Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 6/27/97

Saturday, June 21, 1997

Sunday, June 22, 1997

Monday, June 23, 1997

I wrote an e-mail response to Peter. It was the normal attempt to try to bring him back to earth and interest him in human concerns. But I also went quite near the edge in terms of breaching Eliza's confidences--I did suggest to Peter that Eliza needed him right now, and that he should wake up and take a look at what her needs were.

5 pm. Session with Larraine Rozzi relating to Alex Rozzi. Larraine came in today to talk about Alex. She is a somewhat hateful woman: vain, selfish, and manipulative. Her best quality, perhaps, is that she has a fair degree of self-knowledge. She admits that she never wanted Alex because of the responsibility that he presents and she doesn't try to color many of the ugly aspects of her relationship with Alex. Apparently, he is staying at the house of someone named Ralph, whom Larraine knows. Larraine believes that Alex's wildness is a reflection of her own when she was his age. But Larraine told me about the circumstances that led her mother to raise Alex as her own child. She also told me about Alex's father Mark--a cocaine dealer who left her alone and pregnant with Alex when he became concerned for his personal safety after his partner was murdered--and how she felt after he abandoned her. Mark's story is that he never knew she was pregnant when he left--and that he had to go or he would have been killed too. Apparently, she was taking illicit drugs while pregnant with Alex and she tried to commit suicide by swallowing a handful of pills. Alex was born by emergency c-section probably somewhat prematurely. Mark contacted Larraine now because he is in a relationship in Canada with which he is unhappy. He has two young girls and a wife, but he (or Larraine) is talking about leaving them and starting a relationship with Larraine. Larraine is completely unconcerned about whether Alex got medical help or not for the significant contusion which he now sports.

6:30 pm. Second Session with Lloyd Major. Lloyd came in with his sycophant sidekick late tonight--his office called and scheduled the appointment this morning. I was expecting that Lloyd might want to talk about sinal claustrophobia, but instead he wanted to grill me on Sylvia. Freely admitting his homosexuality, Lloyd told me about Richard's lawsuit for custody of Sylvia's children. I had never understood why Lloyd would take Richard's side to the extent of allowing him to use the resources of SII and Nils to help Richard research the facts underlying his complaint. But he told me that he vowed to help when he found out that Richard was suffering from testicular cancer. The cancer has been removed and Richard is in remission, but he has no future ability to father children. Now Richard's only hopes for paternity lie in Grant and Roald. Of course I couldn't discuss these issues with Lloyd, and I didn't. But with Lloyd's help, Richard could be a formadible adversary, even though his lawsuit still strikes me as poorly grounded. Lloyd's argument is that Sylvia took Richard's parental contribution by stealth and guile and that now the children produced through the deception are the only ones that he will be able to have.

Lloyd Major brought a doodle of Helen Gregory's. I have no idea when the doodle was executed--and I forgot to ask Lloyd Major where he got it. The doodle shows an almost cartoonish figure of a man being scalded in a teacup by the boiling tea. Drawn to be funny, it is clearly not. Around the bottom of the teacup are little ants. Lloyd Major said that it was called "Tempest in a Teacup."

Tuesday, June 24, 1997

10 am. First Session with Kester Langford. I met Kester for the first time today. He presented a fairly ordinary appearance--medium build, a day-old beard, black pants, a white shirt buttoned all the way to the top, and no jewelry of any kind--not even a watch. He was wearing black sandals with black socks. Kester's complaint is somewhat unusual. He reports an obsession with making marks--something that he's done since he was about eleven years old. The marks are usually made with some form of paint or ink on some medium--I don't think he is a graffiti artist. Kester's compulsion to make these marks keeps him from holding down any other kind of job. Although he's had several, he loses his focus when he has not been able to make marks for a number of hours. Kester is fifty years old, and he is clearly worried that he is unable to earn a livelihood that would keep him sheltered and fed. Kester doesn't consider himself an artist, although he said that many of his friends do. I didn't get the sense that he demurred out of modesty--he sees himself as a mark maker, not an artist, and he makes his marks because he is compelled to do it. I asked him to bring some of his marks to the next session. There's a certain intensity and desperation in the way that Kester spoke, although his interpersonal skills were generally good. He had a firm handshake, and he looked me directly in the eye. He expressed himself clearly and with plenty of affect. At the end of the session, I became worried that he might be suicidal--he seemed to be quite desperate to solve his problems immediately. He indicated that he had considered it, but had no current plan to commit suicide. He needs to be carefully monitored during future sessions. My guess is that Kester is suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and, perhaps, depression.

12 pm. I visited Eliza in the hospital today. She was in good spirits and seems to be responding well to the medication and her circumstances. She's off the suicide watch and has joined the ward. She told me that her view of mental hospitals had been colored by "Amadeus" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." But other than complaining quite bitterly over the food, she says that she has been pleasantly surprised. I spoke with the psychiatric resident who is treating Eliza, and we agreed, even though she is doing quite well, to keep her there a bit longer.

4 pm. Forty-Fourth Session with Sylvia Bows. Tom and his parents are having a disagreement about how to treat Tom's sister Beverly. Tom's parents want her to be released free of restrictions from the mental hospital that she's in. Apparently, she's stabilized there. Tom wants her to submit to a guardianship prior to being released, and he's enforcing his wishes by threatening to file criminal charges for Grant's kidnapping if he doesn't get his way. Sylvia is trying to stay out of it. She's arranged a family dinner to try to avert the crisis so that each can express their views in a homey setting--with Grant and Roald providing the backdrop to bolster Tom's argument. I asked Sylvia about Richard. Sylvia has grabbed hold of an idea of his about the cognitive tools used to remember and learn technical materials. She's enthusiastically implementing the idea at the same time as she wants to avoid any contact with Richard personally. She did mention that he looked poorly--he's lost weight and seemed somewhat withered and aged. But that's not surprising given what Lloyd told me about Richard suffering from testicular cancer. I didn't think it was appropriate to bring it up during this session, although I may do so in the future. And why doesn't Richard tell her directly?

Wednesday, June 25, 1997

12 pm. Sixth Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex looked much better today--he was more relaxed and his forehead looked almost normal. When I questioned him about running off last time, he told me that he simply couldn't be around his mother any longer and took the opportunity to leave when it presented itself--in the form of a young paramedic named Sael. He did promise never to do run off on me again. That's good--I was very concerned. Alex confirmed that what his mother said to me on Monday--he is staying at the residence of the man named Ralph. This is the same man that hired Alex to perform unusual sexual acts for his pleasure--Alex rolled around naked on buttered slices of white bread. Needless to say, I don't consider Ralph to be an adequate substitute for paternal care. I tried to show my feelings towards Ralph to Alex. Alex clearly believes Ralph to be a positive influence in his life right now, and Ralph seems to be doing a good job of taking care of Alex. Apparently Ralph runs the male strip joint that Alex dances at sometimes. He got a friend of his who is a doctor to check out Alex's head--his conclusion was that it was also a bad concussion. I'm furious at Larraine for not following up on Alex's medical condition. She was completely unconcerned that he skipped his doctor's appointment. I urged Alex to set up another time when he can get a full check up. But I have no confidence that Alex would follow through on that. Alex said that he hates his mother and now he believes that Mark might actually be his biological father. Alex is very upset that his friend and lover Benny is no longer returning his calls and is otherwise avoiding him. Benny is married and has a little girl. Alex apparently feels stronger about Benny than Benny does about Alex. So the situation is ripe for pain all around. I tried to talk Alex through some of it, but he is not in the mood to hear anything negative about Benny just yet. Alex admitted that he was in love with Benny.

4 pm. Ninth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine really liked Jake, although she said that he didn't laugh during their date. He took her to the mud flats--I think that they are near Coyote Point in Burlingame. And he took her there on a motorcycle. Katherine was impressed by the difference from the suit, tie, and candlelight dinner dates that she is used to. She thinks of Jake as profound and very intelligent. In the second part of our session, we talked about Katherine's family. There are a lot of raw nerves there, close to the surface. My impression is that her relationship with her father was very close until he left the family to pursue his dream of being a bush pilot in Alaska, of all things. When we talked about this, Katherine's southern accent became pronounced in both her diction and her drawl. I was astonished. It was like I was suddenly talking to someone else. She started to cry and was really quite upset when I queried her about her feelings. She thinks that all of that is far in the past, so that she should have gotten over that by now. She also harbors resentment towards her mother. They lived in virtual poverty when she was a child after her father left. Her mother worked several jobs. Unbeknownst to Katherine, her mother was squirreling away money--she managed to get her three kids through college--two with advanced degrees. While Katherine knows that she should feel grateful, she also feels as if her mother somehow robbed her of her childhood. And then she feels guilty for feeling like that. At the end of the session, Katherine was able to almost instantly compose herself. Suddenly she transformed--perfect posture, flat affect, no accent. The tears even seemed to disappear. It was an impressive demonstrate of self control and tight repression.

Thursday, June 26, 1997

10 am. Fifth Session with Decker Jenkins. Decker has gotten over his cold and is sleeping better now. He said that he is resigned to taking his medication for life, but he complained that he didn't feel like he had a "clear mind" on it. But he was really uncommunicative during this session--he is back to no eye contact whatsoever. Although he was clearly disturbed about something, he wanted to stop early. When I called him on it and wanted to keep our session going, he exploded. He stormed out of the office, but not after screaming obscenities at me and saying something interesting. He asked me if I was afraid that he would lose his mind and "bash your head in, too?" I found the "too" particularly unsettling. Does he think of himself as a murderer based upon the different way that people treat him, now that he has been accused and then cleared of it? Or did Decker have some involvement in the murder of his mother that I'm not aware of yet? I should speak find out what medications Decker was taking for his cold and consult with a pharmacologist. Based on his fairly irrational behavior, it seemed to me that he might be suffering from a drug interaction between the risperidone and some cold preparation. If that's true, he should be better by the next session.

12 pm. Fourteenth Session with Christina Herald. Christina came in sporting a tattoo. It was between her shoulder blades, and depicted a Celtic knot in the shape of a circle, about three inches across. The knot is outlined in black, then colored in with blues and greens. I'm not a big tattoo fan, but it actually looked quite nice. It was done on impulse. She spent much of the session lying on the couch on her stomach, with her head propped up in her hands. I guess she didn't want to aggravate the tattoo. Christina began the session tense and upset. She said that she was in a state of relative calm with regard to external events--she seems to require a certain degree of chaos in her life to achieve equilibrium. Christina is thinking of taking a vacation, perhaps to the United Kingdom. She picks that not for it's literary history, as I was expecting, but rather for verdant countryside dotted with sheep. I teased her about the sheep, actually. She would like to see Shakespeare performed at the restored Globe Theatre--I've heard that it's in the center of London, a theater restored to be as it was five hundred years ago. Remarkable, really. Christina questioned whether her continued therapy was really necessary--I got the sense that she was mostly concerned with wasting my time. I told her that I thought that the sessions had continued therapeutic value and that I thought that she had improved a lot--she is not suffering from panic attacks with anywhere near the frequency that she was at the beginning of our sessions together. Near the end of the session, Christina asked me about Eliza, although she was clearly uncomfortable doing so. And I was uncomfortable as well. I really couldn't tell Christina that Eliza was in a psychiatric facility, but Christina was obviously concerned about her physical well-being. I told Christina that Eliza hadn't been physically injured and that her parents would be able to get a letter or present to her. Christina grabbed at the suggestion and tactfully changed the subject.

4 pm. Forty-Seventh Session with Anna Green. Martin and Anna are working to try to forge a new relationship together. Although they haven't consummated it yet, they are talking about how to bridge the difference between their sexual desires. Anna feels that she is approaching this relationship in an extremely grown-up fashion. Anna noticed that her friend Kathy reacted with disproportionate negativity when Anna gushed about Martin. Kathy was upset and left crying. Kathy also accused Anna of not spending any time with her anymore. While it is common that friends get somewhat abandoned in the beginning of new relationships--I think I've even talked to Anna about it before in connection with Caren--Kathy's reaction seemed irrational to Anna. But I think that Kathy has sexual designs upon Anna and desires an intimate relationship--and I told Anna as much. Anna reacted strangely. She denied it, at first, but then as she thought about it, she seemed to come to believe that it was true. But she wasn't disgusted or angry by the notion. I couldn't quite put my finger on her reaction, but it was almost as if she was amused. Anna said that she would talk to Kathy, but I wonder how that conversation will go and I have my suspicions. Anna is going to miss next week's session--she's taking Martin up to meet the parents. They've never met one of the men that Anna has dated as an adult, so they are probably going to have a whole set of inflated expectations for Anna's and Martin's relationship. I tried to warn her about it, but she tossed them off with an offhand comment about how she told her mother that she wasn't ready for marriage yet.

Friday, June 27, 1997

I received a fax from the Anonymous Faxer today. We're back to his favorite form of communication--he prefers to communicate graphically, conveying information through illustrated metaphors. In this image, a naked man is either breaking through a layer of dried and cracked mud and reaching for a heavenly light, or he is mired in the cracked mud and is appealing to a higher power to extract him. I wish he was clearer, because one interpretation is an optimistic vision and the other, equally valid, is quite pessimistic. The Anonymous Faxer's male figures are always heroically muscled, although this one looks somewhat starved--his bones almost show through the form.

4 pm. Fourteenth Session with Thomas Darden. We explored Thomas' feelings about renewing a relationship with Sharon on her terms. Thomas is starting to feel manipulated--he even did an imitation of a marionette. But he recognizes his obsession over her isn't particularly healthy for him. He is afraid of being hurt again by her. We spent most of the session discussing a dream that has had a strong impact on Tom. The dream is divided into two parts--an apartment with no furniture that is unbearably white, and a bedroom bathed in red light, with an impossibly elaborate bed. Sharon appears as a completely immobile and passive person in the white area of the apartment, but when Tom carries her into the bedroom, she suddenly awakes and they have vigorous sex. But Tom doesn't feel that he can completely trust Sharon, even in the midst of intercourse--he describes a feeling of impending doom. While climaxing, Sharon calls out the name of her current fiancé Antoine. The mirror on the ceiling fades to reveal something like an operating room theater, and a chorus of people are there mocking him, mostly representing for Tom how much he cares about how other people perceive him. After sex, Tom feels very close to Sharon and discusses with her his plans for the future. But although she seemingly acquiesces to those plans, she freezes back to her previous immobile state and the room switches from red to white light again. Tom wakes up crying. Tom believes that the red light, which represented intense emotions, also represented the times in his relationship with Sharon which actually worked--the sexual part. The white light, which accompanied his feelings of being helpless and alone, signified the rest of his relationship with Sharon, where he felt that he never had much in common with her. I also found interesting that Thomas realizes that part of his social problem has to do with a lack of trust and with an overemphasis on how other people are going to view him. It's clearly true that he is virtually immobilized through his fear of coming across poorly in the eyes of strangers. Self-consciousness usually is resolved during those years of teenaged angst. Perhaps there was some event in Thomas' adolescent development which didn't allow him to socially progress past that awkward stage.

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