Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 04/03/98

Saturday, March 28, 1998

Sunday, March 29, 1998

Monday, March 30, 1998

2 pm. Initial Session with Nicole Ulreich. Nicole is a young woman about 15 years of age. She actually seemed quite a bit younger than her age would indicate. She is tall and very slim with long hair that has been dyed cherry red. She's a sophomore in high school. She also reports an extensive history of poly drug abuse, including experience with marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and several others. She expresses particularly concern about her closest friend, Angela, dying of a drug overdose. Apparently, Angela isn't as circumspect in her drug use as Nicole is. Nicole is torn between not wanting to get Angela in trouble and leaving Angela to get sucked in deeper to addiction. Nicole explained that she gets these drugs from rich "preps"--boys from her high school that are often jocks who live affluent lifestyles. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Nicole is expected to provide sexual favors in return for the drugs she gets at these "parties." Nicole told me that she had a stepfather who frequently beat her and told her that she was worthless. She has somewhat ambivilant feelings towards her current stepfather who does not physically abuse her, but who expressed some distaste for Nicole's friend Angela and for Nicole's ex-boyfriend Jeff. Nicole has a younger half-sister, Dianne, who is three and a half.

4 pm. Tenth Session with Olivia Stillwell. In the context of talking about a date during a junket in Lake Tahoe, Olivia told me that she really hadn't formed any romantic attachments at all in her lifetime. I'm not certain how literally she meant to be taken, but to have Olivia tell it, she just hasn't met the right guy. Her father is pressuring her to pursue legal action against the people who assaulted her, but Olivia wants the entire episode to be buried. She's more than a bit peeved at her father for continuing in his efforts to get legal recourse against the two attackers. Olivia told me that she has been asked by Stephanie to accompany her to North Carolina this month. Perhaps I had been thinking about the initial relationship between Kathy and Anna--I asked Olivia if Stephanie might be interested in having a romantic relationship with her. Olivia just blew up! It was a reaction that seemed quite disproportionate to my question, although I can imagine that my question might have been unexpected. Olivia took my question to mean that I believed that she was a lesbian in her sexual orientation. She was very upset. She then asked me if I was gay. As with all personal questions, I tried to avoid answering, but she took my evasions to be an affirmative response. She clearly has a problem with homosexuality, so when she asked me directly for the third time, I decided to tell her straight out that I wasn't gay. I got the distinct impression that she didn't believe me. At the end of the session, I suggested that we explore some of her family history and I asked her to write down some of her earliest memories, if she could.

Tuesday, March 31, 1998

Wednesday, April 1, 1998

4 pm. Fortieth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine broke up with Jake in what she described as a very civilized fashion. They weighed the pros and cons of continuing together and decided, like cool-headed business people, that they should abandon their investment, or some such drivel. Even when Katherine was talking about how she felt, it sounded like she was in the office. Already, she'd distanced herself so far from Jake that mostly what remained was the sticky matter of actually telling him that it was over. She doesn't realize that she's making a transition to a relationship with Andrew, the peyote-pushing professor, but she dropped a couple of hints that, subconsciously at least, indicate she's thinking about it. Katherine expressed some mild disappointment that Jake wasn't heartbroken by the breakup, but the disappointment she felt was intellectual rather than emotional. I pointed out to her that she should have expected a mild reaction from Jake: one of the reasons that she was breaking up with him was that he was unable to emotionally commit. But Katherine felt that both Jake and she tried to commit, but that they were just the wrong people for each other. Katherine broadly hinted that I should buy some SII stock. She gave me a clipping from yesterday's Wall Street Journal which said that there was a lot of activity in SII stock and that maybe SII was going to be the subject of a take over bid. But now I think I know too much. I just wouldn't feel comfortable buying stock now based on a tip, albeit disguised, from one of my patients. If SII is taken over, it will do more than goose the stock price--I'll probably have to find another practice. Katherine, at the end of the session, indicated that she thought her father would be proud of her for her philanthropic activities. She's strongly motivated by the thought of his approval. If she follows through on her idea to hire detectives and then discovers that he's dead, I wonder if it will remove a fundamental underpinning to her ambitions? I think it would be better if she didn't know her father's fate.

5 pm. Thirty-Ninth Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex finished the trial and Benny was quickly found guilty. Not surprisingly, Alex feels some ambivalence and guilt about the result. Apparently, there was a surprise witness--a childhood acquaintance of Benny--who testified that when they were both about six, Benny molested him using the threat of physical violence. I'm surprised that the prosecution was able to get that in--it seems only tenuously related to the charges against Benny now. But I'm not a lawyer. For the second day of Alex's testimony, Alex's mother was in the courtroom. Alex didn't even see her amongst the sea of faces. I found it interesting that in the context of Alex's new openness with Katherine, Luke, and Ralph, he was appalled that his mother heard any of his testimony. He's convinced that even though his relationship at the moment is good with her, she'll figure out a way to use his admissions in court as ammunition against him. Alex was odd during this session. It seemed to me that he had been smoking cigarettes, although he denied it. He was very tired and quite scattered. I got the impression that he hasn't been sleeping. But Alex told me a very interesting story about his childhood that shed some more light on his underlying feelings of abandonment that pervade much of his social interactions. Although I'm unsure of his age in this anecdote, it seems that when Alex was about seven years old, his best friend was a boy named Jimmy. Alex and he would walk to school together and Alex would frequently go to Jimmy's home after school. Jimmy's mother and Alex's grandmother were good friends and they would often do activities together with the boys. One day, after school, Alex went to Jimmy's house and was surprised to find him not at home. He peeked through a side window and discovered that the house was empty--all the furniture was gone. His grandmother was cryptic about what happened and gave Alex no information. To this day, Alex doesn't know what happened to Jimmy. At the end of the session, Alex told me that he had gone to speak to Jake and to let Jake know that he was no longer angry about the incident with the painting. But it didn't come out that way. Jake and Alex argued again, with Alex remonstrating with Jake about the fictitious anonymous buyer. But at least Alex didn't resort to violence. I complemented Alex on that. Alex tried to brush aside my complement, trying to give me the impression that the only reason he didn't hit Jake was that they were too evenly matched. But I do think that Alex has become much more thoughtful since our first session together.

Thursday, April 2, 1998

4 pm. Seventy-Fifth Session with Anna Green. Anna found that David wasn't a discrete confidant. He told everyone in her department about Anna's membership in the S&M club. Now Anna feels like she is considered the resident expert on whippings, body mutilation, and pleasure through pain. Her boss even had a concerned conversation with her and told her that he really didn't think that she should go in for that "I tie you up and have my way with you sex stuff." Anna is continuing with her plan to extricate herself from her relationship with Martin and Kathy. Although she hasn't told either of them about her plan, they both can tell that something is up. She told me that she feels that Kathy, in some strange way, is more upset about her leaving than Martin is. I would have expected Kathy to feel a sense of victory over her rival, but I remember that it was really Anna whom Kathy was sexually attracted to in the first place. It wasn't until Anna made it plain to Kathy that she wasn't interested in a homosexual relationship with her, that Kathy decided to compete with Anna for Martin. Now Anna is quite sanguine about Kathy's apparent victory. Except for a twinge of regret that Martin is able to say goodbye without really fighting for her, Anna is ready to cede the field to Kathy and wish them both the best, although she doesn't know if Martin and Kathy will stay together after she's gone.

Friday, April 3, 1998

10 am. Twelfth Session with Sharon Lough. Sharon came in for her session reeking of marijuana. She admitted that she had gotten stoned before coming in and said that she had been smoking before going to work several times a week. She's bound to get caught and fired--it would be hard not to notice that she had been smoking pot. Sharon says that it is her ambition to be a nondescript nobody at work, and that she's failed even that. Sharon has been having some side effects from Prozac--she reports nervousness and nausea--but she hasn't tried it for more than a few days. Of course I'd be willing to switch medications if Sharon was suffering from side effects, but I didn't get the impression that Sharon has given Prozac a chance at all. She seemed to be only interested in angling for illegal drugs. I thought it was in jest at first, but it seems to be a recurrent theme in our sessions together. Sharon also told me that she and Rob are now sleeping together. She's clearly doing it as a way of repaying her financial obligations to him. With her general repugnance to sex, I don't see that prostituting herself is going to result in the healthiest of outcomes. But Sharon reports that she didn't find it as repugnant as she expected--although she expressed a desire that Rob suffer from premature ejaculation, so I presume that she is less than indifferent. Sharon seemed to be fishing for a negative reaction from me. She called herself "a stoner and a slut," and then asked if I thought less of her as a result. Perhaps she's hoping that I will play a parental authority role in her life. I did come down pretty hard on her illegal drug use, so I can evaluate her response to that in order to gauge the rest. Sharon is not practicing safe sex with Rob. She's unconcerned about pregnancy because he had a vasectomy. But condoms didn't seem to work well for them. Sharon said that she'd try the Prozac again.

4 pm. Twenty-First Session with Thomas Darden. I hadn't seen Tom since October of last year, so when he called me to schedule an appointment, I was somewhat surprised. The last I heard was when he was off to the Bahamas filled with a false bravado. He told me now that he mostly spent the time barricaded in his hotel room feigning illness. Socially, Tom is clearly no better now than he was when I last saw him. He sees himself as a pathetic loner with "self-esteem" problems, as he puts it. He still has his sardonic wit which makes him entertaining, but he uses it to mask a great deal of pain. He also seems like he's capable of violence, although I've seen no overt expression. But there's something eating Tom that seems almost horrific. He told me of an angry verbal assault he made on a woman he was trying to get into bed. He told her that he had a better claim to her sexual attentions because he had invested more time in her than had another more successful lover. Not surprisingly, this wasn't a very effective tack. I wouldn't be surprised if his outburst completely frightened this woman away from the idea of having any relationship with Tom, even if only over the Internet. I've always approached Tom's treatment on a functional level by trying to overcome his own sense of inadequacy and social shyness. Perhaps I should treat Tom as more seriously disturbed and attempt to uncover the underlying causation for his condition. But I'm glad to see Tom back in therapy. I have a chance with him to really make a fundamental difference in his life. I think he does have a lot to offer some woman if she can penetrate through the layers of shyness, violence, and jealousy which he's built up as protection. Properly motivated, I feel Tom would give up his abuse of alcohol and the frustration which now expresses itself as barely contained violence.

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