Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 05/29/98

Saturday, May 23, 1998

Sunday, May 24, 1998

Monday, May 25, 1998

9 am. I received this morning a memo to the file by Malcolm Spunt. The memo details the incident which occurred on May 18th between Logan Marcas and Ms. Brenda Wolfe. While Mr. Spunt carefully condemns the violent behavior of Mr. Marcas, in reading the memo I got the feeling both that he was impressed by the demonstration of Mr. Marcas' combat skills and that, on some level, he thought Ms. Wolfe deserved it. I think that Mr. Marcas has a powerful ally in Mr. Spunt. Mr. Spunt is seeking a report from me saying that Mr. Marcas is no danger to himself or others. Of course, I can't give such an unqualified report on anybody, especially one who's been the agressor in a physical assault against a co-worker. I'll give him what I can give him, and we'll see if that satisfies him.

Tuesday, May 26, 1998

9 am. I received an e-mail message from Kester Langford. Kester accepted his brother's invitation to go to Paris and he's studying there and has been given a work permit by the French government. Kester is teaching English and plans to stay for at least three months. He says that Chester has been terrific, although he still exhibits overt Christian motivations. There's a gallery interested in his work and he's living in a student dormitory for a reasonable price. Kester said that he's trying to convince Me to join him. Kester asked if we could correspond as a kind of therapy. After my experience with Peter Hossfeld, I'm not convinced that e-mail therapy has a lot of value, but I don't mind being a sounding board for Kester's concerns.

2 pm. Second Session with Logan Marcas. Mr. Marcas began to open up to the sessions this time, although he was still exceptionally guarded. He expressed a desire to keep the sessions on a strictly professional, rather than personal, basis. I'm not quite sure how to do that, but I went along with his desire that I address him as "Mr. Marcas." Mr. Marcas is concerned with the specter of a security director in therapy, but I reminded him that he was here as a result of a violent, relatively unprovoked physical assault. He took my point. Mr. Marcas is single. He took the job at SII about two months ago, and hasn't had a chance to unpack his moving boxes yet. He does have a penchant for military art--insignia and drawings decorating the nose cones of airplanes, that kind of thing. He also likes automobiles. Mr. Spunt visited Mr. Marcas at Mr. Marcas' home on Saturday. Mr. Marcas was embarrassed to find himself speaking to his superior in sweatpants and no shirt. But Mr. Spunt is indeed a champion of Mr. Marcas. He is allowing Mr. Marcas to telecommute until his permanant status with SII is resolved. Mr. Marcas served in the Army for five years, although he is a little vague about what he did there. He did say that he was with the 82nd and 101st airborne units. After the military, he went to MIT and became interested in corporate and computerized security systems. His father is still alive and lives in Missouri. His mother died three years ago of a surprise aneurysm. He has one older sister who's a partner in a law firm in North Carolina. There is a smattering of cousins and an aunt and uncle with whom he stays in touch via e-mail. Mr. Spunt gave Mr. Marcas leave to write a letter of apology to Ms. Wolfe, which he did. But I'm no closer today than I was at the end of our first session to understanding under what circumstances Mr. Marcas can be triggered to inappropriate violence.

Wednesday, May 27, 1998

4 pm. Forty-Sixth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine began the session by telling me about how well her philanthropic projects are moving forward. Katherine is planning a vacation to Alaska with Phil, partly to search for her father. She was a little hesitant and defensive in telling me about her trip, anticipating an argument, I imagine. She describes her search for her father in casual terms, but she's planning on going to the town of Malbae--his last known address--and following his trail from there. Katherine has tried to imagine all the possible outcomes and has prepared herself for them. She's hoping that they'll meet and renew a relationship more as friends than as father and daughter. She seems confident about her ability to handle what she finds. Katherine told me about Larraine and Mark Rozzi's wedding--it was not the tawdry affair she had imagined. She was particularly impressed with Luke's appearance--she described him as a hunk. At the end of the session, Katherine thanked me for the therapy I have provided and told me that she thought our sessions were at an end. Although I still think Katherine has some unresolved issues, especially with her parents, I think she has made significant progress over the last year. It's always bittersweet to say goodbye to a patient at the end of therapy. I suppose it's like a teacher graduating a student. Their time together, often intense, has come to an end. While it's time for one of them to move on, the teacher must stay behind for the next student. I've come to know, like, and respect Katherine and I'll miss her. But I'm proud of her, too. She's ready for what life has to throw at her in Alaska.

5 pm. Forty-Seventh Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex broke his thumb in rough play with his father the night before his parent's wedding. He also discovered that he's part of a family that he never knew before. Mark's mother--Alex's grandmother--attended the wedding and Alex met her for the first time, along with Mark's brother, Alex's Uncle Cal. Alex felt like he was really part of a family, perhaps for the first time in his life. Alex has an enormous need to belong and he's desperate to have a feeling of belonging somewhere. Some familial emotion swept over Larraine during the wedding as well, and she wept and kissed Alex while they danced together after the ceremony. After his parents went off on their honeymoon, Alex found a random pamphlet for the Toughlove International organization among his parents' personal papers. He assumes that they have the pamphlet because they intend to kidnap him on his return and send him off to some island somewhere to be beaten into submission. It's clearly a somewhat paranoid fantasy. I would imagine that the pamphlet was just one of the thousands of pieces of targeted mail that arrive in everyone's house. I bet that there are marketers who compile lists of the addresses of parents of kids who appear in juvenile court and then sell them to organizations such as Toughlove. Alex seems constantly pulled between two extremes: wanting to belong and fear of betrayal. At Alex's parents' wedding reception, Lloyd apparently made a big hit with his present: a giant kinetic sculpture which he had delivered on a flat-bed truck during the party. It's over ten feet tall, with giant metal parts which move in the wind. Luke was at the wedding as well, and Alex's relationship with him seems to be jelling. Alex did say that someone, presumably Regina, went to his painting studio and trashed it. Luke helped Alex clean up, and Alex told me that Luke is now able to joke about the Camille incident. I imagine Alex is now past the roughest spots in that crisis, although he has a pattern of subconsciously setting up barriers designed to undermine positive factors in his life. Alex is organizing his life so that he won't need his parents' consent to anything. In the past, his mother showed an unwillingness to sign papers which would have given him advance placement in school. Now Alex is close enough to eighteen that he's willing to wait for a driver's license until he can sign as an adult himself. He's also willing to wait out school until he's eighteen. Alex has some valid reasons to distrust the good intentions of his parents. I told him that it would be prudent to hope for the best and expect the worst. Alex resolved that he was going to be so good from now on that he would give no one cause to kidnap him and send him away. Alex talked about Tony and Rational Recovery and confirmed that Alex's Tony and Sharon Lough's Tony are, in fact, the same. Alex even met Sharon, although he wasn't an enthusiastic fan. It sounds like Alex believes that Sharon has a dark side and he even speculated that she might be a psychopath. Alex, though, did say she sort of intrigued him and he thought she was complicated, although shy. But Alex did see that Sharon was sexually interested in Tony, although he said that Tony was oblivious to Sharon's obvious interest. Alex said that Tony has been known to be bisexual on occasion. Alex thinks that Sharon might be living at Tony's place now. Alex also told me that Tony is smoking marijuana "like a fiend" although he has given up crystal-meth.

Thursday, May 28, 1998

2 pm. Second Session with Samuel Eldrich. Sam was calmer during this session. His voice was deeper--an attractive baritone. He had none of the staccato whine that I noted last session, perhaps he was less agitated. I also noted fewer nervous gestures, though he still found it difficult to make and maintain eye contact. Sam found himself thinking about his grandfather's death over the Memorial Day weekend. He told me, when his grandfather died, that he exhibited tremendous grief for a period of approximately three months. Then, in one day, he consciously made an effort to shake off the effects of grief and was successful. But on Memorial Day, he began to have "grief flashbacks." Sam describes his grandfather as a sainted relative, beloved by his entire family. He worked creating an insurance business which was taken from him by the scheming of a nephew, now hated by the rest of the family. But Sam now compares himself to his grandfather and comes to the conclusion that he's a failure in comparison. Sam sees it as a failure in himself that he has sought psychiatric counseling. Sam sees himself as the recipient of economic and family benefits that his grandfather never knew, and yet Sam finds it impossible to cope with the adversity in his life. I pointed out that Sam's grandfather had more experience in coping with adversity than Sam did, which seemed to give him some brief comfort. However, Sam feels worthless when he tries to live up to his grandfather's standards. I told Sam that he is learning now a set of skills to help him address future adversity in a rational way. I conducted a limited suicide assessment of Sam and convinced myself that he wasn't in any imminent danger of killing himself. He has no fixed plan and treats suicide as an attractive fantasy rather than as a current option. I broached the idea of treating Sam's depression using drugs, and he was open to the idea. During the next session, I'll prescribe 50 mg. Sertraline (Zoloft), a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, once each morning. I'd like to give the Zoloft a six week trial.

4 pm. Eighty-Second Session with Anna Green. Kathy is a fixture in the house and is showing no particular interest in leaving. She has a plan to provide out-call dominatrix services, and wants Anna to go with her to her client's home or hotel room and provide security. Although Anna is malleable, I don't think she's likely to be that malleable. In fact, I think she's genuinely upset and doesn't know what to do. She offered to gift Kathy money to get her to move out, but Kathy espoused scruples against taking Anna's money, although she has no problem sponging off of Anna for her room and board. The professor's house that Anna is housesitting has a dungeon as an added feature. Anna came home early one day and found Kathy and a strange man leaving it. Kathy got paid $200 for her services abasing this guy. Anna was furious. The dungeon is supposed to be a secret, but now there are men out there thinking that it's a brothel. I found myself saying to Anna, "I told you so." But I quickly realized that wasn't very helpful. I'm afraid that I really don't have any idea how to get rid of Kathy now that she's so firmly entrenched.

Friday, May 29, 1998

10 am. Nineteenth Session with Sharon Lough. Now that Sharon's not on drugs, her tone has changed. Before, she had wit, but it was muddy, dulled by drugs. Now, it's sharp. She's really quite funny, in a bitter, caustic kind of way. She's also clearly very smart and quick. It's unfortunate that her energies are all misdirected and so turned against her own interests. As Alex made clear on Wednesday, her Tony is Alex's Tony. Sharon also spoke briefly about Alex--she clearly didn't like him because she had plans for Tony and she saw him as competition. Sharon sees herself as fighting against an actively hostile world. She sees enemies everywhere--at work, at home, in her parents and family. Last week she got an e-mail message from an old high school friend and instead of interpreting it as a friendly hello, she saw it as an attempt to gather information against her that others could use to put her down. I think that it's important to try to address Sharon's antagonistic view of the world. It currently makes her almost dysfunctional.

4 pm. Twenty-Fifth Session with Thomas Darden. Tom went to the wedding reception for his co-worker Gina. He sat in the parking lot for 45 minutes and finally mustered up the courage to go inside. He conquered his social paralysis through a combination of self-loathing and the promise of free alcohol inside. He gulped a few beers and then saw Rachel arrive with a date. He was in agony. He's convinced that she brought the guy there as a talisman against him. Soon after, Jennifer and her husband Frank arrived at the wedding, so Tom glued himself to them. There was a girl there whom Tom was attracted to, and apparently she was interested in him as well. But despite a variety of social subterfuges, Tom was unable to steel himself to talk to her. Tom spoke at length about the envy he felt for his cousin Lance, who's apparently particularly gifted at getting women to sleep with him. Tom described Lance's sexual exploits as legendary and repeated some of Lance's boastings about orgies, and sex with twins, and other feats of sexual legerdemain. Half-seriously, Tom suggested to Lance that they write a book together, "How to Get Laid." While Lance's sexual excesses look pretty good from Tom's famished perspective, Tom realizes that's not what he really wants. Tom said that he wants a girl to be his lover and his best friend. Tom is looking for a committed relationship, although I think he'd settle for less at the moment. But Tom wants to learn from Lance how to get women to want him. His perception is that currently women are scared of him. I told Tom that we needed to work on his self confidence, self image and social skills in general and that romantic skills would come as well. As long as Tom feels that he isn't worth a girl's attention, he won't be.

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