Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 04/10/98

Saturday, April 4, 1998

Sunday, April 5, 1998

Monday, April 6, 1998

4 pm. Eleventh Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia apparently has a secret admirer at work. She received a set of cryptic notes which utilized some form of musical code which Olivia was able to decipher. We spent most of the session running through the methadology Olivia used to crack the code, and it seemed that she was probably right, although I must say that I am not particularly literate in musical notation. But Olivia was so proud of herself for breaking the code, and so intrigued by the romantic danger of having a rendezvous with someone whose identity she doesn't know in advance, that she's going. She is having Caren and Greg back her up at a different table, which sounds like a good idea to me. At the beginning of the session, Olivia gave me some early memories which she had been able to recall and write down. I didn't have a chance to review them during the session, but she told me that she worked hard to come up with these memories and that, although the faces are familiar to her, she can't remember who they are. After Olivia left, I reviewed the written list of memories which she had left for me. A lot of the notes are about feeling self conscious and awkward and as if she doesn't belong. She described common childhood fears of wanting to be accepted by her peers. She talked about early sexual experiences which seemed a bit more precocious than the norm--a neighbor boy of about five apparently tried to achieve penetration before they were discovered by his mother. But the sexual exploration was always in the context of a game and doesn't sound particularly traumatic--she remembers the incident because of getting caught rather than the boy's activity. She remembered a car accident when she was very young. Her memory is that she was the only one who wasn't hurt. She got hit in the eye with a bat, and although it hurt, she thought it was cool to have a black eye. This is also clearly about being accepted by her peers.

Tuesday, April 7, 1998

3:15 pm. Fourth Session with Lloyd Major. Lloyd came in unexpectedly after suffering a panic attack. Apparently, he's been suffering from allergies this season more than is usual--El Niño is supposed to be terrible for those with his affliction. For all his arrogance, I felt sorry for him. His inability to breathe freely through his nose makes him feel almost claustrophobic. He suffered a panic attack at his office, and decided to come and talk to me to blow off some steam, as he put it. He described his symptoms: chest pain; inability to take a breath; pounding heartbeat; tachycardia, partial vision loss; chills and a feeling of being flushed, simultaneously. His pulse was a normal 84 in my office. He described quite lucidly the feeling of time dilation that occurs during his panic attack and he told me that it helps if he can become completely preoccupied with some task. Entertainment doesn't occupy his mind sufficiently, but work does. It clearly helps him to talk about his problems, even though he sees everything in grandiose terms--not how it affects him, but how it affects mankind. For example, he disparaged 12 hour nasal sprays because they left him without a feeling of control. So with his unique resources, he contacted the head of the pharmaceutical company which manufacturers the spray, and convinced them to offer a four hour variant of their product. This is his gift to mankind, or at least to that subset which suffers from identical concerns to Lloyd Major. In listening to the drugs that he was taking, I would guess that his panic attack was exacerbated by an overdose of decongestant. He is taking Clariton D and the over the counter spray and Nasacort steroid, and it's possible he took something else too. The drug reaction could easily account for the anxiety and associated symptoms. Lloyd waxed poetic about how wonderful it would be for allergy sufferers everywhere if he could denude downtown San Francisco from any form of plant life. He called it an "allergy safe zone" and mused about the possibility of having such a measure passed by the voters. Lloyd also told me that SII was about to release something big and urged me to buy some stock. I thanked him, but of course it would be unethical for me to do so. Roberto, his multimedia biographer, was nowhere to be seen today. I don't know if he was just one of Lloyd's sexual flings that has now passed or perhaps he has finished his work.

4 pm. Second Session with Lisa Benjamin. Lisa reports some success at controlling her anger this past week. She tried counting to ten and it seemed to help her to overcome her initial impulse towards a violent confrontation. It's interesting to me that her primary flash points seem to involve strange men on the street who make sexually explicit remarks. Although most women find such conduct offensive, Lisa seems especially prone to anger. One would suspect the reverse--that Lisa's experience as a stripper would leave her emotionally hardened to being objectified in that manner. Lisa explains the paradox by saying that she gets enough of it at work, and here, these men haven't paid for the privilege. That sounds like too easy an explanation. I'd like to further explore the reason for why she's invests so much emotional energy into cads on the street. I keep expecting some negative reaction to the customers who also objectify her. But she sees that as her job--providing a masturbatory object for the men who pay quarters to keep their window shades raised. Lisa did report that she thinks that the Lusty Lady experience has made her stereotype and distrust men generally, although intellectually she realizes that her perceptions are being warped by what she does. Lisa wants to make a documentary about strippers and, although she has little experience with film making, she's looking forward to diving into this project. She is volunteering to do office work in exchange for editing room time at some outfit that might also loan her the camera. It sounds like a cathartic project, if nothing else.

Wednesday, April 8, 1998

4 pm. Forty-First Session with Katherine Lippard. We spent most of the session talking about a series of lucid dreams which Katherine experienced. They sound like they made an enormous impression on her, mostly positive. She had two main series of dreams over several subsequent nights. In the first, she followed a raven as a guide to a large hedge-like maze and then required a ground-based guide to complete her journey. She chose me as her guide and cast me in the figure of a mole. That's pretty grounded! Those dreams led her through a labyrinth back to her childhood home and allowed her to view a few important artifacts left there by her family after they moved. She reacted very emotionally to seeing her father's flight bag there. Katherine wept even as she related the dream to me. In the second series of dreams, Katherine was able to conduct dream conversations with her father both as a child and as an adult. In those dream conversations, Katherine put all the blame on her mother and took all the blame off her father. Her father revealed that things weren't going well between her mother and him, and they were headed towards a divorce regardless of his desire to pursue his destiny. Katherine has always been desperate to make a hero of her father, and she did so in her dreams. He also told her how much he loved her and how proud he was of her. He told her to follow her talents and to not worry about how she was viewed by the rest of the world. Katherine always desperately desired that kind of love and acceptance from her dad, and now she's given herself that. It sounds like she really might be able to achieve some form of closure by her belief that she's actually had a paranormal experience instead of a dream. But in reality, when Katherine talks to her mother and explores the new information about the divorce, I'm afraid that the reality she gives to the dream construct might collapse. From everything that she told me up to now, her mother was very much in love with her father and never got over the shock of his abandonment. Regardless of the romantic content of her father pursuing his destiny, ultimately it comes down to the hard fact that he abandoned his children. Even if he faced a divorce from his wife, he didn't have to sever his relationship with his children. That was his choice. Katherine has chosen to keep intact this romantic figure that she's carefully fashioned over the last twenty years. Her subconscious is not going to let go of that very easily and her dreams reflect that. Part of the reality that Katherine ascribes to these series of dreams was given when her brother happened to call after her emotional reaction to discovering her father's flight bag at the deserted house. Of course, his phone call interrupted her sleep, which made that dream memorable. If he hadn't called, she probably would have never remembered the dream. She said that she woke crying and then received the call from Philip. I've noticed that there is a lack of causality in dreaming which enables one to reverse the order of actual events just upon waking. Personally, I've been able to weave an unexpected doorbell into a dream so that I believed that the dream naturally led to a situation where someone would ring a doorbell. And it all happened instantaneously upon awakening to the unexpected chime. I'll never know whether she actually woke up or whether Phil woke her up, but I suspect that it might be an example of reversed causality resulting from a dream. But it gave her a chance to connect with Phil and to talk to him seriously about their feelings about their dad. Previously, Katherine had considered hiring detectives to find her father. She has never taken this course. I don't believe that she was deterred by the cost, which might have been substantial but relatively immaterial to Katherine. Rather, I believe Katherine was afraid that the results of the investigation would cause her to lose the ideal father that she's constructed. I don't really think that she can achieve closure through dream conversations with her idealized father, because she's not facing reality--she's just constructing a fairy-tale to which she can cling.

5 pm. Fortieth Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex has made a turn for the worse. He admitted that he has been arrested for shoplifting, which may be a violation of his parole. He also told me that he has been smoking marijuana, apparently with some frequency. Alex has made friends with a lesbian couple, Regina and Camille, and has engaged in some S&M sex play with them--allowing himself to be flogged. This has caused a reaction of jealousy from Luke. Alex told me that it was on their urging that he stole the radio which resulted in his arrest. He also said that they paint together, smoking marijuana first to enhance performance. Alex believes that the store decided not to press charges because of the flirtatious charm that he used to influence the old woman who owns the store. But that hasn't saved Alex from possible action from the juvenile court system. Alex doesn't believe that they'll make him a ward of the court or introduce him into the foster home system, but I said that it was hard to say what they might do. Alex has decided to keep his shoplifting arrest secret from Luke, because he's afraid of his anger. Alex got a check from Jake, apparently in an effort to make things right there. But Alex is avoiding further conversation with Jake because of the situation between Jake and Katherine. Alex told me that Katherine met the "lipstick lesbitarians" and apparently didn't think much of them, which Alex ascribed to Regina's exorbitant piercings. But Katherine apparently made an impression on them--just what Katherine needs now. Alex still has dark circles under the eyes and he appeared somewhat disheveled. The wardrobe is black, the hair is spiky, and the nose ring has returned. I'm afraid that Alex's new friends are having quite a negative influence, and I'm quite concerned.

Thursday, April 9, 1998

Friday, April 10, 1998

3 pm. Tenth Session with Rachel Tanner. Rachel is on Spring Break and she is going to have dinner tonight with her brother Michael and Michael's roomate Evan whom Rachel has a crush on. Rachel clearly loves her younger brother, but she thinks of him as a clever fabricator who specializes in bullshitting others. In person, however, Rachel believes that she can read his facial expressions to discern the truth. Rachel has started going to the creative writing group that meets in Mattie's house. She feels comfortable there and believes that she can write without compulsively rewriting and editing because they generally like what she produces and she doesn't feel like she's being graded or judged. We talked a bit about her memories of her mother and her recollections of her mother's OCD symptoms. She remembers that her mother spent a lot of time inside, rocking in a chair. She also remembers that she would walk endlessly around the house, humming to herself. Rachel now thinks she was counting her steps. Rachel thought her mother's behavior was completely normal until kids at school started to tease Michael, who reacted hotly. Rachel's father apparently went and physically intimidated the parents of one of the teasing kids. Rachel hates her father. Except for her mother's funeral, Rachel hasn't seen him in eight years. Rachel was able to reach back and pull out some memories of him. She remembers things that she now interprets to mean that her father would sexually brutalize her mother and place inordinate sexual demands upon her. She remembers walking in on her parents having sex when she was about eleven. She remembers seeing them both dressed, with her mother on her hands and knees on the floor and with her father engaged in intercourse from the rear. She remembers that her father had her mother's hair wrapped in his hand and he was pulling hard on it, twisting her mother's neck around. Her mother had a wild expression on her face. Although Rachel indicated that her father's sexual activity with her mother was consensual, Rachel seems to believe that he dominated and controlled her in a way that was loathsome. I pressed, and Rachel told me that her father molested her once by putting her hand on his penis while he ejaculated. She insisted that it was only that one time. She wanted to know whether she could "blame" her OCD on the molestation by her father. While I explained that it wasn't that simple, I did point out that she had a lot of anger as a result of that relationship and that unresolved anger towards a parent could interfere with other relationships and with her own self esteem.

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