Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 4/11/97

Saturday, April 5, 1997

Sunday, April 6, 1997

Monday, April 7, 1997

9:55 am. Telephone Call from George Landau. Today was the day when George was going to exercise his newfound courage and face the training session without further preparation. Of course, it ended poorly, with George, on the way to the course, ordering the taxi to stop and then throwing up on a sidewalk. George acknowledges the need for therapy and desires to continue, although he asked for a hiatus until April 21. We have a lot of work to do before his next training session, if he is going to be able to make it then.

2:13 pm. Telephone Conversation with Mr. Tom Bows. I got a call from Tom who told me that a gossip columnist in the Sunday Chronicle had written a bad column about Sylvia and him. He seemed to be taking it well, although he said that he is losing his reserves of strength, but he is concerned about how Sylvia might take it. She doesn't know about the article yet--Tom hid the section from her. Tom wanted me to try to prepare her. Tom also said that Sylvia's seduction tricks, as he put it, only serve to remind him of her recent promiscuity. But he said that he is still very much in love with her. I sense that she might be getting closer to breaking through the wall of ice that remains between them. I got my hands on the newspaper article about Sylvia. It is horrendous! Catty and snide, but unfortunately fairly accurate, Ms. Prentiss applies a victorian sensibility to Sylvia's attempts to get pregnant. I have no idea how to prepare Sylvia for the impact of this article. But she's coming in tomorrow and I better come up with something. Addendum: Sylvia left a message with the service while I was at lunch. She is going out of town on a vacation with Tom and the babies. She apologized for missing the session and told the operator to let me know that Tom is really being a sweetheart. Obviously, Tom thought it better to get Sylvia away from whatever storm the article will bring.

Tuesday, April 8, 1997

12 pm. Sixth Session with Eliza Raven. Eliza apologized for missing our last few sessions and took it rather personally when I chided her on it. Her family is in the process of turning itself inside out, apparently. Her father is remarrying, and her brother and Eliza herself are both in wedding preparations. Apparently, her father is reacting to his approaching nuptials with some introspection, which is causing a certain emotional discord in the family. Eliza is even patching together a relationship with her mother. They are both in therapy and are using it as a common bond. I think Eliza is able to open up to her mother and see her as more human because she is discussing her mother's frailities rather than aggressively seeking answers as to why her mother behaved in a certain way. But while Eliza's relationship with her mother improves, her relationship with her father is more strained and distant. Possibly, her father's strong emotional ties to Eliza's mother aren't severed and his upcoming marriage to Calypso is causing him to contemplate their complete break. I didn't tell Eliza that. I merely suggested that she try to talk to her father and raise these issues. I prescribed Zoloft, 100 mg. once each morning. I'm proposing a 6-8 week trial to evaluate the medication's effect.

4:15 pm. Fifth Session with Hal Mainor. Hal went to the office today and was confronted with dozens of copies of the Sylvia Bows article. Apparently, it has made a big stir within the company, with Xerox copies proliferating everywhere. It's also the subject of general conversation. As far as I know, Sylvia hasn't even seen the article yet. Although the article didn't list him by name, Hal is certain that he has been named in Richard's lawsuit. That lawsuit, which is a public record, is just waiting for his wife to go look it up, or so Hal fears. His name is on a piece of paper as an adulterer and that paper sits in the same building that his wife often works. So Hal is beside himself. He also thinks his wife is having an affair because he's seen certain signs--she's in a good mood, has spent money on underwear, and changes her clothes when she gets home--that he's interpreted as her infidelity. Obviously, it's a projection phenomenon. Hal said something odd. He said that Nils Landor, Sylvia's replacement, had a fistfight with Richard. Hal assumed that Nils was one of Sylvia's lovers whom Richard had named, but I'm pretty sure that Nils and Sylvia never slept together. Actually, Sylvia told me that Nils was the gay lover of Lloyd Majors. So what's he doing in a fistfight with Richard Winters? He certainly had no interest in defending Sylvia's honor. As I recall, Nils led the witch hunt against Sylvia and would like nothing more than for Sylvia to resign her post at SII so that he could claim it as his permanent home.

Wednesday, April 9, 1997

Received a couple of memos relating to Thomas Darden. Apparently, there was some concern from Tom's boss that Tom was in need of psychiatric counsel prior to Tom's first session with me. While praising Tom's skills, there was concern over his ability to deal with people. He took the problems that he was supposed to be giving assistance on personally and refused to participate in brainstorming sessions within his department. Given Tom's problems with avoidant personality disorder, none of this is surprising of course.

I received a fax from the Anonymous Faxer. This one was a get well card. He must have heard that I had the flu and so was suggesting that I drink some chicken soup. I was touched by the solicitousness shown by this man I've never met. I looked back over my e-mail with the Anonymous Faxer and realized, to my dismay, that I had neglected to send him a response to his last missive--a flaw made worse by the degree of openness he showed there. Anyway, I apologized and sent him an e-mail response.

E-mail from Peter Hossfeld. I received e-mail from Peter. He's only able to send me furtive messages in this manner, and he's terrified that Serena will discover Peter's "weakness" in any case. Peter says that he feels like a spider being sucked down a slimy bathtub drain--he sounds quite desperate. But while simultaneously maintaining that he is being buried alive, he also praises Serena for all that she's done for him. He specifically mentions that Serena is responsible for convincing him that he has been responsible for many horrible crimes over all his past lives. And he cryptically says that the one thing that Serena wants from Peter, he can never give her. Peter speaks with praise about the Heaven's Gate group, admiring them for their willingness to leave their bodies behind and take "the journey." Peter also writes that Serena says that he speaks in tongues in his sleep. He says that she has heard him speak in High German, Akkadian, and Aramaic which Peter interprets as his going backward through many past lives. Finally, he reports as "progress" that he can have epileptic seizures without the monitor now, by using mediation and "brainwave control." The situation is intolerable. I really have to get Peter back in here for regular therapy. I am deeply concerned that Peter is becoming so wrapped up in magical thinking that he is unable to assess basic health needs. And I can think of no reasonable way to loosen Serena's grip. Even in his e-mail, personal pronouns relating to Serena are capitalized, while those relating to Peter himself are always in lower case.

Thursday, April 10, 1997

10 am. First Session with Decker Jenkins. A new patient who called me up out of the blue without a referral came in today. Decker's physical complaints are headaches and some slight blurring of his vision. But he seems to be a very complex young man. He just turned 26, but seems young for his age. I'd describe him as handsome, with thick, dark hair worn long. His hair was greasy, although he didn't have an obvious body odor. His features are strong, with his bushy eyebrows connecting together in the middle. Overall, he frequently has a somewhat menacing look. He is a bit underweight, but not seriously. He dresses in old, faded, casual clothes. Decker works as a bartender, which I found surprising due to his strange social mannerisms. For example, during the session, Decker found it difficult to look at me directly, either while I was speaking or while he was. He also physically sat on his hands during the session, making no hand gestures at all. It seemed as if someone had trained him not to use his hands while speaking by forcing him to sit on his hands, although he didn't mention anything about that. What he did briefly describe was a fairly odious childhood, although he is not fully conscious of just how bad it was. His mother is named Karen and apparently she beat him for addressing her by the title of "Mother" or "Mommy". Decker wants me to call her Karen even in our session--he has been conditioned to cringe when he hears her addressed as his mother. Decker was the unwanted product of a union between Karen and a one-night stand. Decker has negative fantasies of his father as a liar and a cheat. He was also beaten for asking Karen about him. He also mentioned being left alone for several days at a time as a young child while Karen went off with her latest sexual partner. Decker was worried that I might try to institutionalize him. His picture of mental hospitals comes from Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." It's kind of like developing an image of dentistry from "Marathon Man." I tried to reassure him, but the issue is going to be hanging over our interactions for a few sessions. Decker told me that he believes that he has a problem in over-analyzing things. He finds his mind racing as he searches for answers to all the questions that occur to him. He believes that the answers are there in his mind somewhere, if only he could search them out. He said that he is obsessed with using the untapped potential of his brain. Decker described an almost mystic figure in the form of a friend named Simian. Simian was an old man when they first met 14 years ago, so he must be quite ancient now. Simian was the one who directed Decker to seek out my help. He seems to act an adviser to Decker. Decker described first meeting Simian in what sounds like almost a spiritual encounter. Decker was extremely tense through our session. I told him to try to relax and to avoid trying to answer every question he wonders about. It's okay to not know all the answers all the time. We left the scheduling of appointments open. He said that he'd contact me later to set up our next one.

12 pm. Fifth Session with Christina Herald. This was a strange session. Christina started almost buoyant and yet soon fell into a sullen reverie. She was surly and generally uncooperative. She snapped at me when I tried to probe beneath this bland, completely atypical mask that she had assumed. She fended off any questions about her intimate relationships, referring to them as relating to her sex life which she claims makes a certain kind of sense to her. She took this attitude even though it seems that she is being ineptly stalked by her ex-boyfriend Kevin. In fact, Malcolm, that dour stick man from last week, actually assaulted Kevin outside of Christina's apartment building. Her tone when talking about Malcolm is especially guarded, as though she is almost afraid of the reaction that any details will elicit. Instead, Christina launched into a discussion of the duality of her nature--an impetus towards art (writing) versus one towards practicality (teaching). She sees her artistic side as related to her mother, who left her family when Christina was three years old to pursue a career as a theatrical wardrobe mistress. And she sees her practical side as owing to her father, whom she described with a certain degree of sympathy given his predicament of being left with a three year old daughter to raise alone. She's afraid that the practical can subsume the artistic--indeed, she had to make an effort to begin writing again, jealous of the time it took from learning how to teach. Christina's hands looked like they had been scratched up, probably from kitten claws. She is now wearing a new ring on her thumb that has a black stone. I'm no expert, but it doesn't look like onyx--rather it has that lava glass look that I equate with obsidian. But I've never heard of obsidian being used for rings before because it chips so easily. Christina has been relatively free of her panic attacks recently, although she's afraid that this might be the calm before the storm, which she's anticipating around the time of her finals. I felt that Christina had some real issues that were troubling her during this session that she felt the need to hide from me, for reasons that I can't fathom. But her mood of happy cheerfulness at the beginning of the session seems, in retrospect, to be almost certainly consciously assumed as an attempt to shield her true conflicts. And it does look like Christina could use a vacation.

4 pm. Thirty-Seventh Session with Anna Green. Anna is determined to go and get whipped. She thinks it is necessary for her to experience the pleasures of being a bottom if she is going to make an effective top for Martin. I practically begged her to not do this, but she laughed off my concerns. She has a safe word! How can she get hurt? In fact, she said that without my counseling over these past months, she would never have had the ability to try this. Great! Is this the beginning of years of therapy for Anna? I don't know which way to root, actually. Am I hoping that her "whip-master from the Far East" is going to really give her a great experience, turning her into a confirmed masochist? Or would it ultimately be better if she has a really horrendous experience which convinces her that the S&M world is not for her? Anna pretends this is about gaining power, but I believe it is another example of her subverting her own needs and desires for those of her partner.

Jerico Freeman spoke to the service and asked for an appointment on Monday. He said that he had been out of town on some emergency last week and that is why he missed the session. But if Diane is to be believed, he was really passed out in a drunken stupor. We'll have to explore whether Jerry is, in fact, a pathological liar.

Friday, April 11, 1997

I sent an e-mail to Peter, for all the good it will do. I begged him to come back to therapy. I also strongly suggested that Serena was hostile to his interests, and that she is creating his evil past in an attempt to make her valuable to him. I suggested that he tape record the ancient languages that Serena says he speaks while unconscious and submit them to expert analysis. I'm not sure, but I think Professor Anderson could handle that--at least he'd know someone who could. But there's no chance that Peter would do that. He's not interested in "western" verification of the matters he takes on faith.

4 pm. Fifth Session with Thomas Darden. Tom came in looking tired. My first guess was that he hadn't been sleeping, but he assured me that he was physically fine. However, he is feeling a strange duality between the anonymity of being unappreciated versus the exposure of being singled out for praise. He said that he wants to bask in the glory and yet hide in the shadows. I think that Tom is challenging himself to peek out from his shell, and I've tried to encourage him. But he feels that somehow he is a negative causal agent for events. He told me a story where a friend pressured him to go to a bar after work. One of his co-workers attempted to initiate a sexual encounter with a married woman in front of her husband. A fistfight ensued, with the husband losing control to such an extent that he assaulted a police officer who was trying to break up the fight. The husband was arrested, and Tom believes that, although he was merely a spectator, it was somehow his fault. He told another story about passing out at a party and awaking to find that he had been decorated with magic markers while he was unconscious. He felt that he had been trying to fit in, and here he was again, being made the outcast. It brought him back to being the new kid in Scranton when he was a young adolescent. I told Tom that he was taking too much personal responsibility for the incidents that occur around him, and that since much of his socializing involves heavy drinking, he should expect unconventional conduct from those impaired by alcohol.

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