In the 1950s, many patients lived in hospitals and were treated by professional staff, which was considered an effective way to care for the mentally ill. Institutionalization was also welcomed by families and communities who were struggling to care for mentally ill relatives. Even though access of mental health services and care were becoming more common, the state in which hospitals were was underfunded and understaffed. The hospitals were poor living conditions.
By the mid-1950s, a push for deinstitutionalization and outpatient treatment began in many countries. The improvement of hospitals and the development of variety of antipsychotic drugs had a major impact on mental health care. Chemists began experimenting with different powders and pills to help the patients with mental illnesses receive pain relief. Rather than strapping people down to their beds or asking people to talk about their problems, the chemists tried to help them mentally with medication. People began feeling better and behaving better.
In the novel ‘Catcher In the Rye’, J.D Salinger uses the language technique of repetition to talk about how Caulfield is feeling throughout the novel, this can be seen when J.D Salinger repeats the words depressed, nervous, worried
“I'm too worried to go. I don't want to interrupt my worrying to go. If you knew Stradlater, you'd have been worried, too.”
J.D Salinger challenges mental illness by suggesting the Caulfield was not only a teenage delinquent, but he was also mentally unstable. An example of this in the text is:
“And the more I thought about it, the more depressed I got”
J.D Salinger challenges ideas of mental illness and teenage delinquency by showing authors context through the character. In a way J.D Salinger is defending his teenage self.
J.D Salinger presents an idea about the cultural assumption mental illness in this literature by showing how in the 1950s they were still developing an understanding of mental illnesses and he suggests that maybe the teenage delinquents were not only rebellious but not all mentally healthy.