Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 02/13/98

Saturday, February 7, 1998

Sunday, February 8, 1998

Monday, February 9, 1998

4 pm. Fifth Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia was suddenly assaulted and beaten by two assailants who attacked her and her friend Stephanie as they left a bar. Olivia suffered a facial laceration together with a number of contusions on one eye, a cheekbone and her nose. She was wearing a neck brace, and I detected a slight but not obvious limp when she came into the office. Her strained neck seemed to be giving her the most difficulty and she said she was in pain and needed painkillers during the session. Stephanie was hurt more; she suffered a broken rib and lost two front teeth. Apparently, both the police and her boss at work mistakenly thought that Olivia and Stephanie were engaged in a homosexual relationship and that the attack was some kind of hate crime directed randomly against gays. The perpetrators were not apprehended. I wonder if the attack has anything to do with Olivia's Internet stalker. Olivia exhibited a fairly blasé attitude about the incident, but I could sense that she was trying to mask a deeply felt sense of physical insecurity, exacerbated by her recent push for freedom from her smothering father.

Tuesday, February 10, 1998

Wednesday, February 11, 1998

4 pm. Thirty-Fourth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine wanted to talk about everything other than herself today. We even discussed the weather. She talked about her conversation with Alex and sympathized with his difficulties. She said that she'd like to "fix it," although she knew that she was providing a valuable service by just listening. Katherine said that her problems seemed more manageable after hearing his, although I cautioned her to avoid comparing her situation to those of others. Katherine has cheered somewhat from our last session and she no longer talks about imminently quitting her job. However, she did say that she was interested in joining a group which evaluates where United Way money is spent. I told her that I thought that was an excellent use of her talents. She has also set Sunday as being a deadline for a showdown she wants to have with Jake. She feels that he's just going through the motions and she also feels that she can't reach him anymore--that there's an absence of intimacy. We did talk about her father near the end of the session. Katherine said that she's still unable to feel closure. I asked about whether she's made a decision on trying to locate him, and she said that she's still wavering. She asked my opinion and I demurred, but she insisted. I finally told her that I didn't think it likely to be a panacea, and that we could work with the feelings that she has inside without resort to outside circumstances. Actually, primarily I'm afraid he'll be dead or indifferent and that the truth will make matters worse. Katherine clearly wanted my approval to her plan to hire detectives, and she withdrew somewhat when I answered her honestly. She cheered though when she found an excuse to end the session early. Katherine is in Texas next week, so we scheduled an appointment for two weeks hence.

5 pm. Thirty-Second Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex is developing a friendship with Katherine Lippard and was able to open up to her sufficiently to explain about Benny, Roly, and his mother, although he couldn't bring himself to talk about Joe. She reacted with sympathy and understanding, and Alex felt good about opening up to her. I encouraged him to continue to do so. Katherine wanted to do something meaningful--here's a chance for her to do some good for Alex. I suspect that she also bought one of his paintings--an anonymous buyer purchased a painting, and Alex was elated. He really wants to know who the buyer was. He even suspected that I might have bought it. Alex took his mother for a doctor's visit and got a chance to see the baby on an ultrasound monitor. As it does for many new fathers, the ultrasound image made his little brother real for Alex. Now he is full of anticipation over what the baby will be like. His mother exhibited her tendency towards labile emotions--shooting Alex an unmotivated look of hatred. Alex responded by staring her down--a much better response than the normal volatile reactions she inspires in him. She backed down and Alex credited her with a lot of insight and thought about her behavior that was probably merely his optimistic projections. Alex's mother failed to protect him from Joe, and didn't respond with assistance when he told her, at age eleven, what was going on. Alex told me that he was ten or eleven when Joe raped him. Joe was five or six years older and a neighbor. Benny apparently came upon Joe and Alex while they were engaged in a sexual act and apparently beat Joe up and essentially took Alex for himself. Alex is still trying to work out his conflicting feelings about both Benny and Joe. He feels that he loved Benny, and rationalizes much of what Benny did as Benny's effort to protect him. He also has a tendency to blame himself for being victimized by Joe, probably as a result of having some sexually pleasurable feelings and misinterpreting them as equating to some form of consent to being sexually abused. I tried to get Alex to realize how vulnerable he was at eleven years old, but Alex retreated into a daze--I thought he might be taking drugs, but Alex assured me that he was just spacing out. I imagine that zoning out is a coping technique, but I urged Alex to retain his focus.

Thursday, February 12, 1998

10 am. Ninth Session with Sharon Lough. I'm confused by Sharon. While my instincts tell me that she's not actually suicidal, when I review what she's told me, I have to dispassionately conclude that she is a significant suicide risk. Next session, I must conduct a formal suicide assessment to determine if hospitalization is warranted. I'm particularly concerned about taking that step because winning Sharon's trust has been difficult and she would clearly see involuntary commitment as a betrayal. Sharon has some undiagnosed gynecological complaint involving irregular bleeding, dizziness, and nausea over a two week period. It sounded to me like an ectopic pregnancy, but Sharon assured me that she hasn't had sex and so can't be pregnant. However, Sharon claims to welcome the disorder as a means of passively killing herself. She fantasizes about having ovarian cancer, and sees dying in that manner as a romantic tragedy. She even toyed with the idea that she might have AIDS. Sharon became dizzy during the session and threw up on my floor. She refused my urging to go to the emergency room and assured me that she would make an appointment to see her doctor post-haste. Sharon's pet ferret died violently last week when it was attacked by the neighbor's dog. Sharon sees her inability to protect it as further evidence of her own inadequacy. She also mentioned that she hates her job.

4 pm. Sixty-Ninth Session with Anna Green. Anna came in today with Martin. I had always pictured him as kind of tall and thin, but actually, he's a little short and chunky. Well, perhaps average height--five foot seven? He has a dark complexion and black hair, but piercing blue eyes. He is clearly of a mixed ethnic background but it's not clear what--perhaps a bit of Indian or Burmese ancestry. He's not particularly good looking, but he's not unattractive. He was clearly uncomfortable being here, and Anna tried to totally dominate both him and the conversation. He was barely able to get a word in without Anna jumping in and expressing his opinions for him. Actually, when Martin could speak, he was fairly consistent--he's unwilling to abandon his child and Kathy, however much Anna wishes for him to do so. I didn't perceive a great affection towards Kathy from Martin, but he seems resigned to his fate. Frankly, I didn't sense all that much affection from him towards Anna either. Several times during the session, he told her that he would understand it if she left him, that he wasn't expecting her to wait for him, and so on. I got the impression that, although he had a lot of affection for Anna in the past, he might welcome it if Anna left. Given his new circumstances, and with Anna's continual hostility towards Kathy, I got the feeling that Martin views Anna as merely an encumbrance. Martin did indicate that Kathy might have some psychological difficulties that could lead her to abuse the child--this wasn't just Anna's perception. However, Martin didn't think Kathy was likely to do anything immediately, and he discussed alleviating some of those problems by moving Kathy, the baby, and himself in with his parents. To me, that sounded a lot like he is planning on marrying Kathy. Kathy is apparently suffering from severe morning sickness. Anna said that Kathy is probably faking it, because she's at fourteen weeks and morning sickness usually ends by the twelfth week. I told Anna that many women suffer from vomiting during pregnancy well past the fourteenth week. Anna took that as evidence that I wasn't on her side. Kathy also quit her job at the adult book store, which Anna took as further evidence that Kathy is looking to Martin as her meal ticket. At the end of the session, Anna stormed out, and Martin ran after her, promising to take her out for a nice dinner--as if that's going to solve these problems.

Friday, February 13, 1998

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