Transcript of 18th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Thomas Darden, Friday, September 12, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Tom! Come on in.
Mr. Darden: All right.
Dr. Balis: I tried calling you back Thursday night but there was no answer.
Mr. Darden: I must have gone to buy more beer.
Dr. Balis: Some of the things you said left me rather concerned, especially when you told me you were a loser and that I should kill you.
Mr. Darden: Just stupid things I say when I'm drunk. I was actually reciting the lyrics of a Beck song.
Dr. Balis: Beck?
Mr. Darden: He's a...oh, nevermind. It doesn't matter. I was feeling like shit that night, so I drank about five beers, ran out, and had to go buy more.
Dr. Balis: So you were driving that night, too?
Mr. Darden: Yes, although that was before all this traffic bullshit happened. All this week, I worked from home because the freeways have been too congested. It took me over an hour just to get here. This is getting ridiculous.
Dr. Balis: You're referring to the effects of the BART strike?
Mr. Darden: Yup. I've never seen so many cars and buses take to the streets since this happened. The strike is really slowing the city down to a crawl. I never realized how many people depend on those trains to get to where they're going. I guess it's a good thing I can do all my work from a laptop and modem.
Dr. Balis: True.
Mr. Darden: And it got me thinking why I should even go to work at all? If I can successfully do my job remotely, why not do so on a permanent basis?
Dr. Balis: Well, I'm sure the reason you aren't normally working from home has a lot to do with the type of support work you do. I imagine employees call a particular number to reach your helpdesk group when they need assistance, which you can't answer from your apartment.
Mr. Darden: Yes, but the bulk of the problems sent to us come via e-mail. So really there's no need to even have that number. They could very easily do away with it.
Dr. Balis: I'm sure that would be perfect for you, not having to interact with anyone face-to-face.
Mr. Darden: Don't start with me. I'm talking pragmatics here. It's more logical in my mind to do this remotely if it's technically feasible. Why travel 15 miles just to sit in a cubicle and accomplish the same damn thing?
Dr. Balis: Earlier you told me how driving your car was the only means of freedom you had away from people. Now you want to work from your apartment. This is not a particularly healthy turn for you. How do you expect to cope with the social environment you'll face at SII's awards function in the Bahamas?
Mr. Darden: I don't. I'm going to find some way out of it.
Dr. Balis: Why?
Mr. Darden: I've already told you, damn it! I will be thrown into a crowd of over 300 people I don't know from branches all across the country. I don't have any friends who also work at SII, so there will be this pressure for me to join conversations and groups where I don't belong, like being a third wheel. It's like in gym class where one guy picks people for his team and chooses you last. I'm participating, but not because I really want to or anybody really wants me to. I don't like parties. I don't like mingling with people. Why is it so wrong to want to just be alone? Why do I have to "network" or whatever the fuck they call it now? I don't want anything to do with it.
Dr. Balis: Were you picked last in gym class activities as a kid?
Mr. Darden: A few times...who the fuck cares? I have never fit in, Charles. Growing up, I was always the loner, the outcast. I stayed home all through high school, never going out with friends. People say that underage drinking and sex is wrong but all the people who did that in school seemed to have turned out better than I have.
Dr. Balis: This fear of rejection is very deeply rooted in you, isn't it?
Mr. Darden: I don't fear those bastards. Fear is not the issue. Fuck people. Fuck what they think. I couldn't care less.
Dr. Balis: If that were true, you'd have no qualms about going to this Bahama function.
Mr. Darden: It's different. I'm being asked to participate in an activity I don't want to participate in. And the only reason I didn't immediately refuse the offer my boss made is because I have to play the fucking corporate game of "yes, sir, no sir" to get anywhere. If I had refused, it would have had a profoundly negative impact on me in terms of my relationship with management.
Dr. Balis: Not necessarily.
Mr. Darden: You don't know dick. You've been sitting in this office too long. That's the way the game works out there. You play by their rules or you end up getting fucked for life.
Dr. Balis: You're just as much a player in the game as anyone else, and therefore possess just as much power to change the course of the game, if you wish to use that analogy.
Mr. Darden: That's right. That's exactly why I didn't turn down the offer to go on this trip to represent the helpdesk.
Dr. Balis: But you said you were going to find a way out of it.
Mr. Darden: I can now come up with some sort of excuse that would seem more legitimate than if I had turned down the offer immediately, yes.
Dr. Balis: Such as?
Mr. Darden: I don't know! Tell them my mother is sick and she needs my help or something. If I tell them it's for personal reasons, that's all they need to know. They can then get a replacement for me if I announce it soon enough.
Dr. Balis: Sounds like a perfect plan to me. Perhaps you could hire someone to go out and do your grocery shopping and run your errands for you, too?
Mr. Darden: Funny.
Dr. Balis: What's the worst thing in your mind that can happen if you manage to get on this plane and arrive in the Bahamas in October?
Mr. Darden: I picture 300 people meeting at the reception by the swimming pool in front of the hotel, all drinking and mingling and laughing and having a good time.
Dr. Balis: Sounds like a nice scenario. And where are you when all this is happening?
Mr. Darden: I'm holding one opened beer and one unopened beer, sitting by myself noticeably outside the circle of people, staring off into the night, drinking in silent contemplation of fading away, hoping no one sees me and points out to others how anti-social I am. Either that or I end up staying in my hotel room and watching the festivities below from a balcony.
Dr. Balis: What about the awards ceremony itself? When you're asked to come onstage? Where are you then?
Mr. Darden: Wherever I am, I intend to be quite sloshed. Most likely I will still be in my hotel room or perhaps just standing outside of the auditorium, listening as my name is called and the awkward silence and mutterings when I don't show up.
Dr. Balis: Perhaps you're not in a condition to participate in this event after all. You truly seem distraught over this. I believe that if you do muster up the strength to board the plane, you'd probably do exactly as you suggest.
Mr. Darden: You see! That's what I've been trying to tell you all this time! Finally you're beginning to understand!
Dr. Balis: Tom, I know you probably won't like this suggestion, but have you considered returning to the medication?
Mr. Darden: Get back on the Librium? That's your fucking answer? Drug me up again! Admit it! You're confounded by me, aren't you? You are realizing now that there is no changing my character. This is who I am. This is who I will continue to be.
Dr. Balis: I believe no such thing. Change can happen when the will is there. My only suggestion to you is to have the courage and will power to force yourself to go to this function; to force yourself to interact with people, no matter how painful; and to force yourself on stage to accept that award. These are barriers I feel are important for you to encounter and overcome if you hope to succeed at change.
Mr. Darden: It is not in my nature to participate in social activities like these, period. I don't feel these barriers are important in my life. I'd sooner find a different route.
Dr. Balis: The easiest one.
Mr. Darden: The only one that fits my nature. Look, I better get going. I'm starting to get really pissed off, and the traffic is just going to make things worse. Can we pick this up later?
Dr. Balis: If you insist. Next week?
Mr. Darden: Make it two.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Goodbye, Tom.
Mr. Darden: Goodbye.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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

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