By Nixy Thomeczek
In 1606, a crisis took place after an argument between an “of age” male youth and his father. The crisis was witnessed by the half-brother living in the home of similar age. This worker was contacted to facilitate crisis work for the youth henceforth Edgar, his brother Edmund, and father who asked to only be referred to as Gloucester. Currently the country is facing an invasion by a long-standing enemy, Gloucester is a political figure under stress and unable to be on scene for the crisis. This external stressor facilitated a breakdown between father and son. The youth was called in for refusal to return home, this will be his first contact with us, and the meeting place is designated at a public park. Secondary housing needs located for Edgar because of his distress and Gloucester being unable to pick him up. I was unable to get an address for Edgar as “poor Tom has no home”, a SASS (Screening, Assessment, and Support Services) worker will be contacted for a mental evaluation before placement to see if he needs inpatient treatment.
Edgar Gloucester is the full son of the Duke of Gloucester and his wife. He lives with his father, half-brother, and a myriad of servants. His mother was not mentioned during this case. Edgar’s presenting problem at the time of this worker’s interview was the removal from his home due to his father’s aggression. Edgar represented to this worker that the communication of his father’s anger was relayed through his half-brother, Edmund. Edgar said his brother told him, “you may have offended him: and at my entreaty forbear his presence till some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure; which at this instant so rageth in him, that with the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay.” (King Lear, act 1 scene 2) To translate, he was told that his father was greatly upset with him due to something he had said early in the day. Edgar did not attempt communication with his father, he instead left the area to avoid his father’s anger. Edgar also admitted that he did not try to communicate with the servants as to his father’s temperament. Gloucester could not be reached at the time as he was meeting with other political figures for a discussion on the current invasion. The servant who attempted to contact him said that “his eyes were coming out of his head” and that the half-brother was to take over the political position. No verbal consent could be given and so Edgar will be treated as a homeless youth rather than child runaway as he was called in.
Edgar at the time of crisis was “cosplaying” as a popular folk character known as Tom O’ Bedlam. He described his look as “my face I’ll grime with filth; Blanket my loins: elf all my hair in knots;… Strike in their numb’d and mortified bare arms Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;…” (King Lear, Act 2 Scene 3) He claimed that this was an attempt to hide rather than him expressing his grief. This worker, however, believes that this was an expression of his grief as he shows signs of emotional distress. He said, “Poor Turlygod! poor Tom! That’s something yet: Edgar I nothing am.” (King Lear, Act 2 Scene 3) He appears to be struggling with his internal image and has conflicting self-concepts due to this argument with his father. He has lost his ability to see himself outside of his relationship with his father and to distinguish himself from his name. It appears that Edgar is using this character as a way to live vicariously in a way that he was unable to access before. This worker attempted to convince Edgar to go to a hotel or placement for homeless youth, but he was unreceptive to this concept. Edgar was convinced that he was being hunted by his half-brother, despite no evidence of this, and stated that being housed would put him at risk for “being discovered”. The servant that was able to be contacted described Edgar as a very trusting and good-natured character, and so this worker called again to determine if this belief was founded or paranoia. This worker was informed that Edgar’s beliefs were founded, and so this worker put a call to DCFS for a hit being put out on a youth. Because he is “of age” (still no specific age) DCFS deflected him, SASS deflected hospitalization due to Edgar being determined as to not be a danger to himself or others.
Intervention and Crisis resolution:
After attempting to facilitate a resolution with Gloucester and Edgar and failing. An attempt was made for housing not associated with federal programs that were subject to oversight. Edgar elected to squat in an abandoned house with a former king, a fool, and a knight who looks suspiciously like famous actor Jim Carter. Edgar and this worker agreed to reconvene post invasion, in an effort to stabilize Edgar.
Edgar reached out after a massive storm to inform this worker that his father’s eyes had been plucked out and they were attempting to make it to the French army and request relief. Edgar did not reveal to his father who he was, and instead he convinced his father that his father survived a suicide attempt and then disguised himself as a peasant. SASS was again contacted to assess his mental state, but they could not be located.
Edgar again reached out to this worker, only a few hours after the defeat of the invading army, claiming his father died when he told him who he was, and he was going to go kill his half-brother who was engaging in risky sexual behavior with both ruling women. This worker again contacted SASS as he was threatening harm to others, Edgar was again unable to be located.
Edgar contacted this worker again to inform her of the resolution. Gloucester is dead from an unknown cause, Edmund is dead by Edgar’s actions, both ruling women are dead in a murder suicide, former king is dead of an unknown cause, Cordelia (third ruler?) died by hanging, and Edgar is now king. This worker is using this space to write her formal resignation, and to let readers know that I will be moving literally anywhere else.
Edgar is an unstable person suffering from extreme grief and trauma who uses disguises to cope with loss of the people he uses to create his identity. He seems lacking in a core belief of self and has no higher goals now that Edmund and Gloucester are dead. His belief of self appeared to be informed entirely on external opinions, and he has no clear motivator since his massive loss. I am concerned that with no people around to ground him, he may struggle with the weight of power and the court of public opinion to the point where he is a dangerous ruler. He seemed unable to experience emotions as himself and turned to his made and adopted characters as a way to express his intense emotions. This is not uncommon, many people under high stress have hidden lives and it helps them so long as they do not fall to deeply into their constructed characters. Issues with his newer experience and power are a cause for concern. Now leading a country, he may not know how to function without seeking revenge, and in doing so he may send his country to war by unjustly blaming the king of France for his father’s death. This worker hopes that while he was acting as poor tom and a peasant, he was able to learn emotional expression in a helpful and healthy way. Hopefully Edgar is able to recover the kindness and selfless attitude from before this trauma and able to rule well and with fairness.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. (1877). King Lear. Oxford :Clarendon Press,