Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 6/20/97

Saturday, June 14, 1997

Sunday, June 15, 1997

Monday, June 16, 1997

1:30 pm. I got a telephone call from George Landau. He has decided to take a break from our therapy sessions. Apparently, I pushed too hard on the flooding strategy. It's unfortunate, because I felt that we were making some real progress and a break right now will jeopardize all of our efforts. But George sounded very determined on the phone. I'm hoping it is a temporary reaction to the session two weeks ago, but I'm afraid that I know better.

Tuesday, June 17, 1997

12 pm. Fourteenth Session with Eliza Raven. Eliza came in with bandages around her slashed wrists and the heels of her hands. She apparently tried to commit suicide by hacking at her wrists with an x-acto knife. I had no idea that Eliza was a suicide risk, and I was quite shocked. I knew she was depressed, of course, but I didn't recognize the depth of her depression. It somewhat shakes my confidence. And this was a close call. Eliza said that the reason that she stopped herself was that she thought of Peter, crying at her grave site. It's awkward with both Eliza and Peter as my patients, but I think it might be appropriate for me to contact Peter and let him know that it would not be amiss for him to contact Eliza. But that will have to wait. I thought it was my clear obligation to hospitalize Eliza--I think she is at risk for another attempt. When she started the session, she told me that she was sorry that she hadn't succeeded on her first attempt. Eliza was found by her mother in the bathroom, bleeding profusely. Her mother didn't handle it well, although Ben--her stepfather--stopped the bleeding and tried to comfort her the best that he could. He was the one who took Eliza to her session today. I wish they realized that the situation was serious enough to contact me right away or take Eliza to the hospital immediately. Eliza admitted that she takes her medication rather sporadically--she estimates a couple of times a week. I met Ben outside and he acquiesced in my decision to hospitalize Eliza. He said that he would gather up a few personal effects that Eliza requested. I took Eliza myself to the Adult Inpatient Mental Health Facility at the California Pacific Medical Center, Pacific Campus. Eliza signed the voluntary commitment papers. I wrote up a set of orders including the proper administration of her medication (Zoloft, 100 mg.) and a suicide watch for the next 48 hours, after which I'll make an evaluation. I'll be stopping by daily as well to check on her.

4 pm. Forty-Third Session with Sylvia Bows. Sylvia and Tom seem to both be experiencing post traumatic stress reactions to the recent kidnapping of Grant by Beverly. Sylvia can't sleep uninterrupted; she's suffering from nightmares and she imagines hearing the kids cry while she's sleeping. She also has the strong sensation that she is needed by the children while she is at the office, and if she can't raise the nanny on the phone, she needs to come home. Both Sylvia and Tom are taking steps to reduce the risk that something similar will happen again. Tom has stopped the child care providers from taking the kids out for walks further than his own back yard. And he has taken to working in the kitchen where he can keep an eye on the children. They are leaving their bedroom door open at night to insure that they'll hear the children if one does cry. Sylvia won't take any type of sleeping pills--she's still breast feeding. I asked about Beverly. Apparently, she suffered a nervous collapse and she's still being cared for in a mental health facility. Sylvia and Tom are not going to press charges. Sylvia said that Richard called Tom to express his unhappiness about Grant's kidnapping while that was going on. Tom said that Richard was probably going to try to use the incident in his lawsuit--incompentent parents with crazy relatives who let this happen--but Sylvia doesn't seem like she is sure she agrees.

Wednesday, June 18, 1997

12 pm. Fifth Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex started the session in a panic because his mother was planning on joining us. She was busy parking the car--she's fussy about getting a parking space that reduces the potential for damage--while Alex told me about her. He's convinced that she is some sort of femme fatale that will use her wiles to ensnare me. He also said that she was on a rampage--ever since she returned from Canada and found that the house had been broken in to. Having met her, I can see what Alex means. She's scattered, and rude, and mean and abusive towards Alex. I tried to point out that Alex has some serious problems--including a possible concussion from the head butt he received two weeks ago--but she dismissed it as an attempt by Alex to seek attention. During the session, Alex had another spell where he hyperventilated and almost became nauseous. I believe that it might be related to the blow on his head, and I urged Ms. Rozzi to have her general practitioner set up Alex with a radiologist to get a set of films. She airily waved off my suggestion. I think she might be a candidate for "Mother of the Year." And Alex was right that she did try to pick me up. I immediately put a stop to that, and frankly, I found her more repellent than sexually appealing, for all her good looks. But I get a feeling that the way she relates to men is primarily oriented around her sexuality and she will have difficulty trying to deal with me in any other way. Alex told me that when she came back from Canada, she brought a man with her whom she claimed was his father. I quizzed her on this, and she said that he had disappeared before learning of her pregnancy with Alex, and that he recently sent her a letter out of the blue. She seemed sincere, but I don't know what to believe. Alex clearly thinks it's a load of crap. He said that she has frequently brought home men whom she wanted him to address as "Daddy." I think that we'll try to set up a session with just Alex's mother so that I can get some of the background that I'm currently missing. My arrangement with Alex was that he would go and smoke a cigarette while I spent a few minutes with his mother. But he just disappeared, without saying anything. I thought that was strange and not typical of Alex, but he was clearly upset by his mother's presence during the session. The weirdest part, though, is that he dropped his wallet in the hallway just outside the pharmacy downstairs. Dick gave me a call and is holding the wallet for me at his store.

4 pm. Eighth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine skipped work today and came in to our session dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. She looked nice that way, and she was definitely more relaxed. Last week, she took my advice about trying to expand her social horizons and she went with Phil to an art opening. There she met Jake, an assistant manager at the art gallery. Jake spoke to Katherine quite naturally about a piece of Phil's artwork and impressed Katherine by the ease he showed in the world of art. Jake is also a poet and he invited Katherine and Phil to a "Poetry Slam." From the title, Katherine was expecting something with at least a bit of energy, but it was a simple coffeehouse open mic poetry reading. Jake's poetry didn't impress Katherine as much as his voice did--she found his smooth, melodic, and deep tones attractive. Phil was amused by Katherine's reaction to Jake, but he was encouraging as well. Jake and Katherine made a date for Saturday morning, and Katherine is positively giddy about it. She said that she can't concentrate, so she took the day off. But when I gently cautioned her--she immediately pounced on me--she told me in no uncertain terms that she wasn't going to allow herself to get lost in the experience and that she wasn't the type of woman who was going to led around by a man. She feels that she is in control of the situation--which allows her to experience change without being as unnerved as if she weren't in control.. Katherine wants me to address her as Katherine during our sessions--it was easier to do when she wasn't dressed in her business suit, although I still forgot a few times. She has another brother, older, whom I had never heard of before. His name is Joey, and Katherine holds him in obvious contempt. Strange, really, because Joey sounds like he is following much the same path that Katherine is--you'd expect her to have more in common with her brother the lawyer than her brother the artist. Joey is trying to make partner with a lawfirm back east, and Katherine thinks that he is leading a completely artificial life, dictated by the requirements of his monetary ambitions. He is having marital difficulties, which Katherine believes follow a predictable path of infidelity by Joey, separation, and then reconciliation--and the ultimate reconciliation is for all the wrong reasons. Katherine said that, as the oldest, Joey resented her for destroying his status as the only child. Her father left and her mother worked all the time, so Joey decided to become man of the house and take on an authoritarian and bossy role. Katherine did her best to ignore him and took care of Phil, leaving Joey somewhat emotionally distant. I noticed that at the end of the session, she seemed suddenly in a hurry to get out of the conversation. I could feel her suddenly withdraw her emotions and become a little closed when we were talking about her family and upbringing.

Thursday, June 19, 1997

12 pm. Thirteenth Session with Christina Herald. Chris breezes in wearing a tall, stovepipe hat that is patchworked in about a hundred different colors and fabrics. As if she owns the place, she flops down on the couch, pulling her feet out of the sandals she's wearing and resting them on the couch's arm. It is nearly impossible to be irritated with her when she's like this, though. Again, her impish joviality seems to be riding herd over her personality today. She is wearing a t-shirt with the picture of Einstein with his tongue stuck out screened on it, and cutoff shorts. Even in this decidedly casual dress, she still has the slightly different edge to her attitude. As I mentioned during the session, she's a woman rather than a girl, student, whatever. She tosses the hat onto the couch after a while, leaning forward with interest. She's relaxed and friendly, and it's easy to slip into casual conversation and away from the professional mien if one is not paying attention. She maintains the cheerfully exuberant demeanor all through the session, especially when showing me the pictures. Bessa looks extremely attractive, tall and blonde, dressed in black even in a photo shot in the summer sunshine. Jonny and Frank Herald do indeed resemble Chris a lot, Jonny being a clean-cut, curly-haired teenager, thin and wiry, whereas Frank is a short but solid man with silver hair and a mustache. The dimples are unmistakable, though. We spoke of three main subjects: her frustration with the monotonous unoriginality of the high school students' papers on King Lear; a budding friendship with a history teacher co-worker that Christina feels some sexual attraction for, although she's busy repressing those feelings; and her growing relationship with her father. Frank had a barbecue for the express purpose of meeting the boyfriends of both his son and daughter. He seemed to like both Malcolm and Greg. Frank seems to be busy trying to build bridges to his family even while his relationship with his wife seems to be coming to an end.

4 pm. Forty-Sixth Session with Anna Green. Against my advice, Anna is back with Martin. He had a conversation with her and oiled his way back into her good graces. I have such a strong reaction against him that it's palpable in the sessions--even Anna can tell. But I can't help it. I feel that he is pushing her in a direction that she is willing to go, but that will ultimately not be good for her. But for right now, Anna is very happy. I knew that she still had vestiges of feelings left for Martin, and her strong reaction to the possibility of having a conversation with Martin clued me in on how easily she could be swayed to his purposes. But I really thought that she would be able to resist him. Apparently, I was wrong. Martin's argument to Anna was that what Gray did was despicable within the S&M community. I didn't know, but apparently consummating a session with sex has to be explicitly negotiated and consented to prior to commencing a scene. Failing to do so, and having sex with someone who has consented to "play" but nothing more, is considered very bad form--akin to taking advantage of a woman while she's drunk. She might say yes, but it cannot be considered a truly voluntary consent. Martin told Anna that he had no idea that she hadn't consented in advance to having sex with Gray, so that he assumed that's what she wanted. Anna ate all this up. She really just needed a good excuse to forgive him. And so she has. Martin said that he's willing to partake of "vanilla" sex every once in a while to appease Anna. What a concession! Martin told Anna that now that the constraints of time and distance have been eliminated, they can take their relationship very slowly. As comforting as that sounds, I'm quite afraid that this will end badly.

Friday, June 20, 1997

I received another fax from the Anonymous Faxer today. In contrast to the last one, which frankly scared me, this one is much more in line with what I already know about the Anonymous Faxer. A naked man is running out of frame, while a family group, presumably his, sits in Victorian costume and watches calmly. He's running away from them, but they don't look at all perturbed. It's what they expect, perhaps even what they desire. Although the central character is the man running in the foreground, the picture isn't really about him at all. It's about the mother and the two children watching. Their calm take on this naked man running is what this picture is about. Is the Anonymous Faxer upset that his "running away" stirs up so few emotional ripples?

4 pm. Thirteenth Session with Thomas Darden. Thomas began the session in obviously high spirits. I assumed that he had met someone and turned out not to have been far wrong. It seems that Sharon has reached out to Thomas. She is not sure about how she feels about the man she intends to marry, and she called Thomas and left him a message to contact her. Through e-mail and then the telephone, they hooked up and relived and partially rekindled some of their old passion. But while Thomas is ebullient, I am less than thrilled. Thomas' relationship with Sharon was all about need and making him whole through her regard. But it didn't have any of the hallmarks of a stable, long-term relationship. I think that his relationship with Sharon was actually destructive, and I told him so, although he didn't like hearing it much. Thomas said that he would have killed himself had he experienced several more months of emotional bleakness such as he was suffering prior to his vacation. I think that Thomas is much more resilient and clear headed than that, but I should remember that he is a depressed patient capable of suicide and I should assess the danger whenever his depression seems to be getting the better of him. And, of course, Thomas is going to gobble whatever crumb of a relationship that Sharon is willing to feed him. I should just expect that and then be prepared to pick up the pieces.

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