Transcript of 15th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Thomas Darden, Friday, July 25, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hi, Tom. Take a seat.
Mr. Darden: Thanks.
Dr. Balis: How have you been?
Mr. Darden: Do you really want to know or are you just shooting off pleasantries?
Dr. Balis: No, I really want to know. It seems you've changed these past couple weeks.
Mr. Darden: In what way?
Dr. Balis: You seem to be in a very pensive frame of mind.
Mr. Darden: Taking myself off the drug probably has something to do with it.
Dr. Balis: Excuse me?
Mr. Darden: The Librium. I stopped taking it.
Dr. Balis: And why is that?
Mr. Darden: I've been reading up on it. It sounds no better than the Ritalin doctors prescribed me when I was younger. It's a type of drug that only should be used on a short-term basis. I hear it fucks with your body, that it zones you out, makes you feel lethargic and decreases your sex drive. I think those are symptoms that related to me of late. I realized that since you'd put me on the medication, I didn't really feel any more at ease in social situations, I just felt...indifferent. I didn't fucking care about anything or anyone. I didn't care if people said things about me in hushed circles; I didn't care who was winning the ballgame on TV; I didn't care that my smoke detector was going off for five minutes because I had burnt something in the oven; I didn't care if there was a big stringy booger protruding from a nostril while I was talking to someone; and I definitely didn't get aroused enough to keep up with my usual whack-off schedule. So I stopped taking it.
Dr. Balis: How long ago?
Mr. Darden: About three weeks.
Dr. Balis: Tom, this is a prime example of your trouble trusting the judgment or intentions of others. My goal by prescribing this medication was to help give you that extra push you seemed to need to get out into social situations and maintain yourself on a competent level. I planned on keeping you on the drug until such time as I deemed you were ready to handle these situations without its influence. That could have taken weeks or months. You're right in that it shouldn't be used long term, but it was not my intention to keep you on the Librium for a significant amount of time.
Mr. Darden: Well, I'm off it. As of now.
Dr. Balis: I'm not going to force you to take anything you don't feel comfortable taking.
Mr. Darden: You fucking doctors like to ignore our fucking real problems and simply look for the quick fix. "Here, Tom, here's some fucking drugs to send you to La-La Land. Have a nice day!" Fuck that. I mean, really Charles, what the hell do you know about me except for what comes up in these little 45 minute sessions of ours? Nothing. Not a damn thing. Your expensive degree in psycho-skull-fucking doesn't give you the extra sensory perception to see into my future and look through my fucking eyes and know how the fuck I'm going to feel under certain fucking conditions. You know what? I'm beginning to think all you shrinks are scam-artists. Hell, if I had known I could take some bullshit classes and graduate to a big city, working out of a plush office and throwing out bad advice to people who aren't worth spit, I'd have changed my fucking major.
Dr. Balis: You can take the drugs or not take them. That's your choice. If you feel that I'm not helping you, then you need to decide whether you'd like to either discontinue therapy or seek help from another provider. I will say this: I'm very devoted to my work and to my patients. I would not recklessly throw different drugs at you, hoping that some stick and solve your problems. Therapy is a process between a patient and a professional trained to understand mental processes and reactions. I'd say at least 70% of the healing process is completely in the patient's hands. If that patient is not interested in participating, then it is very difficult for the professional to accomplish much. I don't know everything about you, that is true, but I know enough to have a strong grasp of the influences in your life and the emotions they evoke. I'm very willing to help you but I need your complete cooperation. Is that fair?
Mr. Darden: I don't know. Give me a few minutes. I have to collect myself.
Dr. Balis: Take your time.
Mr. Darden: Yeah, take as much time as you need--I get my co-payment from you either way.
Dr. Balis: There you go again.
Mr. Darden: I know. I'm sorry.
Dr. Balis: That's all right.
Mr. Darden: Well, do you want to know what happened to me this week?
Dr. Balis: Of course. Are you ready for that?
Mr. Darden: Yes. I got a cat.
Dr. Balis: Really? What kind?
Mr. Darden: I don't know. A black one. A kitten. She just opened her eyes a few days ago.
Dr. Balis: What's her name?
Mr. Darden: Katherine, with a "K." "Kat" for short.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Mr. Darden: That way I can just say, "Hey, Kat, get off that table!" "Come here, Kat!" "Oh Kat, dinner!"
Dr. Balis: Very original.
Mr. Darden: I'm not good with naming animals.
Dr. Balis: Had you been looking to get a pet?
Mr. Darden: No. Basically, everyone was pressuring me to do it. My mom, my brother, my co-workers--hell, even Sharon suggested it. They all felt it would be good for me since I live alone. A girl from work has a cat that had given birth to a litter, so she offered me first pick. I think I got one so everybody would get off my back about not having a pet.
Dr. Balis: So you don't really want the cat?
Mr. Darden: I do and I don't. I know having a pet will get my mind off my loneliness to a certain degree, but I don't feel it'd be fair to the animal to not really love it or care about it.
Dr. Balis: I think in time you'll grow attached to it.
Mr. Darden: Yeah, but I feel guilty. She may have been perfect for another owner who would have truly loved her, but I took her instead. It just doesn't seem right of me to be doing this. What if I don't grow to love her? Or what if she ends up hating me after a while and we both realize we've wasted each other's time?
Dr. Balis: Are we still talking about the cat?
Mr. Darden: As far as I know. Why?
Dr. Balis: For a minute I got the impression you were speaking metaphorically.
Mr. Darden: Oh.
Dr. Balis: You said Sharon also suggested getting the cat. I take it she's still in the picture?
Mr. Darden: We are e-mailing each other about once a week. Seems like we're more pen pals now than anything else, which I guess is fine. I know there's nothing more of our relationship and I think she's realizing that, too. It sounds like her wedding jitters have subsided. So I'm happy for her.
Dr. Balis: But it doesn't solve the issue of your lovelife.
Mr. Darden: True, it doesn't, but I'm getting used to that now.
Dr. Balis: But that's counterproductive. We don't want you to be getting used to your situation. The idea is to get you back on a social track.
Mr. Darden: I know. I've been pretty despondent lately. When I stopped taking the Librium, my body seemed to take it pretty hard. I got very depressed. For about three nights straight, I drank myself to sleep. Eventually I started feeling a little better, or at least on the same level I was before taking the drug. I just want to venture out socially knowing that I accomplished it and not the drugs. Can you understand that?
Dr. Balis: I can.
Mr. Darden: So no more drugs, okay?
Dr. Balis: If you don't want them, I'm not going to prescribe them. We'll look at other alternatives, of which there are several.
Mr. Darden: So what's the next step?
Dr. Balis: Continued exposure to social settings. You were a journalism major, right? Perhaps you can join a writing club. I'm sure that bookstore you frequent offers some of those types of programs, as I've seen groups meet there myself.
Mr. Darden: Yeah. They usually horde the area just off to the side of the coffee shop.
Dr. Balis: Does that sound like something you'd be interested in?
Mr. Darden: I don't know. I haven't really written anything in a long while. I don't see myself as a writer anymore. I'm just a computer geek pecking away in a cubicle eight hours a day. That's the extent of my identity.
Dr. Balis: It's up to you.
Mr. Darden: We'll see.
Dr. Balis: All right. Same time, next week?
Mr. Darden: Actually, I'm going to be pretty busy next week. Could we make it two weeks from today?
Dr. Balis: We can. Is Friday, August 8th at 4 p.m. good for you?
Mr. Darden: That's fine.
Dr. Balis: Okay. I'll see you then. Goodbye, Tom.
Mr. Darden: Bye.
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