Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 8/29/97

Saturday, August 23, 1997

Sunday, August 24, 1997

Monday, August 25, 1997

3 pm. Tenth Session with Peter Hossfeld. Peter is clearly depressed, although given his termination from his employment, it is likely caused by external circumstances. He claims not to be interested in going to job interviews because he doesn't feel that he has the right mental attitude. He believes that he is experiencing a "natural low" akin to "hibernation" and believes that it is another rite of passage. He has also become enmeshed in the Internet which he claims to be a substitute for a social life. Although Peter's current withdrawal could be considered a normal transition, I am particularly concerned because of a recurrent dream that Peter told me about: he is an animal, with his right paw caught in a trap, and he finds that he has to chew his arm off. Peter didn't make the connection, but the dream seems to me clearly related to the bite that Serena gave him on his right hand and which still causes him pain. Although he was a bit reluctant to admit it, Peter told me that he believes it possible that the bite has somehow cursed or enslaved him, like the bite of a vampire or a werewolf. He asked me, as his therapist, if I was prepared to drive a wooden stake through his heart. He got back together with Eliza for one date punctuated with apologies and tentative emotional gropings towards one another. They've both been scarred by Peter's "Robot" persona and both of them are taking the renewal of their relationship in slow steps. Peter told me that he was taking aspirin simultaneously with the phenytoin and it's possible that the interaction caused the sense of dislocation which Peter experienced previously.

4 pm. Seventeenth Session with Thomas Darden. I decided to take a risk with Tom and I'm not sure whether it was a failure or not. Tom is paralyzed by the fear that others might not like him, and so his natural loquaciousness is replaced by mute terror when confronted with uncomfortable social circumstances. I thought I would try a desensitization exercise, so I took Tom to a bookstore and urged him to start up a conversation with a woman who he saw there. While she rebuffed him out of hand with a curse, Tom actually was able to muster the courage to address her and say something that was ad-libbed--after noticing her Cosmopolitan magazine, he said that he liked to take the quizzes offered there. I'd like to try to engage Tom in some previsualization exercises prior to his award ceremony in the Bahamas.

Tuesday, August 26, 1997

Wednesday, August 27, 1997

12 pm. Fourteenth Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex admitted to smoking marijuana with Roly. He mentioned several times before that Roly smoked pot, but I don't think he ever admitted to doing it himself. I tried to press him on this issue, but Alex was very volatile today--he was constantly on the defensive, he accused me of "coming down" on him, he expressed his distrust of me, and was generally very jumpy. Alex also told me that he helped Roly to escape from the mental facility Roly was residing at. Apparently Roly stopped taking his drugs, flushed them down the toilet, and begged Alex to help him get out of that place. I told Alex that he should try to convince Roly that what he's done was dangerous and that for his own health he should seek medical help. But I doubt that Roly would do this. Benny tried contacting Alex--he called him at Ralph's and asked for his help. Alex told me that Benny's voice had a very strong affect on him, but he managed to stand his ground and even laughed at Benny's request for help. Dora told Benny about his car--Roly and Alex trashed it a few weeks ago. But Dora also made Benny believe that Alex was responsible for putting him in jail. Benny threatened revenge for himself and his car. Alex said that he has nightmares about Benny all the time, and with Benny's threat they are even more pronounced. Alex also told me that he had bad dreams about the old lecherous art teacher that Ralph introduced him to. But Alex did confront Ralph about his friend, and while Ralph confirmed Alex's suspicions about that man's intentions, Ralph also managed to make Alex feel better and less apprehensive about it. Alex also confronted his mom. Last week, Alex told me that he was very worried about her health. But when Alex pressed his mom with his worries, she got angry and that conversation was cut short. Alex didn't stop his investigations there. He got into his mom's house when no one was there and looked through Mark's papers. He found a photograph of Mark's ex-wife and some letters from her addressed to Mark and the girls. Based on the information he discovered, Alex now believes that Mark might not actually be divorced and that his wife Lori might be in jail. While I didn't see those letters, based on Alex's descriptions, I have to say that I'm very suspicious of Mark as well. I don't think there was enough time for him to get a divorce, and like Alex I find his daughters lack of interest in their mother disturbing. Also, based on the reactions and symptoms that Alex described, I'm beginning to speculate that Alex's mom might be pregnant with Mark's child. This would certainly explain her frequent trips to the bathroom and general malaise, and Mark's strange response to Alex's questioning him about his mother. All this is taking a very strong toll on Alex. He is having problems sleeping and he complains of his mind constantly wandering and worrying about his circumstances. And he was clearly edgy during out entire session. I suggested trying to use physical actions to help Alex focus on the here and now--stomping his feet on the floor, slapping his hands, or any other physical action that would help to disrupt Alex's train of thoughts. This is a little thing, but it might help. I'll see how well Alex is doing next week.

4 pm. Sixteenth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine seemed in a genuinely good mood during this session--lighthearted and cheerful for the most part. She was also alert, quick on her mental feet, and open. She did hit upon some painful subjects and displayed appropriate affect, but there was an undercurrent of contentment through it all and she bounced back quickly. I think she is making genuine progress through therapy. She's noticed that she has less dependence upon the routines which prompted her to seek my help in the first place. She agreed with me when I suggested that as she gains increased understanding about herself through therapy, she's finding it less necessary to try to exert control over a chaotic world through the use of external routines. We spoke about work, primarily her relationship with Lloyd Major and the transition when Frank Herald retires. I asked her whether she was setting herself up as Lloyd Major's adversary, and she scoffed at the suggestion. She seems more than happy to play politics, if it gives her more autonomy and control within her department, as it seems likely to do. She's going to have a lunch this Friday with Lloyd and Frank, possibly to discuss Frank's retirement and Katherine's succession. She also thinks that her life is good right now. She believes that she's "getting it together" in her relationship with Jake, in her work, and in her relationship with Phil. She did discuss Jake a bit. Apparently, he told her that he loved her, but not in the same way that she loved him. It sounded to me like a classic attempt by Jake to try to stay blameless in a relationship which he knows is destined to break up because of his own lack of interest. But Katherine interpreted it as Jake being unwilling to admit to a love which he is actually feeling. Jake is not as interested in pleasing Katherine sexually. He is climaxing faster and inducing Katherine to take on a submissive sexual role bordering on light sadomasochism which she isn't comfortable with. I told her that she should talk to Jake about her sexual preferences, but preferably not during the heat of passion. She said that she would. She was able to stand up to Jake and tell him that she didn't want to go hang gliding again. She said that Jake took it quite well, and they compromised: Katherine will watch while Jake takes to the sky. Katherine said that no man has ever treated her as well as Jake has, which either is a testament to Jake's solicitude or a condemnation of her previous relationships. All in all, however, Katherine seems to be gaining the control that she seeks in her life.

Thursday, August 28, 1997

4 pm. Fifty-fourth session with Anna Green. Anna went into some detail about the dynamics of her relationship with Martin and Kathy. Although it hasn't slipped into a full-on three-way sexual relationship, it's pretty clear that Anna is flirting with a polygamous lifestyle. She said that Kathy has acted as a kind of lubricant, reducing the friction between Anna and Martin. Anna is upset at Martin's naturally slovenly habits, but Kathy quietly and efficiently fills in the gaps, doing the necessary housework without complaint. Anna said that it is as if Kathy fulfills the need that both she and Martin have for a "wife." But again, I cautioned Anna against just slipping into the relationship without having made a decision in her own mind as to what she really wants. She's clearly going in that direction, but if she's going to end up in a three-way relationship, I want it to be as a result of Anna's conscious choice.

Friday, August 29, 1997

9 am. I received another fax from the Anonymous Faxer. This time, there is an optical effect which obscures the image itself--the first time, I believe, that the Faxer has used anything which obscured the full effect of the image--as if he's acknowledging that the image represents his viewpoint. The image shows a straight road ahead with no turns flanged by cryptic road signs jutting out at strange angles. The road signs have a combination of question marks, the letter F, and a strange symbol possibly resembling female genitalia inside a circle. The tunnel vision seems to represent an increased focus on his future which, with the question marks, is obviously unsure. But the road signs are only early on in the journey. Past the road signs is a clear stretch of road, dappled with sunlight. I believe this could be interpreted as a belief in a positive future but with a lot of immediate uncertainty. The uncertainty seems clearly related to the Anonymous Faxer's desire to change his sex.

3 pm. Third Session with Alan Kurtz. Alan is happy because his assistant Susan has been promoted and Alan--who relates everything to how it will benefit him--sees it as a net plus for his career. Against my strong advice, he also intends to make a sexual overture to her, now that she's no longer a lowly department secretary. In Susan's case, he doesn't need the "insanity filter" because of his intimate familiarity with her over the months that they worked together. He finds her level headed and career oriented, which were his criteria for "girlfriend material." I suspect that someone who had been Alan's assistant for any length of time would be anxious never to see him again, but I could be wrong. Perhaps, as Alan insists, Susan really is interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. But when I suggested that Alan be cautious to avoid a sexual harassment claim, Alan blew up--disproportionately, I thought, to my suggestion. Obviously, Alan had considered the same issue--he had the sense to wait until she was no longer directly under his control. I think it likely, however, that this attempted relationship will blow up in Alan's face, unless he handles it with a deftness and sensitivity which he has never demonstrated in my dealings with him.

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