Abnormal Personality in Literature

Topics for Paper #1

Note: Please refer to “Guidelines for Papers” for information about paper requirements.

The Catcher in the Rye

1. In our discussions we made frequent reference to the “defense mechanisms” that Holden used in various ways throughout the narrative. Identify one or more of these strategies and discuss the ways in which Holden uses them. What do they do for Holden? Are they evidence of an “abnormal personality?” If so, why? Why not? Be sure to provide ample evidence from the novel and your abnormal psychology textbook.

2. Examine the tone of the novel. Remember, tone is defined as the author or speaker’s attitude. How would you characterize the tone, and what does it say about Holden’s personality? Does the tone give us insight into whether Holden suffers from a psychological disorder?

3. Examine the relationship between class and psychopathology in the novel. Holden’s description of many upper class adults as “phony” would suggest that he sees them as out of touch with reality. Do you think that Salinger is hinting that people who have wealth, power, and education have lost something in the bargain, such as their humanity?

Igby Goes Down

1. Can we say that Igby’s oppositional behavior is “normal” teenage rebellion, or does it point to a deeper psychological disorder? If the latter, how might we characterize the disorder? More important, what might the writer/director be suggesting about the nature of what it is like to be a troubled teen?

Due date:  Thursday, February 27
Length: Three pages minimum, typed and stapled
Margins:  One inch
Font:   12 point
Other:   Please title your paper