Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 06/05/98

Saturday, May 30, 1998

Sunday, May 31, 1998

Monday, June 1, 1998

Tuesday, June 2, 1998

4 pm. Fifth Session with Lisa Benjamin. Lisa was sick for the last few weeks, and while at home, she had a chance to reflect on her present circumstances. She realized, despite what she had been trying to convince herself, that she doesn't like her work at the Lusty Lady all that much. At the end of the session, she even expressed interest in increasing her role at SII. She said that she now realizes that her job as a secretary there might not be so bad after all. I hadn't realized just how isolated Lisa really feels. She has her friend Gabby, the prostitute recovering from a heroin addiction, but few others whom she numbers as friends. Her present feeling of isolation apparently is nothing new, either. She's felt that way for years. She told me that during college, she took a trip to Europe solo when she was unable to get a travelling companion. She's planning on taking a camping trip alone obstensibly to give herself more time to gain perspective on her life. Lisa says that she's been unable to connect with other women, even the women at the Lusty Lady. These are women whom she obstensibly admires but who also frighten her. Lisa stopped working in the booth, which seems to have lessened the frequency of her uncontrollable bursts of anger. During her session, she seemed both subdued and tired. But she said that she still hadn't completely recovered from her recent illness.

Wednesday, June 3, 1998

5:00 pm. Forty-Eighth Session with Alex Rozzi. Rozzi appeared for his session with his face and hands lacerated with scratches. He presented his arm, which was even more severely damaged. He told me that he had a confrontation with Regina. Alex caught Regina in the act of damaging Alex's locker at the Arts Alliance and when he confronted her, she went berserk. She accusing Alex of destroying her relationship with Camille. Camille and Regina broke up. But while Alex was defending himself against Regina's physical attack, Camille showed up. She confirmed that she had broken up with Regina, and shocked Alex by telling him that she was in love with him. Camille wants to consummate and continue a sexual relationship. Alex was taken aback. His earlier episode, where he almost had sex with Camille, threw Alex into some disarray. For the last couple of sessions, he's been nervous over his own sexuality. He's been questioning much of what he's always considered fundamental about his sexual identity. Now that Camille has openly declared sexual feelings for him, Alex is running scared and doesn't want to have anything to do with either Regina or Camille. Alex's relationship with Luke just stabilized and this threatens to throw that into disarray again. Luke arrived at the Arts Alliance soon after Camille's confession. Alex tried to be honest with Luke and told him what had happened. It seemed to be effective; Luke was primarily angry at Regina for her assault. During the session, I noticed Alex frequently rubbing his broken thumb back and forth on the arm of the chair and under the cushions. When I asked about it, he said that it itches inside and his only relief is found by rubbing it against something. Alex's parents returned from their honeymoon early and proved Alex right in his fears about the Toughlove pamphlet. Mark tried to threaten Alex with sending him away, but Alex has been fundamentally independent for too long a time to pay much attention to Mark's threats. I think that Mark is acting with good intentions and is trying to exert his newfound parental authority over Alex to keep him out of trouble. It must be difficult for Mark to suddenly find himself thrust into a parental role of a seventeen-year-old like Alex. In the last few months, Alex has given his parents plenty of cause for concern. He was using marijuana, he was caught stealing, he got into a car accident when he didn't have a license. However, I don't think Mark's approach is the correct one to take with Alex. He should work on building trust rather than resorting to threats. At the moment, Mark doesn't have the moral authority to make demands on Alex. As Alex pointed out, he will soon turn eighteen and be emancipated.

Thursday, June 4, 1998

2 pm. Third Session with Samuel Eldrich. I spent most of the session continuing my suicide assessment. Sam has genuine feelings of worthlessness that have a delusional character brought on by clinical depression. I don't think that he is in imminent danger of following through on his suicidal ideation. But if there is some triggering event, Sam is seriously at risk. He told me about studying "The Iceman Cometh" in a literature class and being profoundly affected by a scene in which a character's friends react with contemporaneous indifference to the man's suicide. Sam became obsessed with that scene and he felt that it triggered his last depressive episode. Sam said that he felt envy--he'd like to slip away without anyone noticing or caring. However, I find that difficult to believe. Beyond Sam's delusional sense of his own worthlessness, he also has a series of elaborate suicide fantasies. One thing that I found somewhat encouraging was that Sam wants to be careful to avoid brain damage. Apparently, the prospect of living as a vegetable is much scarier than death. Sam seemed a bit hostile during this session, but he attributed it to finally allowing me to see his thoughts "unedited." Sam agreed to taking an antidepressant, so I prescribed Zoloft, 50 mg. qd. for a six-week trial. Sam seems to be quite fixed in his current thought patterns. He's allowing for little chance that a different perspective will change any of his conclusions on his own worthlessness.

4 pm. Eighty-Third Session with Anna Green. During the last session, Anna was furious with Kathy because Kathy had used Anna's home address as part of her out-call dominatrix business. What Anna didn't realize is that Kathy also gave out her phone number in an advertisement with the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Anna discovered by accident that Kathy had been collecting the answering machine messages and then erasing them before Anna found out about them. Despite all of Anna's assurances to me that she would stay clear of Kathy's out-call dominatrix service, Anna did go when Kathy called her for assistance. Anna said that all she did was watch, but she described Kathy's dominatrix session in some detail. Apparently, Kathy went on a call and instead of the one man that she expected, she discovered a group of five. She got scared and called Anna to come and make sure that things didn't get out of control. Anna told me that Kathy was very good at what she did. By the time Anna arrived, Kathy had everyone tied up and was very much in charge of the situation. I was interested in what Anna's take on the S&M session would be. Anna was previously adamant about how dangerous and close to prostitution this business seemed to her. But Anna changed her tone considerably and talked about the session as if it was simply a private S&M party. Anna even said that she completely understood why some people would call for the services of a professional dominatrix instead of joining an S&M club--there's more privacy this way. Anna's attitude towards Kathy's work has fundamentally changed. She no longer sees it in the bad light of prostitution and female degradation. I can tell that she's intrigued by the business. I urged her to try to get Kathy out of her house and her life as soon as possible. Anna can be sucked under by someone like Kathy. Despite Anna's protestations that she's not that malleable, that's precisely the right adjective to describe her. Anna bends with the wind. Anna's parents want to come for a visit. Perhaps that event can serve as a deadline for Kathy's departure.

Friday, June 5, 1998

9 am. I received a fax from the Anonymous Faxer. This image shows a gravestone marked "mother" and "R.I.P." in the upper right and a young man in the lower left. Between them, in the center, is a torn and twisted person. It appears that there is some shape, a spirit or soul perhaps, which is being split in two. One is directed towards the young man's heart and the other is disappearing into the grave. I might have assumed that the twisted figure was the mother, but it has the healthy musculature characteristic of the manner that the Anonymous Faxer has always portrayed himself. I'm not certain that I understand the entire message in this image. But I think that it's likely his mother has died. He seems to be split between her memory and his new love interest. Clearly, this image is more tortured than any of his recent images. If I'm right and the Anonymous Faxer is grieving over the loss of his mother, the presence of the young man represents some hope for his future.

10 am. Twentieth Session with Sharon Lough. Sharon told me that she read a piece of literature that profoundly affected her--inspiring her with idealism and a new sense of purpose. I was pleasantly surprised until I found that she was referring to a Dilbert book. While Dilbert may echo deeply felt truths about the modern office, I doubt that it can be the trigger which turns a cynic into a life-affirming optimist. Sharon also said that she's having sexual fantasies featuring Scott Adams. Given Sharon's previous antipathy towards sex, I guess I should view that as a positive development. But really, I think Sharon was jerking my chain. Sharon also spoke briefly about a vague desire to get involved with politics--she would love Dan Lundgren to lose his bid for governor. Sharon fantasizes that he'll get caught in an outrageous sexual scandal. But I don't really see Sharon as a political activist. We spoke about Charlotte and I got a slightly different picture of her than previously. She apparently went on a spending spree with her portion of the property settlement and bought $7,000 worth of furniture. She's storing her old furniture at Rob's house. She also was deeply influenced by Martha Stewart and her house is crowded with the half-finished remnants of home improvement projects. I'd always had an impression of Charlotte as being somehow responsible and capable. Now, Sharon describes her as a ditz. Sharon also went to see the movie Godzilla with the woman in the office whom Sharon has also dubbed with the same moniker. Her real name is Mae. Sharon generalized that women are horrible to each other, even to their friends. She sees a basic pattern of women starting off well and then descending into snarling harpies after a few months. She used her friendship with Charlotte as an example. Sharon believes that men are easier because all they are interested in is sex. But women want to "fuck with your head." Sharon told me that she isn't having sex with Tony. She believes that Tony was only using her to make Alex jealous. She said that she's been in that situation before both with homosexual men and lesbian women. At the end of the session, Sharon accused me of being an expert in the "head fucking game" and asked me for pointers so that she could move from her current "up front and straightforward" approach to something a little more sly. When Sharon finally got personal, she admitted to having a host of revenge fantasies and described herself as seething all day, continually angry.

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