Transcript of 17th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Thomas Darden, Monday, August 25, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Tom. Come in.
Mr. Darden: Hey.
Dr. Balis: Thanks for accommodating me by switching our appointment to today. How have you been?
Mr. Darden: Okay.
Dr. Balis: Two weeks ago we discussed your trepidation over this business trip you'll be taking in October.
Mr. Darden: It's not really a business trip. The company's flying us to the Bahamas as sort of a celebration of our job performance. There will be a lot of drinking, which I'm more than comfortable with.
Dr. Balis: But you're not comfortable with the idea of being among the other employees.
Mr. Darden: No. There will be about three hundred of them, none of whom I really know except for maybe the few I've talked to over the phone.
Dr. Balis: So instead of being excited about this honor...
Mr. Darden: Yeah, right.
Dr. Balis: Come on! Of course it's an honor. But you're not looking forward to it and you'd like very much to get out of it.
Mr. Darden: Yes, which puts me in a quandary. I'm torn between my fear of people and my responsibilities as an SII employee. So far, I've been successful at making sure the two factors never mixed. Now, I think they will. When Dave Torriello told me I had been chosen to go on this trip, I wanted to rush out of his office screaming "No, no, no," but I knew that if I did that, it would have put me in a poor light.
Dr. Balis: Isn't he already aware that you've sought therapy?
Mr. Darden: He originally suggested indirectly that I go to therapy, but that was because he felt I was getting too defensive when I was talking with customers. He has no idea how profound my fear of people is, or that I have this fear at all.
Dr. Balis: Why do you feel that it's inevitable that your fear will manifest itself during this Bahama trip?
Mr. Darden: During the trip, there's a recognition ceremony. All the employees will be corralled together in an auditorium and they'll be asked to walk on stage, accept their award, and stay up there for pictures with the President. I'm absolutely dreading it. To make matters worse, SII will film the event for their yearly propaganda video they show to trainees. All this time, I've felt like I've been put up in front of everyone for display, and now it will literally happen. I've been thinking about skipping this ceremony once I fly down there. Maybe just stay in my hotel room or something and say that I'm ill, which I guess isn't too far from the truth.
Dr. Balis: Tom, do me a favor. Don't do that.
Mr. Darden: Easy for you to say. You can't know what this fear feels like. It's overwhelming. It's paralyzing. I may throw jokes at you every now and then about it but I really want you to know this is truly horrifying for me.
Dr. Balis: I know it is, Tom. But the only way you can overcome the fear is to confront it. Your fear seems to have stemmed from some event in your past and you have since used other events to reinforce that fear. I'd like to try a desensitization technique if you'll allow me.
Mr. Darden: Does this entail my taking off my clothes and running up and down the street screaming, "The British are coming, the British are coming?"
Dr. Balis: No, hardly ever. Come with me.
Mr. Darden: Wait! We're going to leave the office? Where are we going?
Dr. Balis: You'll see.
Mr. Darden: I don't like that answer.
Dr. Balis: You'll have to trust me. Take your stuff. Let me lock the door.
Mr. Darden: Just tell me you're taking me to a bar and treating me to a couple shots.
Dr. Balis: Nice try.
Mr. Darden: Seriously, where are we going? How long are we going to be?
Dr. Balis: Only until the end of the hour. My, you ask a lot of questions when you feel cornered.
Mr. Darden: I don't feel cornered, I...
Dr. Balis: Let's go.
Mr. Darden: Great. Here I am coming to you to try to talk about my problems and you're taking me on some kind of psycho-field trip.
Dr. Balis: Isn't the weather nice today? Perfect time of the year--not too cold, not too hot...
Mr. Darden: I need a drink.
Dr. Balis: Nonsense. Oh, you ever been to that restaurant over there? Quite a nice place.
Mr. Darden: No, I usually don't go to a fancy restaurant just to eat by myself. Can we go back now?
Dr. Balis: Keep walking.
Mr. Darden: Great. San Francisco, late afternoon, two guys strolling along pointing at things. We look like a couple of fags.
Dr. Balis: You're not my type.
Mr. Darden: Neither are you. How much farther?
Dr. Balis: Just around the corner. Here.
Mr. Darden: Stacey's? You're taking me to a bookstore?
Dr. Balis: I know this isn't the one you frequent but it will suffice for our little exercise.
Mr. Darden: Oh, great.
Dr. Balis: Aren't you coming in?
Mr. Darden: I've bought my quota of books for this month, thank you.
Dr. Balis: Let's go.
Mr. Darden: You can be a pushy bastard sometimes.
Dr. Balis: Yes, quite. Now, here's the plan: I want you to select a woman in here and approach her.
Mr. Darden: You want me to what?
Dr. Balis: This'll be good for you. A lot of your fear stems from desperately wanting to be liked--which makes it very difficult for you to say anything. You overanalyze what you're going to say, so that you never end up saying anything at all. Here, I'd like you to just gain some practice talking to strangers when you have nothing to lose. I'm not looking for you to pick the woman of your dreams in here but I'd like you to practice speaking with strangers.
Mr. Darden: This is ridiculous. I'm out of here.
Dr. Balis: Leave if you must, Tom, but we both know the only way you're going to get over this fear is if you face it head-on.
Mr. Darden: I've already told you I've been trying to go out and meet people. I don't need you holding my hand when I actually do it.
Dr. Balis: You've also indicated your encounters ended in failure because you felt incapable of making conversation.
Mr. Darden: Well, suppose I do approach one of these women here...what the hell do I say? "Hey, baby, I'd like to be your page-turner?"
Dr. Balis: No, this is a bookstore, not a bar. Say whatever comes to mind, within reason, of course. Please try. I'll be over there in the health and science section.
Mr. Darden: Okay, I'll do it, already. Jesus, this is crazy. Okay, get a hold of yourself, Tom. How about her?
Dr. Balis: The brunette reading the magazine? Nice choice. Good luck.
Mr. Darden: This is so bizarre.
Dr. Balis: Excuse me, could you tell me if you have a book in stock by Ben Watt called, "Patient?"
[Dr. Balis and Mr. Darden separate and then rejoin each other after a time.]
Dr. Balis: Hello Tom.
Mr. Darden: Were you watching?
Dr. Balis: I glanced over my shoulder while you approached her. I'm assuming from that smile that it went well? What did she say?
Mr. Darden: If I recall her exact words, she said, "Go fuck yourself."
Dr. Balis: Charming. What did you say to her to evoke such a response?
Mr. Darden: Well, I noticed she was skimming through Cosmopolitan, so I stood beside her and commented that I enjoyed taking the quizzes they have in that magazine.
Dr. Balis: And then?
Mr. Darden: Well, that's when she told me to go fuck myself.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Mr. Darden: So I guess that's it, then. Some people can approach women, others get stuck with a jar of Vaseline and a Penthouse.
Dr. Balis: Tom, don't get discouraged by this. The point of this exercise was not to necessarily win someone over with your wit and charm, but to work on establishing communication in the light of uncomfortable circumstances.
Mr. Darden: It's true that when I finally did muster the strength to say something to her--just to get it out of my mouth--I felt a lot better.
Dr. Balis: You see? That's wonderful! Of course her reaction was a bit crude and uncalled for, but don't blame yourself for her attitude. Rejection is a part of life, Tom. You're going to run into that regardless of how silver-tongued you might be. I'd like to continue this type of exercise during our next session, but we'll keep it in the office the second time around. Can you come by this Friday at the same time as our normal session?
Mr. Darden: Okay.
Dr. Balis: See you then.
Mr. Darden: What, you're just going to stay here?
Dr. Balis: Oh, well I'm buying a few books. Take care!
Mr. Darden: See you later.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Thomas Darden's Transcripts Transcripts of Thomas Darden's Communications
Button to Thomas Darden's Patient File Thomas Darden's Patient File

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