Rye. Chapter 17. The thought of growing up drives Holden into bouts of depression. Here Holden is trying to persuade Sally Hayes, an attractive girl he has known and dated in the past, into marrying him and going away with him.

Does Holden end up in a mental hospital? ›

Holden is not specific about his location while he's telling the story, but he makes it clear that he is undergoing treatment in a mental hospital or sanatorium. The events he narrates take place in the few days between the end of the fall school term and Christmas, when Holden is sixteen years old.

How many times does Holden say depressed? ›

Let's do some word counting: variations of “depressed” or “depressing” occur 41 times in Catcher in the Rye.

What does the depression symbolize in Catcher in the Rye? ›

A prominent cause of Holden Caulfield's depression is his detachment from society. To begin with, Holden isolates himself from the people around him as he refrains from developing social bonds.

Why is Holden emotionally unstable? ›

In The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the character, Holden Caulfield, has an underlying mental condition. He failed out of four schools; he saw his friend commit suicide; and his younger brother died of cancer. These life-changing experiences paved the way for Holden's insecure and unstable life.

Does Holden blame himself for Allie's death? ›

Holden's relationship with Allie enables him to see "the beauty of a child's innocence," but he feels a great deal of guilt and "blames himself for not being able to 'catch' Allie[,] even though there was nothing he could do to save him from cancer." There is an appropriate, rather than rich, use of language about ...

What trauma did Holden go through? ›

When the novel opens, Salinger's protagonist, Holden, is reeling from two traumas: his little brother Allie has died of leukemia and his parents, in a misguided attempt to protect him, bar him from attending the funeral before shipping him off to prep school. He's expelled from that school, and three others.

What are Holden's suicidal thoughts quotes in The Catcher in the Rye? ›

“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. I didn't want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory.”

What depressed Holden while he was packing? ›

As he packs, Holden gets depressed a bit because of the ice skates his mother just gave him as a gift. They upset him because his mother had just gone to all the trouble of getting him ice skates, and he was getting kicked out of another school again right after.

What is an example of Holden being emotionally unstable? ›

Holden's initial issue is that he is emotionally unstable. We learn that through the book he has many breakdowns and outbursts of emotion and feelings. Holden says, “He got leukemia and died when we were up in Maine, on July 18, 1946.” Holden says this with deep sadness and sympathy for the death of his brother.

What causes Holden's anxiety? ›

Holden struggles to keep up with life especially at school and his perspective about life is quite negative. It is probably due to his past experience of being emotionally neglected by his family, losing a sibling, witnessing bullying and suicide incident.

Who dies in Catcher in the Rye? ›

Allie died of leukemia at the Caulfields' summer home in Maine on July 18, 1946. He was 11 years old; Holden was 13. Holden, distraught over the loss of his brother, broke his hand punching the windows out of the garage of their summer home.

Why does Holden cry at the end of Chapter 23? ›

He is moved to tears when his sister gives him her Christmas stash, eight dollars and sixty-five cents.

What is chapter 13 important quotes Catcher in the Rye? ›

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 13: Quotes. ''I'd have the damn gloves right in my hand and all, but I'd feel I ought to sock the guy in the jaw or something—break his goddam jaw. Only, I wouldn't have the guts to do it. I'd just stand there, trying to look tough.

What does Holden do that is unlike most guys in Chapter 13? ›

Holden walks 41 blocks back to his hotel, on the grounds that sometimes, you just feel like walking. True that. It's cold, so he puts his hunting hat back on, noting that he doesn't care how he looks.

What are Holden Caulfield's emotional symptoms? ›

Caulfield indicates that he has anxiety disorder by showing physical and mental symptoms such as; sweating excessively, difficulty finding peace of mind, going to the restroom when having panic attack, and failing at school, Holden Caulfield has background story that affects his current anxiety which are: absence of ...

What mental disorder does Holden have? ›

Salinger's manuscript for The Catcher in the Rye. Today, readers might infer that Holden must be suffering from some combination of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. Holden himself references mental illness, trauma, and psychoanalysis.

What causes Holden Caulfield's breakdown? ›

Eventually he has a mental breakdown. Through psychoanalysis of Holden Caulfield, one may suggest that Allie 's death, social development, and an identity crisis are large contributing factors in Holden 's mental breakdown. Allie Caulfield is an important person to Holden and his death affects him greatly.


1. Why Depression Lowers Immunity #shorts
(Holden QiGong)
2. Holden and Depression: Rage Against the Phonies
3. Teenagers Overcome Depression - Boys Home
(Heart Transformation)
4. BURNOUT BIKE 😰 Splendor Bike Burnout ❤️‍🔥 #bike #stunt #burnout #splendor #uk07rider @upkrider
(Up k Rider)
5. The Complete Guide to Manifestation and Visualization with Lee Holden
(Holden QiGong)
6. Shift your breathing to shift your emotions | Lee Holden
(Mindvalley )
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Prof. Nancy Dach

Last Updated: 03/15/2023

Views: 5459

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. Nancy Dach

Birthday: 1993-08-23

Address: 569 Waelchi Ports, South Blainebury, LA 11589

Phone: +9958996486049

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Web surfing, Scuba diving, Mountaineering, Writing, Sailing, Dance, Blacksmithing

Introduction: My name is Prof. Nancy Dach, I am a lively, joyous, courageous, lovely, tender, charming, open person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.