Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 5/16/97

Saturday, May 10, 1997

Sunday, May 11, 1997

Monday, May 12, 1997

I sent an e-mail response to Peter Hossfeld. I'm trying to counter his magical thinking and get him to challenge his basic mystical assumptions--that every positive aspect of his life derives from supernatural origins. When Peter first came to me, he complained of feeling spiritually unfulfilled. He suffered from a generalized malaise and had tried to find fulfillment in a number of new age philosophies and treatments. In my earliest notes on Peter, I wrote: "My job, I suspect, will have less to do with diagnosis and treatment of his underlying complaint and more to do with exploring his feelings of personal inadequacy and helping him cope with his obsessive need for outside systems designed to remake himself." Now, Peter achieved his goal, in part. Rather than being an ordinary programmer without spiritual depth, he is the reincarnated spirit of a Babylonian priest of Marduk with a tragic love story, a quest--the curse which must be lifted by the passion of a beautiful maiden. Perhaps I'm overstating it a bit, but Peter is trying to live a Harlequin romance. And what am I offering in its place? Treatment for epilepsy and a return to being like everybody else.

I received a fax from Martin Silverman respecting a new patient, Alex Rozzi. Martin Silverman is a social worker for the City of San Francisco. Apparently, Alex is a 16 year old male who has been involved in prostitution and most recently assualt. Several times, he has run away from home which consists of Larraine, his young, unmarried mother. Silverman describes Alex as "extremely intelligent with a propensity for fits of anger and uncontrollable rage." Alex has had several encounters with the juvenile justice system. His mother works at SII and so I have been selected for a court ordered psychiatric evaluation and possible treatment. I scheduled an appointment for Alex on Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 13, 1997

12 pm. Eleventh Session with Eliza Raven. "Luke the Puke," as Eliza picturesquely named him in her journal last week, sent Eliza the most god-awful Mother's Day "present"--a vicious reminder of the miscarriage she suffered two years ago when Gary, Luke's drunken father, lost control of the car and killed himself and injured Eliza, causing her to lose the baby. Luke sent Eliza a doll with a severed head which fell off when she picked it up. Eliza has never come to emotional terms with the loss that she suffered. She has repressed her feelings about the loss of her baby, but those feelings started welling up on Mother's Day even before she received Luke's malicious gift. Eliza feels that there was no closure to the loss of her daughter--the doctor told her that she was pregnant and had suffered a miscarriage and that was that. While Gary had a funeral and his family was given the opportunity to grieve, Eliza was never given a chance herself to come to terms with her loss. When someone suffers a miscarriage, others tend to deal with it as an illness that the person is going through. There is little thought given to the life of the child that was lost. But to Eliza, even though she didn't know of its existence until after her miscarriage, the little girl she lost was more than a potential child. She was real. Eliza grieves now for the two year old child that she would be now. I suggested that she acknowledge her loss in some spiritual fashion, which seemed to strike a chord in Eliza. Peter figures strongly in Eliza's hopes for the future--it was even more apparent in the journal that she handed to me at the end of this session. Peter told Eliza that I was his therapist, and Eliza was a bit hurt that I hadn't told her that. But I assured her that the confidentiality between sessions was a two way street, and that her confidences were as safe with me as Peter's had been. Luke's physical abuse of Eliza was more severe than I had imagined. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that many of the injuries that Eliza claimed to have received in the car accident were actually caused by Luke, who blamed Eliza for his father's death. Eliza admitted that she had been thrown down a staircase by Luke, causing her to break her wrist, her ankle, and bruise her ribs. Personally, I think Luke should be jailed, and I definitely think Eliza should get a restraining order. He is a dangerous man and this might not end well.

4 pm. Thirty-Ninth Session with Sylvia Bows. Sylvia is finding the life of a corporate mom to be very difficult, even with the help that she gets from a 24 hour a day nanny, her mother and Tom. Sylvia went into great detail about the social wrongs inflicted on mothers who don't have her resources. And she feels moderately guilty for not trying to do something about their plight. I urged her not to feel that she had to change the world, and that spending time with her family was not selfish. She finds that she has a better relationship with Tom now that she's out of the house. She feels that work gives her more perspective on her reality than she could get when she just stayed at home, and it gives her something to talk about that is new to Tom--not merely chewing over the events of the day that they had both experienced as they happened. Sylvia's theory is that people who stay at home have time to analyze everything in great detail, which leads to their unhappiness. I gather Tom has been working a lot at home. Sylvia has been drawn into Lloyd's Apple Acquisition plans, which she describes as ludicrous. And Tom is working with some ex-Apple employees in their new start-ups. So they are interested in what each of them has done during their workday. But when I asked if she and Tom had resumed sexual relations, she admitted that they hadn't. When I asked if she had told Tom that she loved him yet, she basically admitted that she had not. Sylvia is afraid to tell Tom how she really feels, because she feels differently than she did before. I think Sylvia is feeling real love for Tom, it is just that she is unwilling to lose herself to him now. She is afraid that he will interpret that as something other than love, and that she will lose him. So she maintains the ambiguity, not realizing that strategy holds more potential to destroy her relationship with Tom than would telling him the truth about how she really feels. Bruce Redot, the sculptor who had a brief liaison with Sylvia so many months ago, called and spoke to Tom. He wasn't listed in Richard's lawsuit, so Tom wasn't clued in to his past association with Sylvia. Apparently, Tom and Bruce hit it off and arranged to have dinner. Sylvia has lost much of her social life--apparently her friends and Tom's have avoided seeing them in public because of their newfound infamy. So Tom and Sylvia are going to have dinner with Bruce next Saturday, which should be quite uncomfortable for Sylvia.

Wednesday, May 14, 1997

Christina begged off from attending her session tomorrow because she is in the midst of finals. I wished her well and we agreed that she'd come in the following week.

2 pm. First Session with Alex Rozzi. I really didn't know what to expect. I have little experience with kids and I've never treated a juvenile male prostitute before. So I was a bit apprehensive. Ironically, Alex's attempt to find his limits with me put me immediately at ease as I told him that he couldn't smoke in my office and reprimanded him for putting out his cigarette on my desk. The actions were so patently designed to challenge my authority and test his limits, that I felt completely comfortable in setting down rules. But I'll try not to fall into the disciplinarian mold with Alex. I think he needs someone who can provide much more positive support than that. Although he looks much older than 15, when he talks he betrays his age, although he is clearly intelligent. Tall, with long black hair, Alex has very white--almost translucent--skin. He moves with attitude but also with a certain grace, like he's modeling his black clothing, and the leather and silver jewelry that he sports. The left side of his nose is pierced with a small silver hoop. Alex told me of some of his criminal activity. In one ruse, he uses some form of drug which renders his victims unconscious and allows him to rob them of their money and jewelry. His current trouble with the authorities stems from an assault charge which left a man hospitalized with damage to the facial nerves. Alex feels no remorse for the incident, believing that he was justified. Alex tells the story without making himself sound like the innocent, which I found interesting. I would imagine that Alex would have accused the man of having started the fight, but Alex said that he punched the man first because the man wanted him to have sex for free. After the man was punched, he started to fight in earnest. I don't have much knowledge of these things, but I have difficulty imagining that the injured trick of an minor prostitute is going to press charges. I assume that the trick wouldn't want to face the criminal penalties associated with having sex with minors. That sense probably pervades Alex's shadowy world--that he is immune from the normal legal strictures because his victims have too much to lose to report his crimes to the police. Alex is amazingly judgmental and critical of his mother. He believes that she is morally his inferior--at least when he has promiscuous sex, he charges for it. Alex seemingly has no male role model in his life, except for Benny--a friend who isn't a prostitute himself but checks up on Alex and makes sure that he hasn't been murdered by one of his clients.

4 pm. Fourth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine is concerned about a new role that she has been given at work. Her boss has made her a partner in the mammoth project of working out the financing of the Apple takeover. Katherine feels uncomfortable mostly because the change in her work circumstances comes from outside and was not of her doing. But she's also noticed that she functions better under stress and is less likely to get caught up in the little annoyances. Katherine is anxious to move forward with therapy. She has thrown herself into it with what I assume is her customary enthusiasm. I counseled her not to allow herself to become too eager--I don't want her to get overblown expectations. She's identified her need for control as being the primary focus of her difficulties, and I'm not sure I disagree. But I told her that we didn't have to attack that straight away, as if it was a tumor we could cut out. Rather, the process of getting her to have some insight into herself was also valuable and relevant to getting hold of the deeper issues. She's clearly taking the therapy seriously, but not with the grim determination which I might have expected after the first few meetings. Katherine is able to notice when she slips into her corporate persona now. She says that she can almost feel the switch. When she spotted the fact that she had switched into her professional mode, she had almost a childlike glow of self-satisfied pride in her accomplishment, and I praised her new self-awareness. Whatever else Katherine is, she isn't depressed. When she isn't playing the corporate role, she seems playful and enthusiastic. It's interesting that those aspects of her personality--often associated with creativity--are the ones that she believes that she must suppress in order to function well in a corporate environment.

Thursday, May 15, 1997

11 am. Telephone Conversation with Decker Jenkins. Decker called me from jail. Apparently, Karen has been murdered and Decker thinks he might have committed the crime. But Decker isn't certain. He has a memory lapse respecting the critical time period. Decker might blame the drugs for the memory lapse and for his actions, but we couldn't really get into it because he was calling me from a prison phone which he only had access to for ten minutes or so. I told Decker not to make statements to the police without his lawyer there. After Decker got off the phone, I called the Hall of Justice and found out that I had to speak to the health officer--a guy named Vincent Andrews. I spoke with him, and he was surprisingly helpful and reasonable. I'm afraid that my preconceptions are based in part on media mythology. Anyway, he's going to make sure that Decker gets his medication and is going to put Decker on a suicide watch. He also gave me the number of the San Francisco public defender's office, which I called. Unfortunately, I could only get a machine.

4 pm. Forty-Second Session with Anna Green. Anna is having a hard time reconciling her sexual desires--playing the submissive to a dominating man--with her sense of the equality of women generally. We talked about the difference between sexual activity and the rest of a relationship--women who are submissive in the bedroom are not necessarily submissive in the conduct of daily life. We also talked about the difference between the acts of consenting adults and those between real torturers and their victims. The basic rule I gave to Anna was that if a person is free to walk away, then it's about pleasure and not about abuse. Anna's difficulties reconciling her sexual interests with her feminist sensibilities are not unique. I've talked to many women who had elaborate rape fantasies and felt extraordinarily guilty about them. They all expressed the thought that by fantasizing about being raped, it was as if they gave permission to all the men who really attacked and raped women. Anna is experiencing something similar. If she wants to continue with her submissive adventures in the bedroom, she will have to come to terms with her guilt or it will ruin her experiences. Anna's one-time best friend Caren is getting married and Anna learned of her engagement only when Caren sent Anna an invitation. Anna and Caren had always promised that they would be each other's maid or matron of honor, but because they've drifted apart, that promise hasn't been realized. But more than feeling slighted by not being asked to be in Carin's wedding party, I believe that Anna is comparing her life to Caren's and coming up the loser in her estimation. Caren is going down a predictable path with her boyfriend and soon-to-be husband. Anna, on the other hand, is venturing to explore the depths of her own sexuality and experimenting with alternative sexual pleasures. But Anna essentially sees her current exploration as a distraction from what she had always expected--that she would settle down with one man and get married.

Friday, May 16, 1997

I received an e-mail from Peter Hossfeld. Peter describes meeting Eliza and then walking back to her house. After leaving Eliza with a passionate kiss, he ran into Luke, who was obviously spying on them. Luke said that Eliza and he were going through a rough spot in their relationship, and that Peter was to stay away from Eliza or Luke would do Peter bodily injury. As if Luke wasn't enough of a threat to Eliza, Peter also said that Serena, motivated by jealousy, triumphantly removed one of Eliza's hairs from Peter's coat and disappeared into her inner sanctum, where she was obviously casting magical spells intended to do Eliza harm. While Peter is concerned about the magic that Serena wields, he didn't seem concerned enough to either confront Serena about it or try to stop her. Frankly, I was a bit surprised. Peter seemed weak. But then, he said he's been eating nothing but brown rice and wheat grass juice in an attempt to purge his system of "toxics."

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