Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 03/20/98

Saturday, March 14, 1998

Sunday, March 15, 1998

Monday, March 16, 1998

4 pm. Ninth Session with Olivia Stillwell. The effects on Olivia's psyche of the violent physical assault outside the bar seem to be diminishing with time. She put it rather well--that each time she describes the attack, she omits details. Now she's got a matter-of-fact version where she got mugged outside a bar and the attackers are going to escape prosecution--no elaboration at all. Although I might worry about a persistent reluctance to relate the details, it seems rather that Olivia doesn't feel like she needs to tell the story anymore. I told Olivia that I thought she was letting go of her anger. We also talked about her fear. While she's not as paranoid as she was immediately following the attack, she described a rather daunting list of security measures that she's adopted to help assure her safety. Although each of the precautions by themselves seem reasonable, obviously you can allow security concerns to rule your life. But for now, they seem to be a response rationally related to a horrific stimulus. Olivia has gotten a puppy--she showed me pictures--and, although she got this animal because she wanted protection, she instead feels protective towards it. The way she was gushing about Sherman the puppy, I wouldn't be surprised if she threw herself on an attacker to protect her dog. But obviously I think it's a positive if she refocuses her attention on others as opposed to directing her concern inward. Additionally, the dog will force her to go outside and won't allow her to barricade herself within her apartment all the time. I've seen a lot of patients exhibit the beginning symptoms of agoraphobia after becoming victims of a violent assault. At the end of the session, Olivia told me about her intention to talk directly to Katherine Lippard about her relationship with Alex. Olivia said that, while she didn't believe the rumors were true, she thought Katherine should know about them. But as she told me of her intent to talk to Katherine, it seemed as if her resolve dissipated. And I can't exactly see how Olivia is going to go to Katherine and tell her, "I didn't believe it myself, of course, but do you know everyone at work thinks you're a child molester?"

Tuesday, March 17, 1998

Wednesday, March 18, 1998

4 pm. Thirty-Eighth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine is clearly questioning her relationship with Jake and whether she wants it to continue. The lack of intimacy issues, which I believed have long plagued their relationship, have caused her to wonder if she is getting enough "return" on her "investment." Katherine said that her relationship with Jake is hard to maintain. The analogy that she used was that she's invested in a money pit and she's spending so much time patching leaks that she doesn't have an opportunity to look out the windows and enjoy the view. But this seemed to be one of the first times that I really believed that Katherine was considering calling it quits with Jake. She even commented that its nice that she's the one who's considering abandoning him, rather than the other way around. It's ironic in some ways because she described a series of conversations where each was really trying to understand and accommodate the other. But, ultimately, I don't think that Jake is willing to offer Katherine the emotional commitment she desires most. Katherine said that they have not resumed sexual relations, although she said that she's not using sex as a weapon. In fact, Katherine got quite animated as she talked about how she has no respect for women who do that, and how using sex in that manner is akin to prostitution. But from Jake's point of view, he's clearly being punished. Katherine asked me if I kept up with the financial news and whether I was an investor in the stock market. She was sort of cagey about it--I didn't know what she was getting at. She promised to bring me in some clippings presumably of a financial nature. Katherine told me a bit about the Art Alliance. She's working with the director, Josh Massey--a high school art teacher who decided to use art to boost "unlucky" kids' self esteem. Katherine is going to use her financial skills to help apply for grants for the Art Alliance. At the end of the session, she told me that she looked up that anthropology professor from Berkeley that she met in the park as she looked at crows. This idiot wants to give Katherine some drug and lead her in a ritual so that Katherine can go on a dream quest. As I tried to warn Katherine away from this course of action, Katherine would have none of it. She shut me down over and over again, until I realized that it was futile to try to persuade her not to embark on this route. Katherine seems to believe that the drug he is planning on administering is a placebo--I think it's more likely to be peyote, a traditional Native American dream quest drug. The idea that this "professor" barely knows Katherine but is willing to give her drugs is just unbelievable! I know he's from Berkeley, but I thought the sixties were firmly in the past.

5 pm. Thirty-Seventh Session with Alex Rozzi. Benny's trial is locked in pretrial motions. Alex, who probably got his impression of the legal system from television programs, is frustrated by the interminable delays. Apparently, there is some problem with the physical evidence in the case. The judge is expected to rule on whether or not it will be excluded from the trial. I presume that it will take some time to pick a jury as well. But other than Alex's frustration, and the feeling of his world turning upside down when Benny looked at him in court, Alex is handling the situation better than I expected. Alex went with Luke to Luke's father's beach house in Carmel over the weekend. Alex really loves it there. And he was able to open up to Luke and tell him about Joe. But Luke didn't think it changed anything. Alex said that Luke hadn't been pressuring Alex for sex during all the time when Alex felt incapable of physical intimacy. But after Alex opened up, it seemed to release the floodgates of sexual desire. Alex was able to engage in sex with Luke again, and described it in very positive terms. I've seen situations where a breakthrough in intimacy can overcome weeks or months of sexual reluctance. I'm hopeful that Alex will not revert back to become sexually withdrawn again. Alex went to the gallery to talk with Jake and tell him that he was no longer angry about the art purchase. But Jake apparently ducked him. Alex is happy with the Art Alliance and has volunteered to paint some scenery backdrops for them. Roly is still haunting Alex's dreams and seems to still want him to fix something which Alex can't identify. Roly seemed to indicate that whatever he was to fix was in addition to testifying against Benny, which was my earlier interpretation. I asked Alex to put off serious consideration of the meaning of his dreams of Roly until after the trial. I still believe the dreams are likely to vanish once Alex isn't under this kind of stress.

Thursday, March 19, 1998

4 pm. Seventy-Third Session with Anna Green. While overtaxed at work with the demands of a big project, Anna is also trying to deal with the emotional tidal waves at home from both Martin and Kathy. It turns out that the test for Down's syndrome came back as negative. Kathy didn't abort the child because of a birth defect, as everyone suspected. Whatever her reasons are, they are not obvious. Anna had always maintained that it was the fact of her pregnancy which gave Kathy leverage in the relationship. Now, Martin confesses to having a murderous rage towards Kathy. He is adopting the conceit that he would have liked to have the baby if it wasn't defective. I'm not sure that's true, but perhaps Martin is using the fact of the abortion as an excuse to separate himself from the relationship. Anna believes that Kathy is interested in harming herself and desires to manipulate things in such a way as to end her life as a victim by Martin's hand. I'm not sure whether Anna really believes that's true, but she certainly feels that there is very little hope for their relationship, even though Martin is outwardly pretending that everything is fine and they are all just a happy little threesome. It sounds like Kathy has them both hostage--both Martin and Anna are afraid to leave because they worry about her reaction. Anna still maintains that her "four week resolution" is holding firm and that she plans to leave in three weeks if she can stand it that long. I worry about Anna and I really hope that she'll be able to keep her resolve and get out of this situation before something bad happens. I told her that I probably could find a good intervention program for Kathy if it becomes necessary.

Friday, March 20, 1998

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