Psychiatrists’ Say The Darnedest Things – 6/17/13

If I were going to include a periodic quote from the media on my blog, and I might eventually do so, the following might be a good place to start.

As part of a HuffPost Book Club discussion on the book that took place last year, Matthew Erlich, MD, a psychiatrist-researcher at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in the Division of Mental Health Services, told us that Caulfield would probably have been committed to a secure unit as a manic depressive at the time of the book.

This snippet was snipped from, Holden Caulfield Diagnosis: Psychiatrist Discusses Salinger’s Classic Character (VIDEO), Huff Post Books.

The main protagonist of the Catcher in the Rye, a great coming of age and prep-school novel, that many of us experienced first hand while growing up, has been reduced to a species of nervous disorder. Thank heaven Holden saw no reason to check himself into a psychiatric facility, huh? On the other hand, this scenario suggests alternate plot lines. What if J. D. Salinger had come up with a different twist? Holden could have been snatched up by the psychiatric authorities, and the mental patients’ liberation movement–it’s all anti-psychiatry to true believers–might have welcomed another fictional hero into their midst beyond the misbegotten, doomed, and mischievous Randle Patrick McMurphy from Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

Did I say, “might have“? Without rereading the novel, here’s what the wikipedia Catcher in the Rye page says.

Holden makes the decision that he will head out west and live as a deaf-mute. When he mentions these plans to his little sister Monday morning, she wants to go with him. Holden declines her offer, which upsets Phoebe, so Holden decides not to leave after all. He tries to cheer her up by taking her to the Central Park Zoo, and as he watches her ride the zoo’s carousel, he is filled with happiness and joy at the sight of Phoebe riding in the rain. At the conclusion of the novel, Holden decides not to mention much about the present day, finding it inconsequential. He alludes to “getting sick” and living in a mental hospital, and mentions that he’ll be attending another school in September; he relates that he has been asked whether he will apply himself properly to his studies this time around and wonders whether such a question has any meaning before the fact. Holden says that he doesn’t want to tell anything more, because surprisingly he has found himself missing two of his former classmates, Stradlater and Ackley, and even Maurice, the pimp who punched him. He warns the reader that telling others about their own experiences will lead them to miss the people who shared them.

Emboldened emphasis added.

Did you get that? Holden Caulfield was a mental patient. The mental hospital experience was his experience. Perhaps he’s still with our movement at this present moment. If it’s not too ‘schizoid’ a thing to say, I think I saw him in 2012 at the protest outside the APA convention in Philly I attended.

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