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A SOUTHERN BASKET CASE
Society, over the years, has become more complex as people progress. The levels at which we interact in families, communities and governments have dramatically changed. This change has left some citizens in our communities unable to cope with everyday life. The story “A Rose For Emily” by William Faulkner, gives an example of how people sometimes fail to function in society due to a number of mental health problems created by our advancing social structure. Miss Emily Grierson, in the story, clearly demonstrates she is a basket case caused by the environment her father created.
The start of Emily’s problem’s extends back to her younger years with her ‘disfunctional family’, mainly her father. We must assume in the story there was no mother figure, since no mention was ever given. This lack of mothering may have been a major piece missing in her life. Emily’s father was incapable of giving motherly advice due the social climate of the day. Her father was overly protective and must have demanded much of her. She grew very dependent on her father’s care. This also caused her to become dependent on a servant for all her activities after the death of her father. Emily’s disfunctional family was just start of her life long problems.
Being sheltered from society by her father created Emily’s ‘social phobia’ and shyness. “People with a social phobia are aware that their feelings are irrational. Still, they experience a great deal of dread before facing the feared situation, and they may go out of their way to avoid it” (National Institute of Mental Health). Emily was afraid to leave her home. Several instances in the story give example to this, “ From that time on her front door remained closed, save during a period of six or seven years” and “The front door closed upon the last one and remained closed for good” (Faulkner 338-339 ). “She stood in the door way and listened quietly” would lend more to the possibility of her social phobia.
“People with social phobia aren't necessarily shy at all. They can be completely at ease with people most of the time, but in particular situations, they feel intense anxiety” (National Institute of Mental Health). “All the young men her father had driven away” must have had great impact on her ability to be social (Faulkner 338). Emily did demonstrate she could be somewhat at ease at times when she dated Homer Barron and when she gave lessons in china-painting. People with social phobia and shyness often find themselves being very selective of whom they meet and when they meet. They tend to try to be in control of the situation at all times as demonstrated by Emily.
“She will kill herself” gives us some insight on the story that should be have been suspected all along. This is a very depressed woman clinging on to her ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ (PTSD). PTSD is a debilitating condition that follows a terrifying event (National Institute of Mental Health). Her father's death was that debilitating experience that put her into seclusion. PTSD victims often feel detached, numb, easily startled, irritable, violent, trouble working with others, eating disorders and have problems feeling affectionate (National Institute of Mental Health). Emily clearly meets all these symptoms at some time during the story.
As if she doesn’t have enough problems with PTSD and social phobia, she eventually feels threatened enough to become irrational. Homer Barron shows interest in Emily and dates her for a while. All along the public is very confused about the whole thing. Homer was from the North and did not sit well with the southern community. Homer's manners were none, to say the least. This went against all southern protocol.
Homer must have represented some sort of father figure for Emily. When it was time for Homer to move on, she felt threatened and could not withstand another loss of a key figure in her life. Emily called on the druggist and without hesitation asked “I want some poison” (Faulkner 339). It should have been clear to the druggist that something was wrong when Emily would not say what the poison was for. She poisoned Homer for fear that she would lose him forever. She kept his body in the upstairs bedroom
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Abnormal psychology, Psychiatric diagnosis, RTT, Anxiety disorders, A Rose for Emily, Phobias, Emily Grierson, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Emily, Social anxiety disorder, Shyness, William Faulkner
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