Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 07/03/98

Saturday, June 27, 1998

Sunday, June 28, 1998

Monday, June 29, 1998

2 pm. Twenty-Seventh Session with Thomas Darden. Thomas brought in his pyramid of social fears which graphically presented a series of increasingly difficult social tasks. At the highest level of difficulty are flirting while expressing sexual interest and attending a party. At a medium level of difficulty is asking Rachel on a date, initiating a conversation with a stranger in a bar, and picking up a prostitute. At the lowest level of difficulty (but still difficult) is asking Rachel for lunch, going to a bar alone, test driving a car, and accepting an invitation to a party. I was surprised that seeking the services of a prostitute inspired less social fear than attending a party. And it was surprising that Thomas had difficulty going into a bar--somehow I thought that he was a denizen of such establishments. Rachel featured prominently on the list: Thomas is still driven to try to win her. In the beginning, Tom spoke of Rachel as a person. He told me all her good qualities and why she was worthy of his attentions. Now, he seems to see Rachel as a prize alone, a goal rather than a person, something that he can rub in the face of Scott Collavito. It's also interesting to me that the initial contacts are so much more difficult for Tom than the continuing interaction. For example, Tom views asking Rachel for lunch as much more difficult than actually going to lunch with her. Since Tom sees the interaction itself as easier than putting himself forward in a manner which could lead to rejection, Tom should probably try to just be a casual friend to Rachel first, diffusing some of the tension between them. But Tom has a way of sabotaging himself. We talked about standing up to salespeople despite the guilt that they often try to inspire. I decided to prescribe fluoxetine for Tom and began a six week trial of 20 mg. q.d., even over Tom's expressed distaste for somatic treatment last year when I had him on Librium for a few months. I asked him to slow down on his alcohol consumption while he was taking the fluoxetine.

Tuesday, June 30, 1998

Wednesday, July 1, 1998

5 pm. Fifty-Second Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex came to his session with Cami in tow today. She waited for him outside the office for the entire hour. She seems to follow Alex everywhere. But instead of finding Cami's solitious attentions disconcerting, Alex thinks of them as sweet. Without his knowledge, Cami followed Alex as he buried Darla in Golden Gate Park. He later discovered that Darla's unmarked grave was adorned with flowers that Cami left there. Alex said that he feels like she's becoming a really good friend to him. When I questioned Cami's motives, Alex clearly felt very uneasy. I got the sense that Alex was leaving out some details in his relationship with Cami, although it doesn't sound like they are currently having sex. I think he knows that Cami is still interested in him romantically, but with Ralph being sick and Tony being busy with Sharon, Cami's interest pleases Alex right now. But, of course, Alex is playing with fire. If Katherine were still part of Alex's life, she could serve as a stabilizing and sobering factor. Alex told me that Ralph underwent surgery for his prostate cancer. Apparently, the surgery was not successful. Ralph will have to undergo a course of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Prior to surgery, Ralph was given an powerful purgative to empty his bowels. Alex told me that he wasn't very supportive--it sounds like he used the occasion more for comedy than sympathy. Obviously, Alex is masking his concern because he can't come to terms with Ralph's illness. When talking about Ralph's illness, Alex became very nervous. His eyes darted furively about the room and he seemed to be able to leave quickly enough at the end of the session as we were talking about Ralph. Alex needs Ralph. If Ralph dies--and death seems a possibility given Ralph's quickly deteriorating physical condition--Alex will be cast adrift. Because Alex is distancing himself from Ralph, Ralph is seeing Alex less as a member of his family and more as the sex toy that he used to be. Alex told me that Ralph, as he came out of anesthesia, requested that Alex do the dishes clad only in his underwear. I suggested that it might have been the anesthesia talking and I hope that's true. Alex needs as much stability as he can get right now in the midst of a turbulent situation. But Ralph came into Alex's life originally as a voyeuristic trick, and he might leave on similar terms. Alex also told me that he got food poisoning while he was with Tony and Sharon. He used the opportunity to tip Sharon off to Tony's HIV status. Alex was shocked when Sharon didn't visibly react to the news. He was thrown off balance by the coolness which she showed. Alex figures that she somehow already knew, although I don't believe that's true.

Thursday, July 2, 1998

1:05 pm. Telephone Conversation with Mary Eldrich respecting Sam Eldrich. I spoke with Sam's mother. Nominally, she called to tell me that Sam wouldn't be coming to his session. He's swollen and in pain after having his wisdom teeth extracted. I remember when I had mine extracted in the second semester of my first year of medical school. For a month, I couldn't eat anything more substantial than "Chicken Sludge" which I made in a Cuisinart. I sympathize with his reasons for missing his session. Sam was obviously in the room during the first portion of the telephone call and Ms. Eldrich seemed deferential to him. After she got out of his earshot, she pleaded with me to give her some indication of Sam's prognosis--she really sounded quite desperate. I told her that other patients I've treated who share Sam's problems have done very well, and that Sam should do similarly if he's willing to apply himself to the therapeutic process. She seemed pleased and somewhat relieved. Now, if only I can make it really happen.

4 pm. Eighty-Sixth Session with Anna Green. A young man of about 18 named Peter, who was one of Kathy's regular customers, killed himself on Saturday. Kathy had seen him on Monday and had run through a dominance script of Peter's creation pursuant to his standing instructions. Kathy thought Peter was depressed generally and, several weeks before, she had refused to service him. But during the last session, she felt that nothing much was out of the ordinary. She debased him, he paid her, and she left. Five days later, he's dead. He wrote a note to his parents and then threw himself off the building in which he lived. The police called Kathy, presumably because they found her number among his personal effects, and they interviewed both Kathy and Anna. Anna was very straightforward in her interview, withheld nothing, and told them what she knew. Anna is Kathy's alibi for the actual time of Peter's death. The police seemed satisfied and they left. Although Anna describes Kathy as "freaked," she defends Kathy's activities and says that Kathy has no plans to quit. But I'm amazed at the blithe way in which people like Kathy ply through the deepest emotional waters. Kathy has no substantial understanding of the tremendous emotions which can be unleashed while someone is in "bottom space." I've heard of submissives who erupt in a murderous rage or become catatonic because of a crushing depression. Kathy is unequipped to assist her clients through these strong emotions. Primarily, she's in it for the money. I'd expect having a client commit suicide would serve as a wake-up call, but Kathy isn't answering the phone. Anna went to another of Kathy's sessions--this time as a videographer. A couple hired Kathy to dominate them and force them to have sex with each other while Anna recorded the session on video. Anna enjoyed it and said that she is able to satisfy most of her sexual needs by acting as a passive observer. However, she still wants to feel powerless during sex--she just says that she's waiting for the right guy.

Friday, July 3, 1998

10 am. Twenty-Fourth Session with Sharon Lough. Sharon is slowly recovering from her physical injuries. She's out of her cast, although she's sometimes still using a wheelchair. She told me her side of the conversation she had with Alex Rozzi. Sharon didn't register what Alex was implying by his comment about Tony's fragile health. Only later did she feel that he might have been trying to tell her that Tony was HIV-positive. Even though she was sexually intimate with Tony, Sharon sees Tony's silence on his HIV status as stoic rather than a breach of trust. I urged Sharon to ask Tony about his HIV status and she agreed. Sharon told me that Godzilla, her co-worker, knocked on her door and invited her to some new age Native American event in Marin County. Godzilla had a tall Native American man who was considerably younger in tow. Sharon recognized his looks and mannerisms as that of a drug abuser and felt that, despite Godzilla's introduction of him as her boyfriend, he had no interest in the older woman. The three of them drove together to some wooded venue in Marin and the man slipped away. Sharon followed, hoping to get high with him. She found him smoking something and he shared it with Sharon. It turned out to be crack cocaine. Sharon said that she only had a little and didn't like its effects. However, she did describe what sounded like a drug-induced reaction to the drumming and chanting and said that, overall, she had a good time at the event--very odd for Sharon. I was somewhat floored when she said that she wanted to go back, until Sharon told me that she was looking for further ammunition to support her general derision of all things religious. I am continually surprised by Sharon's creativity even if it is currently directed towards caustic but witty sarcasm. If she could direct it into a socially productive channel, she might be able to divert herself from her fascination with illicit substances. Her reaction to my suggestion on this point, however, was characteristically dismissive and creatively obscene.

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