I wish I could claim that clever statement as my own, but in truth, I read it in a book by Jane Hamilton called, “Laura Rider’s Masterpiece”. I haven’t finished this book yet. I think it may, in fact, suck so I am having a hard time staying with it.


However, the book did have that one small gem. The one character was internal dialoguing and mentioned how Holden would have been fine if he just had some Prozac. I giggled when I first read the line. But now I am really wondering about it.


Would Holden have been fine if he just had some Prozac?


As you know he was in a mental institution at the beginning and end of the book. He tends to make us believe he had a nervous breakdown. Which is terrible in it of itself, but to have one at sixteen can only be described as horrific. However, was it a nervous breakdown or was it major depression? Can untreated major depression lead to a nervous breakdown?


Let’s look at the facts of Holden Caulfield. He was the second born in the family. He always thought his brothers and sisters were smarter and better then him. He watched his love and friend Sally deal with the effects of sexual abuse from her stepfather. Holden had trouble dealing with the death of his brother, Allie. He kept getting kicked out of schools. Holden tried to self-medicate himself with alcohol. His parents ignored him. He couldn’t let people get close to him. Even though he tried to plead his case, he always felt that he was a failure in everything he tried to do. 


Now, to their credit, Holden’s parents did try to get him help after Allie died and he punched all the windows out in the garage. However, it was the 1940’s and their way of dealing with depression was to either shuffle it under the rug or fry it out of your brain. So, can we blame Holden for pretending he was fine?


Having said all that now let’s look at the symptoms of depression. Hopelessness, fatigue, unable to concentrate, feeling worthless or guilt every day for long periods of the day, unable to sleep or stay awake…all of these are signs that one could suffer from major depression (according to webmd.com http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/major-depression).


I think it is well advised to say that Holden Caulfield had major depression. This is not a new theory by any means and I am not pretending that I am the first one to see him in this light.


Do I think he would have been fine with some Prozac?


I don’t think it would have hurt him any to have that extra chemical influx to his brain. But I think we are missing the deeper issue here. Holden was asked, like many teens are today, to deal with issues most adults have trouble coming to terms with. I think if Holden could have had a little more support from his family, maybe he wouldn’t have felt so alone and so guilty. It wasn’t his fault Sally was getting abused. He didn’t give his brother cancer. Allie didn’t die because Holden was a bad child; he died because he did. Holden couldn’t stop getting kicked out of schools because he couldn’t figure out why he didn’t think like everyone else.


When anyone goes through things like this, the first thing they need in order to start healing is to feel safe. Holden didn’t have that at all. The one place he did feel safe, he ran away as if his ass were on fire because he couldn’t understand how someone outside of the family could have cared so much when his own parents wanted nothing to do with him.


Yes, the in end Holden got the help he needed. Why did he have to pass out in a bathroom in order to get is parents to listen? It is such a small thing to do and yet so many people fail to do it. When someone is so hurt and they bottle it all in, all they need is just one person to make them feel safe. Then they can start, little by little, to come out of the shell they built around them and start healing.


Why is it so hard for us to just listen to someone? Why must we consume ourselves with our own lives to such a degree that we can’t take some time and just make a friend or a loved one feel safe?


I don’t think Holden would have been just fine with Prozac. Medicating the problem just pushes it down and hibernates the issue. Holden needed medication to make him feel safe and he needed people around him who wouldn’t judge him to let him know that it was okay to start healing.