Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 03/13/98

Saturday, March 7, 1998

Sunday, March 8, 1998

Monday, March 9, 1998

Tuesday, March 10, 1998

Wednesday, March 11, 1998

4 pm. Thirty-Seventh Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine spent a good deal of time during today's session talking about Alex. We even talked about her concerns that I might be performing therapy on Alex through her, or using the information that I glean about Alex through my sessions with Katherine to treat Alex. I assured her that I keep the sessions separate in my mind, and that Alex is only relevant in Katherine's sessions to the extent that he is part of Katherine's life. I might have been a bit disingenuous however. If Katherine told me a shocking piece of news about Alex, I'm not sure that it wouldn't color my feelings about it, especially if it was something that Alex chose not to share with me. But it hasn't happened yet, and I don't think there is any serious ethical issue to be grappled with here. If I learn something about a patient from a source outside of therapy, that's completely legitimate. I would only have to be careful not to violate Katherine's confidentiality by disclosing to Alex what I had learned during my sessions with Katherine. Actually, I'm somewhat surprised that they are becoming such close friends. But they are. Katherine told Alex that Jake was the buyer of his paintings, but she didn't tell Jake that she has told Alex. Alex hasn't confronted Jake, so Jake is continuing to spin out the lie about the anonymous art buyer. Katherine realized that she has to tell Jake that she told Alex. I agree that she should not spend her psychic energy trying to protect the social secrets of others. Katherine did tell me a bit of news: Alex has been subpoenaed to appear as a witness at Benny's trial. Katherine was proud that Alex was able to be so open with her, and that she responded without being judgmental or trying to influence him one way or the other. In fact, Katherine was so pleased with her natural ability to communicate with Alex and with other teenagers she met at the Youth Alliance that she has decided to take on an active volunteer role working with kids through art. I'm not exactly sure what she has in mind, but it sounded positive to me. I probed a bit to see if she had some other motive in undertaking this project--particularly if she felt like she was under some obligation to take care of other people--but I sensed none of that. She seems to want to feel useful to others and to society as a whole by giving these kids a little boost. I told her that I was proud of her, and suddenly she spoke very softly and asked me if I thought that "daddy" would be proud of her. She seemed like she was about ten years old when she asked it. That one question brought home for me the enormity of the load she's been carrying--the feeling of being unworthy of daddy's praise, somehow not worthy enough to stop him from leaving her. Soon afterwards--perhaps for the first time in our sessions together--she brought up the question of having kids. She seems unsure about whether she wants children herself. I think she sees the decision in terms of her circumstances--she seems determined not to repeat the mistakes her parents made with her. But as quickly as Katherine brought up the subject, she wished to drop it. At the end of the session, Katherine wanted some techniques to enable her to remember her dreams. She's been dreaming about ravens some more, and thinks that they have something to teach her--something that she's been forgetting. I gave her some techniques adapted from lucid dreaming studies. She promised to share some of her dreams with me, and urged me to brush up on my Freud in the area of dream interpretation.

5 pm. Thirty-Sixth Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex was subpoenaed to testify in Benny's trial and the trial starts tomorrow. I am very worried about Alex's ability to hold up in that setting. He was so upset about the prospect of testifying that I probably didn't do all that I should have to prepare him for the ordeal that he is probably going to face. Especially under cross examination, I am concerned that things are going to come out with which Alex isn't prepared to cope. I hope that Alex is strong enough to undergo the trial and not just leave me with pieces to pick up at its conclusion. When things are darkest for Alex, he takes solace from listing the good things that are going on in his life. It's almost like a mantra for him, and I should echo it when he's going through the toughest moments. So the possibility of a job at the Youth Alliance, which Katherine and Jake have had a part in arranging, may help Alex keep his head above water during the trial. Subconsciously, I think Alex always knew that he had to testify. That's what the ghost of Roly was all about. Katherine told me that she didn't tell Alex what she thought he should do. But she represents the forces of order and society to Alex, I'm certain. If Alex wanted Katherine to approve of him, he knew that he would have to testify. Alex hasn't been sleeping, which is very bad. He's at his worst when he gets wired in that strange, almost autistic way. Katherine told Alex about Jake and his paintings. Alex went and confronted Jake and ended up saying a bunch of things that he now realizes he shouldn't. Alex is still impulsive with his anger, but at least this time he wasn't physically abusive. Tony and Ralph have become friends and they both are suffering from HIV. They've become interested in assisted suicide and have had long philosophical discussions about Dr. Kevorkian. They've apparently both joined the Hemlock Society and Ralph has asked Alex to assist with his suicide if it comes to that. Alex is strongly resisting. It's bad enough that Alex thinks Ralph is going to die--Ralph is one of the most important people in Alex's life--but to assist at his suicide! For Alex, it would be a confirmation of his lifelong sense of responsibility for the deaths of those that he's close to. Alex demanded to know my opinions on assisted suicide but I demurred. I only hope that Ralph and Tony have fastened upon this philosophical argument as a way of keeping Alex's mind off the trial.

Thursday, March 12, 1998

4 pm. Seventy-Second Session with Anna Green. Apparently Kathy's baby tested positive for Down's syndrome, because Kathy had a surprise abortion. Anna doesn't know why Kathy changed her mind. Kathy had been missing for three days. She came home with Martin, who serendipitously found her at the clinic and was able to help her through the emotional ordeal of the abortion. During the three days that Kathy was missing, Anna and Kathy's Aunt Helen underwent convulsions of worry. They imagined that she committed suicide and they pictured themselves being called by the police to identify the body. They filed a missing persons report and Anna even went to an S&M club that Kathy frequents with Aunt Helen in tow. There, they learned that Kathy was performing acts of self-mutilation again on stage--apparently there's an extra kick if the performer is pregnant. At the dungeon, they also ran across Martin, who was trying to hide. He wasn't alone. He was under the domination of a woman whom Anna believes had an air of ownership about her which she could only have adopted if Martin had been her slave for some time. I gather Anna believes that's where he's been spending his last few weeks. Anna found a picture in Martin's inimitable style of this woman and showed it to me. Although unsigned, the work is clearly Martin's. The interesting thing is that Anna wasn't at all disturbed by Martin's activities. I think she is continuing the process of distancing herself emotionally from him, although Anna hasn't admitted to herself that she is about to leave Martin. I think it's obvious that Anna is planning on splitting up with Martin. But Anna was in such a degree of worry while she was at the dungeon that she just didn't have the emotional energy for jealousy. I found Anna more jumbled in her thoughts during this session than she's been in a long time. She reminded me somewhat of the Anna that I first saw in these sessions, over a year and a half ago. Then she had just broken up with her boyfriend and was having troubles at her job, which is similar to the complaints that she has now. She is worried about how they are perceiving her at work lately, but she didn't talk about diminished work performance. Rather, it was the embarrassment of having to bring Aunt Helen with her because Helen was too worried about Kathy to be left alone. Anna has given herself four weeks to untangle her life. She picked a duration of four weeks because it was the longest period that she felt that she could stand, and it seemed long enough to resolve certain things. But when I pressed her on what untangling meant, she really couldn't tell me. She doesn't know what she really wants. All through the session, there seemed to be hints of her past attachment to me. I am Anna's fall back love interest, and when her relationships get rocky, she turns back to her fantasy about a romantic involvement with her psychiatrist. At the end of the session, Anna acted like a young girl, almost walking out petulantly and then finally requesting permission to leave.

Friday, March 13, 1998

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