Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 10/16/98

Saturday, October 10, 1998

Sunday, October 11, 1998

Monday, October 12, 1998

12 pm. Thirty-Third Session with Thomas Darden. Tom began our session talking about the seductive allure that the Golden Gate Bridge has as a method to commit suicide. But he really seemed better today and I was less concerned that Thomas was an imminent suicide risk than I was last week. Thomas said that he hasn't really been thinking about suicide very much recently. He told me that he likes to watch sunsets and was quite poetic describing almost a hopeful future that he conjures up as he watches the setting sun. We explored Tom's high school years today, and I can see that many of Tom's social functioning difficulties can be traced back to those days, and probably before. Apparently, Tom was sought after by girls even though he refused to take any initiative. But Tom always rejected their advances. He told one particularly painful story about a girl named Jennifer who declared her romantic feelings towards Tom and who was then crushed when Tom publicly and literally tossed those feelings aside. Tom thinks back on this particular incident and almost feels nauseous with a combination of regret and lost opportunities. I told Tom that I wanted to explore his high school and college years in more detail during our next session together.

3 pm. Second Session with Darius Booth. I learned a little more about Darius during this session, but I must say he is still something of an enigma. He has the clear tendency to view reality through a distorted lens which magnifies some tiny fragments and ignores the whole. He seems negatively obsessed with his co-worker Doug. Darius told of a particularly illuminating example. Doug apparently has a dermatological problem, and Darius anonymously left a pamphlet from a dermatologist on Doug's desk. Doug took the pamphlet and left it in his in-box for a number of days. Darius was provoked beyond measure--rebuked continuously by the pamphlet's presence where anyone could see it. Darius felt the pamphlet was left there intentionally to cause him suffering, and finally, he removed the pamphlet when he couldn't take it any further. Darius also described a performance at The Cha-Cha. He had a five minute set after another popular but crude comic. Darius' routine sounds excessively intellectual. He said his first minute is spent in a comic pantomime of evolution. When he said it during the session, I was trying to think of why that seemed familiar. After the session, I remembered Alan Arkin's routine in the movie "Simon." I remembered the bit as very funny, so perhaps that's where Darius is trying to head with his work. There was one moment in Darius' routine where he actually got a laugh--exactly one. Darius was so excited that he went to investigate who had laughed. He was unsuccessful in finding the culprit, but he did manage to persuade the manager to give him another chance. Darius has decided not to turn in his elaborate 23 page letter of resignation to SII, mostly as a result of the laugh. We spoke a little about Big Jill, but I still don't know anything about that relationship. But it's apparent that she still has a profound impact on Darius. Darius seemed a little more relaxed until she was mentioned. Then he started to sweat profusely, mopping at his face and neck with a large red handkerchief. Later, when she was mentioned again, I saw a second, small, neatly folded white handkerchief come out as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 1998

Wednesday, October 14, 1998

2 pm. Eighth Session with Kelly Wiseling. Kelly began the session by excoriating Oliver Sacks and castigating me for recommending his book "Seeing Voices" to her. Apparently, she found him to be somehow condescending or insulting in the book. It seemed as if her main complaint was that he wasn't deaf and yet he was taking it upon himself to validate deaf culture. I guess Kelly feels a bit like a Native American "discovered" by the Spanish. I see her point, but I disagree. I thought Sacks' book laid out the issues quite well and certainly illuminated much of deaf culture for me. But I was mostly ignorant of deaf culture before reading his book, so Sack's book came as something of a revelation. Kelly has been living and breathing these issues most of her life. Kelly asked me why I recommended the book to her. The truth is that the book meant something to me and I liked it--but I guess it didn't really have a lot to offer Kelly. I suppose I should have realized that in advance. The book was more for outsiders than insiders. But Kelly confessed that what was really bothering her was a communication she had received from her mother. Her mother sent her some "inspirational" stories of other deaf people. Although Kelly thinks her mother is genuinely motivated by a desire to help, she interpreted the articles as a statement by her mother that her daughter is a failure. Kelly feels that both her parents were emotionally distant most of her life. The issues Kelly has with her parents are more about a lack of connection rather than any overt abuse or neglect. But her father has little time for her and is consumed by his work, and her mother apparently maintains a certain icy reserve--she won't install the necessary TTY device to enable Kelly to communicate with her by phone, for example. While Kelly says that she no longer cares about getting closer to her parents, she clearly does. She said that she feels jealousy when she looks at pictures depicting warm family moments. She also said that she didn't think that she should have children because she thinks that she'll be angry at them because they'll have what she didn't. And then she turns that emotion around and declares herself selfish. As I get a broader picture of Kelly, I'm starting to appreciate that her prodigious sexual appetite may be more a reflection of her desire for warmth and affection rather than to satisfy a carnal hunger.

5 pm. Sixty-Fifth Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex has realized something of the dual nature of his own feelings towards Benny. I was impressed with Alex's self-knowledge, which has clearly come after some wrenching soul searching. Alex said that he realizes that, on some level, he still loves Benny. That love, now, is felt as a certain heart ache which intermixes freely with hate and anger. A stay-away order is in place, offering at least a modicum of protection to Alex from Benny. The order is reciprocal, which at a minimum, will make Alex think twice before trying to contact Benny. Alex confirmed that Benny is going to undergo a new trial. Which, of course, means that Alex will probably be a witness again. Alex realizes, on some level, that he is attracted to Ted because of Ted's similarities to Benny. Beyond a physical resemblance, Alex has found other ways in which Ted and Benny are similar. Alex seemed to indicate that he knew he was using Ted as a surrogate of sorts to work out some emotional issues surrounding Benny. For that to work, Alex wants Ted to be as much like Benny as possible. Alex told me that Tony has become a full-time drag queen. Apparently, ever since Sharon Lough left him, Tony has donned women's clothing and has become a part of the drag queen social circuit. Alex told me that he would injure Sharon if he saw her again because of what she did to Tony, but I don't think he is likely to act upon it. As I recall, Alex always seemed a little intimidated by Sharon. Alex gave me an update on Ralph's condition. Ralph is still undergoing radiation treatment, but there was an optimistic note from the oncologist who told Ralph that the tumor has greatly reduced in size. Alex seems to feel that Ralph's prognosis is favorable, but that conclusion is probably premature. I didn't have the heart to burst Alex's bubble, although I still need Alex to emotionally prepare for Ralph's death. If Ralph dies when Alex is not prepared for it, I think the emotional consequences could be severe.

Thursday, October 15, 1998

10 am. Fifth Session with Herbert Michel. Herb showed up in my office today with two guns and a lot of cash. I really don't like that man. He is quickly heading for a fall, and I'm not sure I'm the person who can stop him. Worse, I think he'll take other people down with him. I'm very worried about Lenore. Apparently, she's still living with Herb, even though she promised me to at least temporarily move out to a shelter. Herb said that Lenore wants to keep the baby--at least she's resisting his attempts to force her to have an abortion. But Herb is keeping up relentless pressure and is threatening to throw her out onto the street if she doesn't submit. I have no way of helping her. I feel like I'm forced to sit on the sidelines and watch Herb self-destruct and take Lenore with him. Herb told me about a big score he made by selling lots of drugs to a fraternity at Berkeley. He said that he never made so much money so fast in his life. But I have this feeling--a mere inkling really--that Herb is being set up. When Lenore came here, she mentioned a few suspicious characters who might be following Herb. And Herb said that the guy who sold him drugs also recommended the place where he should sell them. Herb also told me that his mother is apparently avoiding him. He used to see her at least once a month and they'd talk frequently by phone. Now, she's apparently actively avoiding Herb's attempts to speak with her. Is she involved somehow in setting him up? Perhaps the police have pressured her into helping them build a case against Herbert. I don't know. In some respects, jail might be a good answer for Herb--if he's in jail, he'd have a chance to get off drugs himself. I keep remembering Joseph Mazurka and how he was taken out. Perhaps jail would save Herb from Joe's fate. I hate watching a patient slip away like this, especially when there's basically nothing I can do.

Friday, October 16, 1998

10 am. Thirty-Sixth Session with Sharon Lough. Lila's mother, unaware of Sharon's previous relationship with her daughter, hired Sharon as a tutor for Lila's upcoming TOEFL test. Sharon spent half an hour trying to tutor Lila in the normal way, and was frustrated by Lila's unwillingness to cooperate. Then Sharon took advantage of their previous sexual experience and started to intermix masturbation with rote learning. After a bit of that, Sharon became the dominatrix and began to beat Lila with her hand and then a wooden spoon. Lila never consented to any of this. Finally, Sharon left Lila bound naked to the bed, although Sharon believed that she would be able to free herself if she tried. I couldn't believe that Sharon would act so inappropriately, and I told her so. Sharon airily waved away my concerns. She thinks that Lila won't tell her mother what occurred primarily because Sharon wouldn't have told her own mother. I was actually quite angry at Sharon and told her that her actions were probably criminal. I'm not sure whether or not Lila is of age, but I found Sharon's conduct abominable.

3 pm. Eighteenth Session with Rachel Tanner. I felt Rachel was slipping away from me and back into her old OCD habits. She's been a mess since the incident with Carla, and a few bouts of illness have not improved matters much. Her physical appearance was poor. She's had an outbreak of psoriasis which I think may be stress-related. She's also still trying to recover from a sinus infection. I think Carla, school, and a tense relationship with her grandmother are feeding her stress. I first prescribed Prozac to Rachel on November 4, 1997. I decided today to increase the dosage to 40 mg. from 20. I'd like Rachel to be able to reduce the hair pulling and finger picking which, in turn, seem to undermine her self-esteem. Rachel seemed relieved when I suggested increasing her meds. I think she could feel herself slipping and hopes that the increase in her medication can stop the slide. After the session, I had a brief conversation with Dr. Malcolm, her primary care physician. He concurred about the possible reason for the current outbreak of psoriasis. I advised him to be on the lookout for Prozac-related side effects.

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