Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 02/06/98

Saturday, January 31, 1998

Sunday, February 1, 1998

Monday, February 2, 1998

4 pm. Fourth Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia was ebullient about her new job--she apologized for twirling into my office and told me that she was "giddy about life." She launched right into the sexually-oriented gossip around SII, most of it seemingly revolving around my patients, although Olivia didn't know that. We spoke about Olivia's current relationship with her father, which she admitted was strained. Although her father is not speaking to her and avoiding her calls, Olivia believes that he is too concerned about being the perfect father for him to give her the silent treatment for long. Olivia found a picture of herself at the age of about five or six taken at some sort of dinosaur-themed attraction. She was very surprised that she didn't remember ever going to the park. I told her that memories are often suppressed but that they return at the oddest times. We spoke a bit about using a journal, and Olivia was afraid that she would feel guilty for not making entries in it. I assured her that there was no pressure but that I thought it would be helpful.

Tuesday, February 3, 1998

Wednesday, February 4, 1998

4 pm. Thirty-Third Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine was quite disheartened during today's session. She recently passed her thirty-third birthday--she called it "Christage" or the age that Christ was when he died--and it seems to have thrown her a bit. She acknowledges her success in business and her career, but now sees those accomplishments as empty, without social relevance. She was captivated by the idea of doing something that would help others, or perhaps involving the arts. I suspect that while her desire for "social relevance" (as she defines it) is genuine, that her malaise towards her own career--and her current view that it doesn't represent accomplishment--will be short-lived. At one point, with little prompting from me, Katherine realized that this pressing desire to follow a dream had a lot in common with her father's need to go to Alaska and become a bush pilot. She saw the commonality as a point of understanding, but she envied her father the clear direction that his dream gave him. Her dream of social relevance is much more nebulous. Katherine told me about a folk song that she heard at Phil's, something about 'if someone doesn't die by the age of Christ that their story is growing old.' Katherine sees a metaphorical link to her own life. She can be reborn if she abandons her present position, and all that she's accomplished, to start a new life. I'm going to avoid reading too much into Katherine's depressed state this week and wait to see if it persists.

5 pm. Thirty-First Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex is making real progress coming to terms with the childhood sexual abuse he suffered. He sees it as one area in his life over which he has no current control, and he has a deep-seated feeling of guilt because he believes that he was partly responsible for being abused--he derived some pleasure from the sexual acts that were taking place. With Benny, that feeling of responsibility is even more pronounced because, although Benny clearly abused Alex, Alex loved him and was willingly expressing that emotion through sex. Alex doesn't want to feel like a victim. Alex finds that he has to look at the memories of his past sexual activity, some of which he eagerly participated in, and now must reinterpret them as abuse. As he opens up to me in our sessions, he's opening up more and more to Luke and the others around him. Although he hasn't felt comfortable sharing the worst of it, he has told Luke about Benny and Roly. Luke is being supportive. Alex is also trying to disassociate himself from the reality of Benny and Joe. He told me that he sometimes feels that it wasn't real--as if it is a story that he saw on television instead of something that actually happened to him. It's an odd paradox that as Alex comes to terms with these events from his past, he struggles to ignore and repress them. Alex wrote Benny a cathartic letter of forgiveness that would be difficult to characterize. Alex first says that Benny was trying to protect him when he broke off their relationship--that Benny must have had an inkling of the legal trouble he was about to suffer. But then Alex chides Benny for finding a younger boy than him--and concludes that Benny wasn't interested in Alex as a person but really only wanted his youth. Alex concludes the letter by saying that he won't testify against Benny in court. I know that Alex has often expressed how much he is looking forward to testifying against Benny, but I suspected that much of that was bravado. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Alex changes his mind again and decides to testify--and I told him as much. Alex now feels that he wants to put Benny behind him and thinks that he can only do that if he isn't part of the trial. I decided not to push Alex on this point. Luke told Alex about how he feels responsible for an ex-girlfriend's car accident that left her brain damaged. They each told the other that the past didn't matter and they concluded the evening with sex, although Alex says that he felt distant. I told Alex that he shouldn't be surprised if his interest in sex ebbs and flows while he comes to terms with what happened to him. A variation in sexual interest is a common reaction to therapy of this type. I told Alex to make use of the support that his friends and family are offering him. He seemed to understand and agree.

Thursday, February 5, 1998

4 pm. Sixty-Eighth Session with Anna Green. Anna had the Sydney Flu last week and she's malingering just a bit because the flu had the effect of driving Kathy from the apartment, at least temporarily. Kathy is afraid of getting her baby sick, so Anna has wielded the flu like a sword. With Kathy out of the apartment, Anna feels that she can really talk to Martin, although he is having to cover for Kathy at the store while she is in Sacramento with her aunt. I can tell that Anna is having thoughts about abandoning Martin to his fate, but she feels guilty just walking out on him. She thinks that Martin does not love Kathy, and in fact may hate her. Kathy has apparently been hinting that she will abuse the child, in a manner similar to the way she was herself abused, if Martin abandons her. But Anna also sees Kathy using the baby as her ticket to the good life. Greg and Caren have come back into Anna's life and they have spread the story around SII about how Martin, affianced to Anna, knocked up their roommate. Anna is being treated with sympathy by her co-workers and Martin is being treated with disgust. I can see that it is giving Anna a certain type of satisfaction. Anna appears to have been a bit more honest with her father, surprisingly. She apparently even hinted to him that they had been "experimenting"--presumably so that she still has the possibility of repairing the relationship between Martin and her parents if she is successful in marrying him. At the end of the session, Anna chided me on not having taking her up on her offer of having a relationship--she pointed out obliquely that she wouldn't be having these problems if I had. Unfortunately, I'm somewhat sympathetic to that argument, but I have to realize that it's my own self interest that motivates me to think in that direction. It's amazing that the psychiatrists who've been caught in trysts with their patients, and have ascribed their sexual involvement to some sort of therapeutic motive, only adopt that form of therapy with patients who were sexually appealing. Apparently that form of direct "therapeutic" sexual involvement doesn't work with the ugly or the unappealing. I may wish to whisk Anna away from Martin and into my bed, but I must ardently resist those selfish impulses and not fall into the trap of rationalizing my desires as really in Anna's interest.

Friday, February 6, 1998

9 am. I received a fax from the Anonymous Faxer. Sometimes I think I understand the image, but sometimes the meaning escapes me. This one depicts a naked male figure sitting in a stereotypical Zen yoga meditative position, his head replaced with a large, old-style rotary telephone. Should I become literal in my interpretation--he's thinking about calling? The Faxer is not above going for visual puns. Or is it an image about losing your identity through the anonymous communication with others that the telephone offers. It's not face to face communication--the way you look and your body image is completely hidden to the person on the other side of the telephone wire. Perhaps the anonymity of the telephone (and by extension, the Internet) is just the thing for someone who wishes to change their gender. Perhaps I just need to meditate more on this image! After I received this fax, I tried e-mailing the Anonymous Faxer, but the e-mail bounced. That form of communication is now clearly denied me.

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