Holden’s Psychology Report
Dr. Jigme Norchen
12 December, 1949
Dear Mr. Caufield,
Today I had a long talk with your son, Holden, concerning his recent struggles. I asked him about his whereabouts and actions in the last week. He then spent the next two hours of our session delineating his journey . From his story, I have concluded that he has been suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This psychological disorder is fostered when an individual undergoes a traumatic event or experience. In Holden’s case, there are two catalysts that caused PTSD: the death of his younger brother Allie and his classmate from Elkton Hills who committed suicide while wearing Holden’s sweater. Both of these events have been emphasized throughout Holden’s story. The symptoms of PTSD vary from person to person, however there are three main symptoms that are usually evident in PTSD patients which are: re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoiding reminders of the event, and an increase in emotional instability(helpguide.org). These three symptoms are all evident in Holden’s story.
The first symptom of PTSD that is evident in Holden is his re-experience of the traumatic events. The symptom from helpguide.org states that patients have, “upsetting memories, flashbacks, and nightmares, as well as feelings of distress or intense physical reactions when reminded of the event (sweating, pounding heart, nausea, for example)”. When narrating his story to me, Holden recounted several flashbacks and details about his brother. One thing he told me about was his brother’s characteristics, he said: “My brother Allie had this left-handed fielder’s mitt. He was left-handed. The thing that was descriptive about it, though, was that he had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere.(38)” Holden still has flashbacks of Allie because of the trauma caused from it.
The second symptom of PTSD is avoiding reminders of the event (helpguide.org). When Holden recounted the suicide of his classmate,James Castle, he said: “I ran downstairs too, and there was old James Castle, laying right on the stone steps and all. He was dead, and his teeth, and blood, were all over the place, and nobody would even go near him. (170)” From Holden’s narration it is evident that Holden’s view of people changed that day. After the traumatic incident in which nobody would bother to help James Castle, Holden developed a cynical view on people. Holden believed that people were all selfish, self-motivated, and cruel. For this reason Holden labels people as “phonies,” because it reminds him of his classmate’s death where nobody offered their help. Therefore Holden thinks people might try to act nice on the outside,whereas they’re really selfish and self-motivating on the inside; for Holden most people in the world fit in this definition.
The third symptom of PTSD is the increase in emotional instability of patients. This is evident in Holden’s constant mood swings (helpguide.org). One pertinent example of this symptom is when he suddenly started a physical fight with his roommate. Another example of his emotional instability is how he felt briefly after Allie’s death. He recounted the incident to me, “I was only thirteen, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage. I don’t blame them. I really don’t. I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. I even tried to break all the windows on the station wagon we had that summer, but my hand was already broken and everything by that time.(48) ” Holden made it clear that his violence was because of Allie’s death.
To sum it up, your son, Holden Caulfield, has clearly exhibited signs of PTSD. The main symptoms he has shown is re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoiding reminders of the event, and increase in emotional instability (helpguide.org). I have several recommendations for him to reduce these symptoms and improve his quality of life. Firstly he should stay off drinking and smoking, “Sometimes trauma survivors turn to alcohol and drugs to help them cope with PTSD. While these substances may distract you from your painful feelings for a short time, relying on alcohol and drugs always makes things worse in the end. These substances get in the way of PTSD treatment and recovery. Rather than trying to beat an addiction by yourself, you may want to join a treatment program. It is often easier to deal with addictions if you can be around others who are working on the same kinds of issues.” (U.S Department of Veterans Affairs) I also recommend that you allow me to perform virtual reality treatment on him it, “consists of custom virtual environments that have been carefully designed to support exposure therapy of anxiety disorders. The treatment involves exposing the person with PTSD to a virtual environment that contains the feared situation, instead of taking the patient into the actual environment or having the patient imagine the traumatic situation.” (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) By continuing therapy and psychoanalysis, I believe your son will avoid making reckless decisions like smoking, drinking, and fighting. Consequently he will be taking one step closer to leading a more healthy lifestyle.
-Dr. Jigme Norchen