Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 5/23/97

Saturday, May 17, 1997

Sunday, May 18, 1997

Monday, May 19, 1997

12 pm. First Session with Lloyd Major. I guess I've finally reached the big time. This morning, I got a call from someone who said that I should make time for Mr. Lloyd Major at noon. Not "do you have time at noon"--just that I should make time. Well, I didn't have anyone scheduled, so it wasn't a problem. At noon, Lloyd Major swirled in with Roberto--his Boswell for a CD-Rom project apparently. Roberto was clearly just a sycophant. Lloyd had no idea that I knew something about his bisexuality--but the issue wasn't touched on. I won't speculate on Roberto's sexual preferences--it's just too catty. Lloyd has a big, blustery style. He continually interrupts. I was expecting that his problems would be something about the labors of a CEO--the stress, the people who depend on you, the life or death decisions that have to be made, the billions of dollars riding on the outcome of your talents. I thought he might talk about his proposed acquisition of Apple Computers, perhaps questioning his motives as not purely financial. Something weighty at any rate. Nothing of the kind. Lloyd's big problem is that he has a stuffy nose. It isn't stuffy now, actually. But Lloyd hates it when it is stuffy. He suffers from allergies and when he can't breathe through his nose, he gets panicky symptoms, almost like claustrophobia. I'm making light of something which is obviously troubling to him, but I really had different expectations. He wants control when he is going through a stuffy period, so he prefers shorter duration nose drops so that he can administer them more frequently. He apparently doses himself with many times the regular amount so he might be exacerbating his symptoms through overuse--a common effect of nose drops is that using more than is recommended actually intensifies the symptoms. He said he knew about that effect, but it didn't really deter him much--he needs the control. He told me to think about his problem and get back to him. Perhaps we can try flooding--I'll hold his nose while telling him that there aren't any nose drops! Just kidding. In seriousness, because his problem is most severe at night and his major complaint is that he can't fall asleep, perhaps sleeping pills which would be used only when he had a sinus problem might afford him some relief. The strangest part of our meeting came near the end. He started to talk about Helen Gregory and I got the distinct impression that he was trying to pump me for information about her. He said that he knew her and missed her--that he used to drink and smoke cigars with her. He said that he missed their chats. I can't imagine that the CEO and the janitor had much in common--I don't see Lloyd as having a populist touch. I wonder why he would be interested in her and I wonder whether the true motivation behind his visit to me had something to do with Helen.

2 pm. Eleventh Session with George Landau. Although George tried to stall a bit, we started doing guided imagery as part of George's flooding therapy. I got George through a cab ride, up an elevator, down a corridor, and almost into his training program's room before he put a stop to it. He seemed distinctly uncomfortable during the flooding, which means that George has a good imagination and we have a greater chance of success with the guided imagery approach. We just have to take it very slowly. George hates the feeling of being out of control, which may prove a key to giving him more assurance in dealing with machines.

Tuesday, May 20, 1997

12 pm. Twelfth Session with Eliza Raven. Eliza is suffering from some random pains all over her body, seemingly with no obvious causation. When she came into the office, she was almost crippled with pain--she was very pale and almost passed out. When I couple her symptoms together with what I know from Peter about Serena's black magic, I think it possible that Eliza is suffering from the results of Serena's voodoo. Although Eliza denies that she believes it, patients such as Eliza who believe in magic and supernatural phenomenon in general are prime candidates for self delusion. They can exhibit real suffering from the effects of, for example, a voodoo curse. Eliza believes that Serena is cursing her, so she is feeling the effects. Just because it is in Eliza's mind doesn't mean that it isn't real for her and has to be treated. Eliza is already taking percocets for the pain related to her car accident. I think she's using the same medication to treat some of her newly experienced symptoms as well. Percocet is a narcotic and it makes her even that much more susceptible to Serena's suggestion. I'm afraid that I'll have to find some way which Eliza believes to be effective to protect her from Serena's black magic. Also, Eliza is being hunted by Luke. She refuses to get a protective order against him, and she resents my pushing on the subject. In fact, she resists so strongly that I suspect that she has some other motivation for avoiding the restraining order. She talked about the extent of the abuse that she suffered in Luke's hands, and although she says that none of the car accident injuries were actually Luke's doing, she does relate a series of horrendous accounts of abuse. Eliza told me a story about her adventures on the astral plane and how she has two guardians--Letitia and Mordred. In her latest adventure, Eliza was able to save her guardians from harm. In return, they promised to spend their lives trying to repay her. Perhaps that is a key to neutralizing the effects of Serena.

4 pm. Fortieth Session with Sylvia Bows. Sylvia found out that there is a chance that one or both of her boys could inherit epilepsy. Bruce Redot, the very rich sculptor that Sylvia slept with in her search for motherhood, has hereditary epilepsy. Sylvia is terrified that Grant or Roald might also suffer from the same malady. I tried to put it into some perspective for her, but Sylvia will not be mollified. Sylvia found out about Bruce's epilepsy when Tom and she were dinner guests and Bruce suffered an epileptic seizure that sent him to the hospital. At Bruce's request, Tom and Sylvia stayed behind at his beautiful home and waited for him to come back. While Tom didn't know the real cause of Sylvia's distress, her emotional response to Bruce's seizure set the stage for a renewal of sexual intimacy between them. Tom and Sylvia finally consummated the resumption of their marriage. Unrelated to Sylvia, she told me a story that Bruce told them before his seizure. Apparently, Bruce knew Lloyd Major from his college days when he was known as Lenny Majedenski, a Hungarian/American student getting his biochemistry degree from Cal Tech. Interesting.

Wednesday, May 21, 1997

4 pm. Fifth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine has been given primary responsibility for structuring the Apple Computer bid. Unfortunately, she thinks that the bid is doomed and can't see a way to successfully structure the acquisition. So instead of viewing the assignment as a promotion and a sign of the confidence that is being placed in her, she fears that she is being set up as the fall guy. Frank Herald, the CFO and nominally her mentor, is increasingly absent and Katherine is concerned that when the deal craters, there is going to be an urge to blame someone. She feels that she's being groomed as the logical choice. There are a couple of things that she said that make me concerned that she might be right. Apparently, Frank has arranged to have Katherine present the financial outlook for the acquisition to the board of directors, and he plans to be absent. If he was proud of his protégée, it would be more natural for him to be there and allow her to present the material, beaming at her and bolstering her confidence. Instead, Frank seems like he is distancing himself from the project completely. I urged her to talk to Frank honestly about her concerns without making any accusations about his motives. She said that she would. Katherine thinks that the therapy sessions are giving her an ability to keep the present in focus. She expressed pride in having been able to take some insights she gained in previous therapy sessions and using them to help reduce her stress. She was concerned about not being in control, and then she remembered what we talked about with her rechanneling stress into productive channels. She said thinking about that worked--she calmed down. She was excited about seeing some tangible results from therapy. I cautioned her that she shouldn't be disappointed if she doesn't always see that kind of improvement, and she blew up! She leaned forward in her chair, slammed her fist down on the desk and yelled at me. She was upset that I seemed to be undercutting her accomplishments. I apologized to her. Perhaps I was stressing the need for caution too much, but she said that she understands that she shouldn't expect too much too fast, and now she wants me never to qualify enthusiasm with it again. I need her to keep realistic expectations, but I'll wait for some signs of disappointment to manifest themselves before I take up that particular tack again. It was clear that Katherine has been working very hard of late. I could see slight black circles under her eyes and she seemed haggard--a little run down. Maybe it will be a high pollen count day in June and Lloyd will be absent from the board meeting on Monday, June 2nd.

Thursday, May 22, 1997

12 pm. Tenth Session with Christina Herald. This was a very interesting session. Christina came face to face with her bad boy fascination and found that it was merely an act. Malcolm turns out to really be Michael, a computer science graduate who works at SII. Behind the dour, dark facade, he is just a normal guy who genuinely likes Christina. In fact, she seems to be the first person to penetrate his mask since the very real tragedy that involved the murder of his fiancée in New York. But, contrary to the story, he had nothing to do with that killing and wasn't even a suspect. He did move west and change his character to try to start again. And after an interlude with Camille, he found Christina. Although Malcolm née Michael still possesses some violent impulses, I found myself feeling sorry for him. I think he really does love Christina and he was worried that if he lowered his mask, she would lose interest in him. And, in fact, that's pretty much what happened. Christina was interested in Malcolm, the bad boy who titillated her darker side, rather than Michael, the ordinary man under the mask. Christina has now graduated and she describes a continuing sense that there is one last paper to write or one last class to take. Christina analogized the sensation to the phantom limb phenomenon--she still has that nagging sense that something about school needs appeasement. For myself, I remember that for months after taking the boards, I had anxiety dreams where I hadn't completed some requirement regarding the endocrine system or something. Anyway, Christina's family gathered, reunion-style, to celebrate both Christina and Jonny's graduations. Unfortunately, Christina's graduation party was not everything she could have desired. When her family got together, a family secret slipped out and became a catalyst for a lot of anger, yelling, and screaming. Christina's Dad had carried on an affair with his ex-wife's sister, resulting in the birth of Gavin. So Christina found out that her cousin, to whom she has always been close, is really her half-brother. In a manner somewhat reminiscent to particle physics--where particles are slammed together and what flies out is analyzed for clues as to their internal structure--the various participants reaction to the surprise family disclosure strongly illuminates the characters and dynamics of Christina's relations.

4 pm. Forty-Third Session with Anna Green. It was a very interesting session with Anna today. She went to an S&M party--it was just a barbecue in the park, like an old-fashioned social. Although she liked a number of the people she met, she felt that they defined themselves in relation to their sexual preference. I know what she means. A number of the homosexuals that I've treated have seen themselves first as homosexuals and secondly in terms of their professions or interest. My parents--Jews from Russia--also thought of themselves as Jews first in a way that I never do. Perhaps it is a common theme among persecuted minorities--to band together and define themselves with reference to their shared bond. Of course, Anna also went to a S&M social where the only thing that these people had in common was their interest in S&M. If she had gone to a picnic of model airplane enthusiasts, she might have come away with the same impression. But I thought her insights were important, nevertheless. Anna is still receiving a number of phone messages from Martin. Even though she doesn't answer the calls, he still leaves messages without knowing whether she even listens to them. But she does listen to them. Though he has no way of knowing that it's working, Martin is successfully creating a bond with Anna. He keeps her up to date with everything that is happening in his life, including his ostracism--because of Anna's incident with the police--from the Michigan S&M community. And for the first time in many sessions, we talked about Bill. Anna still runs into him frequently at work and she desires to create an impression that she is a lot happier and more satisfied with her life in general than she ever was when she was with him. It is still important to Anna that he be jealous, and sorry, I suppose, that he ever terminated their relationship. After so many months, Anna can't really relax because her past is right there, working on the same floor. You can't leave your past behind you when you find your lovers from amongst the people you work with. I remember my Dad expressed it somewhat crudely: "Don't shit where you eat." At the end of the session, Anna asked if I would tie down a woman that I was making love to if she asked me to. I had to end the session right there, even though it gave me something to think about.

Friday, May 23, 1997

12 pm. Second Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex walked into my office in a fairly foul mood--he found out that he would be required to do some community work as part of his rehab program. Alex thinks of this as another proof that his life is all about not having any choices but just following someone else's commands--his grandparents, his mom, teachers, social workers, and individuals that took advantage of him at different points in his life. While Alex didn't actually came out and said it, he made it plain that he was repeatedly raped by a neighborhood bully when he was about ten. The older Benny saved Alex from the sexual abuse and in the process became his friend. In fact, Benny is much more than just a friend to Alex. Alex describes him as his first love. Alex clearly admires Benny and looks to him for guidance and companionship. But while Benny might have saved Alex from one horrendous situation, he is also, I believe, responsible for getting Alex into prostitution and even drug running. Alex tried to shock me by describing an unpleasant scene--Benny and he engaging in violent sex on the campus of grammar school. Alex said that it was the possibility of being seen by the young children that turned him on the most. By telling me this story, Alex was trying to accomplish two goals: inform me of his preference for homosexual partners outside of his prostitution, and test my willingness to understand and to accept him. I told Alex that I understood the thrill that the possibility of being discovered added to his sexual liaison. It's a fairly common fantasy. What's unpleasant about Alex's story was the fact that it potentially involved little children. But given the fact of his own very abusive childhood, it's not that surprising. Alex described to me today how he found out that Larraine was his real mother. Apparently, for years he was told that his grandparents were actually his parents and that his mother was actually his older sister. It was not until his grandparents died that he finally learned the truth. Alex has never been able to find out who his actual father was--Alex thinks his mother might not know, and even believes that it's possible that she was turning tricks when he was conceived. Alex said that he still has nightmares about this. Several times during this session, Alex broke down into tears, although he refused to admit it and tried to dismiss his tears as allergies. It's clear that Alex is very disturbed by his past and is acting out by putting himself into dangerous situations as a way of dealing with his emotions. One thing that I was relieved about is that Alex is very cautious about sexually transmitted diseases and takes the possibility of getting AIDS and HIV very seriously. He gets tested every six months and so far is negative. Alex talked about writing down his dreams and feelings in a journal. I asked for an opportunity to read it sometime. While the idea of allowing me that close to him was very scary to Alex, he didn't refuse my request outright. I believe that after a few sessions, Alex might actually show me his writings. At the end of our session, I tried to give Alex a visual way of thinking about his bottled-up emotions. I used a bucket and water analogy to describe his emotions. I was trying to tell him that if he didn't talk about his problems and feelings with some one, it would reflect in his life style and choices--prostitution and thrill-seeking being prime examples.

4 pm. Tenth Session with Thomas Darden. Thomas spoke mostly about his brother Alex's visit last week. Alex lives with Martha and together they have a two year old son named Jordan. But Alex is beset with jealousy. He suspects that Martha is having an affair, and he is continually looking for evidence to prove his suspicions. Alex thinks he got herpes recently from Martha and that's the proof he was looking for. He refused to accept Martha's attempt to explain it as possibly transmitted from a cold sore in her mouth during oral sex. So Alex packed his bags and went to see Thomas. Thomas sees Alex as sort of an alter ego who lives on the bright side, while Thomas explores the pessimistic side of things. But while trying to occupy Alex with activities unrelated to Martha, Thomas ventured out to many tourist locations around San Francisco and seemed to have an easier time of it than previously. It's too early to fully credit the librium--perhaps it was Alex's company--but Thomas told a story about making himself the center of attention at a cafe by doing an almost ventriloquism act with his hamburger, to the disgust of a table of politically correct vegetarians nearby. Thomas said that it seems like he swings from one extreme to the other--from being terrified by the limelight to seeking it out. He said that he can't get the happy medium that most people consider normal. Thomas said that an uncle once told him that Thomas was quiet and antisocial in an attempt to draw attention to himself rather than avoid it. Thomas hasn't rejected the idea that the uncle might have been right, although the anxiety in public doesn't fit with the theory, unless Thomas feels the anxiety because he feels that it is necessary to put on a performance for the public's benefit.

I sent an e-mail response to Peter Hossfeld. Mostly more of the same, with my trying to distance Peter from his magical constructs, although I was particularly concerned about Serena's attempt to use voodoo on Eliza. I told Peter that I believed that he had communicated something about Serena's attempt to Eliza and that Eliza's recent pains might be attributed to her belief that Serena is trying to cause her harm. Unfortunately, they are both magical thinkers and Eliza's problems will probably have to be confronted by using some form of magical remedy. If she was a devout catholic, I'd say use an exorcism. But as a Wiccan priestess, we'll have to find some other appropriate magical methods. Perhaps Peter can help Eliza on that level rather than by confronting Serena directly, which he seems loath to do. I can hope that Peter will try to play the knight in shining armour for Eliza and the prospect of Serena causing her harm will actually give him some backbone and inspire him to stand up to her.

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