Teen mental health during the 1950’s was frowned upon in society. Families would often send their children away to asylums often for life. The 50’s was the beginning of new more humane way of treating mental illness in for example, chemists would experiment with the new compounds and mixtures to try and balance out the chemical imbalance inside the patient’s brain although the use of asylums and torture like treatment like shock treatment and the use of injections was still commonly used.
In the novel Holden Caulfield is pictured being mentally unwell depicted by his constant depression and anxiety shown when he talks about something he always carries on about how it depresses him especially during the first night he sends in new York, he is also extremely anxious about the littlest of things like him being so anxious about Stradlater going on a date with Jane and how it continues to trouble him throughout the novel, also nearing the end of the novel we are bought to a present time of Holden telling us the story and it is made clear that he is being treated for some kind of sickness being stated that he misses everyone in his experience showing that he wasn’t allowed to see anyone and by saying that he will ‘be going back to school in December’ and ‘whether it will be any better or not’.
J.D Salinger questions whether or not these teenagers are really mentally ill or not. Just because Holden his sad doesn’t mean he is mentally ill. I believe Holden is more confused about being on the border of adulthood and childhood making them feel extremely lonely causing their depression. This would make sense that whenever Holden is exposed to adult themes in society he always complains about how sad he is, especially when he I exposed to adult cultures in society. Also Holden doesn’t use the word depressed or depresses ion a mental illness state but n more of an everyday word to say that he is sad or that something makes him feel miserable.
J.D Salinger is questioning this assumption of teenagers having mental illness because of their behaviours in the 50’s. although n the novel Holden does say he is depressed, I think he is more so metaphorically saying he is sad, miserable and fed up of having to deal and change to societies ways