Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 9/12/97

Saturday, September 6, 1997

Sunday, September 7, 1997

Monday, September 8, 1997

Tuesday, September 9, 1997

Wednesday, September 10, 1997

10 am. Telephone Call with Ms. Schultz regarding Rachel Tanner. Ms. Schultz (I never asked her first name--she sounded so grandmotherly), called to enlist my assistance with her granddaughter Rachel, for whom she cares. Rachel is about 21 and is employed as a manicurist. She seems to be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, manifested in a series of behaviors particularly focused on grooming. Ms. Schultz told me that she was obsessive about her hair, nails, and that she took excessively long showers. I'm not certain to what extent Rachel's obsessive rituals dimish her functioning, but I've seen patients in the past who were completely paralyzed by their need to complete complex and time-consuming rituals. The grandmother was calling without her granddaughter's knowledge, so I'm not certain whether this initial contact will actually produce a patient. Rachel may or may not recognize that she has a problem. The grandmother told me that Rachel was a good student who dropped out of school at the time of her mother's death, when she was about 18 years old. She has an older brother who apparently has left the grandmother's home. We made an appointment for Rachel for a week from this coming Tuesday.

4 pm. Seventeenth Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine is now playing politics at the highest levels of the company in her effort to move into the CFO position which Frank Herald is vacating. Katherine is clearly less hostile towards Lloyd Major now. She's even on a first name basis, having had a lunch with "Lloyd and Frank." The purpose of the lunch, at least as far as Frank was concerned, was to announce his imminent retirement and begin the process of turning over the reins of power to Katherine. But Lloyd wouldn't have his hand forced in that way, and was clearly unwilling to commit to supporting Katherine for the position. Although both men praised Katherine's abilities and accomplishments, apparently after a few drinks, there was a sexist admission of an initial hesitancy to hire Katherine for her current position due to her gender. When Katherine pressed, they realized their error and "clammed up" as she put it. Although Katherine was surprised to find out that the job is not hers for the taking, she still feels that she is the leading candidate, and Frank seems sincere in his promise to campaign for her. I feel, however, that it is distinctly possible that she may be passed over, Frank's good intentions notwithstanding. Katherine described the manner in which Lloyd ducked the question of Frank's succession, and I didn't think Lloyd's reaction boded well for Katherine at all. He seemed to be acting as if he was distinctly opposed to her promotion to Frank's position. Furthermore, just when she needs it most, it's almost as if Katherine is losing heart. She's realizing, in a way that was hidden during her struggle to the top, that corporate success isn't bringing her emotional fulfillment. I tried to point out to Katherine that she can have a business life and a personal life, and find fulfillment of different kinds from each. Katherine is having some dissatisfaction with Jake, at least when he's not around--she says that he always charms her when she is in his presence. But apparently they've slipped into a pattern where Katherine pays for everything, and she resents it. Katherine analogized herself as a company with a great image on the surface but no real growth prospects. I pointed out to Katherine that she's very hard on herself generally and that she should be proud of what she's accomplishing in therapy--she should view herself as a turn-around candidate. She seemed pleased, not so much at the complement but more by the fact that I followed her somewhat unwieldy "person as company" analogy.

5 pm. Sixteenth Session with Alex Rozzi. I am very worried about Alex--not because of his mental health but rather because of the dangerous heroics he is planning to free his friend Tony from the bondage of drug addiction and sexual slavery. I thought about suggesting police involvement, but I knew Alex wouldn't hear of it, and he might be right. He has found Roly, and the two of them plan to go themselves to free Tony by force, if need be. The "self help" remedy is obviously very risky--and Tony also might not react the way that Alex envisions. Alex started school and his only positive comment involved art classes. Alex gave me a little inspirational lecture about how many of the good things in life are free. I had a feeling that he was practicing it on me prior to trying it on someone else, but it didn't feel like it particularly represented his personal feelings. What I got was a certain amount of envy over Roly's ability to purchase things that Alex can't afford--specifically a large CD collection. Ralph bought a punching bag for Alex and encouraged him to visualize the sources of his aggression by writing on the bag with a marker and then punching away. It really seemed to work for Alex, who was captivated by the idea. So every day, Alex has wailed away on this bag after having marked it "Die Benny" and "Fuck you Dad." Later in the session, when he revealed a great deal of hostility towards his mother (who is pregnant), I suggested that he might add her name to the bag. It hadn't occurred to him, although he found the idea immediately captivating. Alex's feelings towards the pregnancy are quite strong and negative. He voiced a hope that his mother would suffer as much as possible throughout. I'm not really quite sure I understand why his feelings towards an infant sibling are so pronounced.

Thursday, September 11, 1997

4 pm. Fifty-Sixth Session with Anna Green. Kathy is tired of waiting for Anna to make up her mind about a three-way relationship. She feels as if she is being kept on ice, waiting for Anna's decision. It's quite clear that if Kathy tries to force Anna's hand, Anna will take flight. And Martin has made it clear that he is willing to go either way, but that his relationship with Anna is paramount. So Kathy is reduced to tears of frustration as she waits to see whether Anna wants her as a sexual partner. Anna is aware of her own ambivilance and isn't sure that it's fair to embark on a relationship with someone when she doesn't have very strong romantic feelings towards them. She's reminded of her own experience with men who have sensed her interest in them and have replaced a genuine interest in Anna as a partner with their own stirrings of lust. Anna criticized Martin for not pushing for Kathy, if that is what he wants. She's afraid that he would like to sleep with the two of them, but that he doesn't have any great commitment to a relationship with Kathy. It appears that the longer Anna delays making a firm decision one way or the other, the more likely she is to hurt Kathy, regardless of Anna's good intentions.

5 pm. Seventeenth Session with Christina Herald. Christina broke it off with Malcolm, and from what she described, it went exceedingly well. But I can't help but remember some of Anders statements implying that Christina was Malcolm's property back when Malcolm was in his "bad boy" phase. It's hard to believe that persona has been completely usurped by one who would criticize Christina's china as inadequate to grace his new house. I suspect that Christina's jubilation over the ease of breaking off her engagement is premature. Christina's father also announced that, after his divorce from Joanne is final, he is going to marry Sarah, Joanne's sister. Christina and the rest of the family are very happy--even Jonny, who is Joanne's and Frank's son, seemed happy by the news. Christina herself seemed as happy as I've ever seen her. She was a bundle of energy and laughter today. Her whole attitude and expression conveyed the utmost joy at her father's upcoming marriage, and her eyes absolutely shone when she talked about seeing her childhood friends again. When she recounted her malt shop visits with her father, her expression was punctuated by a flash of her dimples and a somewhat wistful nostalgia, although the memories still make her smile. She left the session in much the same breezy, jubilant manner that she arrived--it's pretty obvious that she's back in good form. Her clothing even attests to the fact that she felt like herself again. Although still dressed professionally, having just come from work, she wore colors rather than a conservative shade of navy, and her curls were back. She looks much better this way--avoiding all the austere implications of her conversion to adulthood.

Friday, September 12, 1997

4 pm. Eighteenth Session with Thomas Darden. Thomas started out with an antisocial fantasy of permanently becoming a telecommuter. He imagines working at home and responding to all help desk inquiries by e-mail. From there, we started to talk about the awards banquet in the Bahamas. I thought it might be helpful to try some desensitization exercises--like those which failed so miserably with George Landau. I must say that these were not much more successful. Thomas was able to perfectly picture his own failure at the awards banquet. He imagined himself sitting alone, nursing some beers, or hiding out in his hotel room. Thomas' answer is to make up a sick mother to get out of attending. People with strong phobias need to have a very slow approach to flooding, and yet they want very fast results. It overlays a layer of anxiety on top of the process, which complicates the therapy. Again, I suggested that Tom consider Librium, especially as he has slipped back into a pattern of heavy drinking in what I think is an effort at self medication. But Thomas bristled at the suggestion. And he seemed to have lost much of his sense of humor during our session today--instead he was more openly hostile. I l believe that Thomas may have an undiagnosed depressive condition which has been overlooked until now because of his sardonic sense of humor.

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