Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 10/31/97

Saturday, October 25, 1997

Sunday, October 26, 1997

Monday, October 27, 1997

10 am. Telephone Conversation with Sgt. Tracy Keefe respecting Peter Hossfeld. They just let him go. I finally got hold of Keefe and he told me that they released Peter on Wednesday. Keefe even told Peter that I intended to have him committed. I'm not surprised now that Peter hasn't contacted me. I guess I have little to do but just wait. The authorities are clearly not interested in trying to ward off a crime that hasn't yet occurred--Peter had turned himself in voluntarily, and they never even got him looked at by a psychiatrist. I feel a responsibility to warn Eliza of Peter's current condition, and I'll do so. But if Peter has really turned towards violence, there's little I can do to stop him unless he contacts me.

2 pm. Initial Session with Jesse Trent. Jesse came in for an initial appointment after a brief telephone call. His wife, Maddie Trent, works for SII as a graphic artist and Jesse came to see me under her health insurance. Jesse is quite tall and thin--he stoops somewhat elaborately to try to appear shorter. He has dark hair and blue eyes. Although he is 28, he appears much younger--although I'm terrible at that game, I would have guessed he was about 20. Jesse told me his story in a quite matter of fact way. He seems like a logical, organized thinker. Jesse and Maddie are from St. Louis, Missouri. He met his wife when he was 22 and she was 20, and they had a whirlwind romance which resulted in Maddie become pregnant. Jesse wanted to marry her regardless of her pregnancy, and Maddie and Jesse were happily contemplating their future together with a child despite the pronounced displeasure of their respective parents. But after the marriage, when Maddie was seven months pregnant, her car was hit by another driven by a young kid who ran a stop sign. Maddie was severely injured and lost the baby. But with time, and each other's support, they got through the crisis and Jesse feels their marriage got even stronger as a result. Jesse worked as a photographer, mostly doing weddings, and Maddie went to college and became a graphic artist. They moved to San Francisco a year ago after Maddie accepted a position with SII. After they were here, Jesse found a position in a used bookstore, which he likes very much. But six weeks ago, Jesse went back to St. Louis for his parents' 30th anniversary. Maddie, at the last minute, decided to stay behind and finish some work on deadline. While Jesse was away, someone broke into their apartment and brutally raped and beat Maddie. She lost consciousness while being suffocated with a pillow towards the end of the lengthy ordeal, and the rapist, probably thinking she was dead, finally left. Maddie called the police, who notified Jesse in St. Louis. He was able to return quickly and arrived to find Maddie sedated in the hospital. While the police have "a few" suspects, they have yet to make an arrest. Maddie is angry and bitter, but she's recovered physically. She's in therapy, but Jesse feels that she has become very distant from him. My first advice to Jesse was for him to make it clear to Maddie that the rape hasn't changed the way that he feels about her, and that he doesn't feel that it was somehow her fault. Jesse said that Maddie was quite clear on the fact that it wasn't her fault, but he indicated that she might blame him in some way. Perhaps she feels that he should have been there to protect her. We ran out of time, but I asked Jesse to keep a journal and try to use it to articulate his thoughts and feelings about the rape. Everyone is going to be very focused on Maddie's feelings, as is appropriate, but Jesse is also clearly a victim of this brutal attack.

Tuesday, October 28, 1997

1 pm. Tenth Session with Kester Langford. Kester got positive news from his medical tests--his tumor is benign--but he is completely wrapped up in the impersonal nature of the process. His entire focus is on the dehumanization he felt undergoing a series of tests, rather than on the information that the tests provided. I recently read Oliver Sacks' book, "A Leg to Stand On" in which he describes becoming a patient after suffering a serious trauma to his leg. He was also particularly impressed by the dehumanization of being a patient and said that the experience profoundly affected the manner in which he now practices medicine. I guess it's easy for physicians to become results-oriented and forget that patients see the process itself as a kind of "hero's journey" through a frightening and foreign world where they must confront their own deepest anxieties about mortality. Although very cautious to avoid hurting my feelings, Kester even said that he felt like I was judging him sometimes. I told him that my continuing diagnosis was part of the process but that I also viewed him as a person. That seemed to satisfy him. Kester said that he had a surprisingly pleasant telephone conversation with his brother, Chester. He also said that he has been asked to be in a group show at the gallery, that his relationship with Me is solidifying, and that Evelyn wrote him a "Dear John" letter, which actually helped relieve some of his guilt for not having written her earlier about Me.

Wednesday, October 29, 1997

4 pm. Twenty-Third Session with Katherine Lippard. Katherine came in talking about her success at work and her compulsive cleaning efforts at home. It was obvious that something serious was bothering her. She exhibited a flat affect, and she was rambling and wouldn't meet my eye. When I forced her to it, though, she took a deep breath and dove in. During her visit, Katherine's mother told her that she had instructed Katherine's father to stop calling. Katherine would mope for days after each telephone call from her father, and Katherine's mother believed that if he just stopped calling, it would allow Katherine to recover from her feelings of hurt over the separation. I think, instead, it probably did far worse injury to Katherine to feel abandoned by her father, but I understand that Katherine's mother's motives weren't motivated by spite or a desire to hurt Katherine. And Katherine does too. She says that she feels two ways about it--understanding her mother's action and furious about it. I spent a considerable part of the session talking about allowing Katherine to feel what she feels, without deciding whether or not her feeling is appropriate or justified. I tried to tell Katherine that she has always cut short her grieving process and so has never felt its cleansing effects. Katherine was defensive when I challenged her and she was defensive when she felt that I was criticising her mother. She also made a leery reference to Jake which I let slide--something about it not being safe to allow herself to experience her true emotions in front of him.

5 pm. Twenty-Second Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex came in tired and upset. He was unhappy that Katherine left her session without saying hello to him. He felt that Jake had just humored him, even though Jake has hung two of his paintings in the gallery. He met with Eleanor, the woman from the children's book company, who told him that he wasn't yet ready to produce art professionally. But really, Alex was frayed from the revelation that Ralph has AIDS. Apparently, Ralph has been undergoing treatment for AIDS for the past 10 years and has been having remarkable results with the Crixovan treatment. Alex was stung by the news and was terrified by the idea of Ralph's mortality--he thinks of Ralph as his only family. And Alex told me that he is really all of the family that Ralph has--there are no siblings or parents that Alex knows of. Ralph confessed to Alex that he didn't know how old Alex was when he hired him as a male prostitute to roll around naked on buttered slices of white bread. And Alex told me that Ralph and he have never had a sexual relationship, except for the bread episode. I note that Alex's fear of separation is so acute that he reacted to Ralph's illness with an instinct to flee--although what he was afraid of was clearly abandonment and not some fear of falling ill himself by contact with an AIDS patient. I tried to reassure Alex that AIDS was no longer the death sentence that it used to be, although I am worried about the flu symptoms that Ralph currently exhibits. I urged Alex to take the quazepam I prescribed if he felt further insomnia, but Alex resisted because he said he doesn't want to feel drugged. Alex said that he paints during his sleepless periods and is at work on a large canvas depicting a car using using a stippling technique. He gave me a drawing which he called "Performance Anxiety" depicting a man, obviously late, racing towards a concert in full dress while heavily burdened with a cello.

Thursday, October 30, 1997

10 am. Eighth Session with Decker Jenkins. Decker began talking about his father's visit to San Francisco and the revelations it brought about Decker's childhood. Karen was a hippie in 1968 and she ingested a number of drugs, including LSD and marijuana, which was her drug of choice. She met and got pregnant by Anthony Parish, Decker's father, and they got married. Throughout the pregnancy, however, Karen continued to smoke marijuana against Anthony's wishes. After Decker was born, Karen ignored the baby and, according to Anthony, he had to take charge. But when Karen refused to give up drugs, Anthony left and tried to take Decker with him. When Karen threatened him and the baby with violence, Decker's father just left, never to be heard from until now. That story doesn't ring true to me. If Decker's father was so concerned about the well-being of an infant with an unfeeling and irresponsible mother, he would never have abandoned the infant, at least not in an attempt to get Karen to change her drug-using behavior. But I'm certain that Anthony is motivated by rationalizing his own guilt. Decker told me the promised shocking story about Pam--the woman with red-orange hair and bright red lipstick with whom he lived in Chicago. Decker said that some time after they met, he was sleeping on her couch and she came and began to sexually stimulate him while he slept. Decker feigned sleep up to and including the point where she mounted him and performed intercourse. Decker continued to pretend to be asleep even during his orgasm mostly because he didn't know what else to do. So that was how Decker lost his virginity. After that, the ice was quickly broken between them and they engaged in frequent, unprotected sexual activity during the rest of the time, which I gather was at least several weeks. When Decker told Pam that he was planning on going back to San Francisco, she "freaked out" and said that she had been used by Decker. She even said that Decker had raped her--a charge that Decker emphatically denies. Decker doesn't know if she followed through with her threat by contacting the police, but thinks that it is possible that there is a warrant outstanding for his arrest in Chicago. Based upon what Decker has told me, a charge of rape seems difficult to sustain. Pam would have no injuries and there would be no evidence of force. And there must be many witnesses to Pam's and Decker's happy cohabitation both before and after the alleged event. However, a charge such as rape is obviously extremely serious. I told Decker that we should wait to see what might develop, but I am a bit uneasy, especially because I've never satisfied myself as to the actual facts surrounding Karen's death. I honestly don't know if Decker is incapable of committing a violent assault such as rape. To make matters worse, Decker told me that he met a girl back in the bar who turned out to be none other than Christina Herald--the double bock drinker. They made an innocent social date, but Decker is alternating between not showing up and fantasizing a long future with Christina. I can't warn Christina without breaking doctor/patient privilege, but frankly I won't be overjoyed if they decide to begin a relationship together.

4 pm. Sixtieth Session with Anna Green. We first talked about the infliction of pain through body mutilation: ritualistic scarification, branding, cutting, piercing, and even rib removal. I've heard of cases, which I didn't share with Anna, of people having metal plates implanted in their heads so that they can screw in horns. When Kathy first came to San Francisco, she was apparently in a live sex show which involved her being branded on the left shoulder before a paying audience. Anna has a strong negative reaction to body mutilation. At the Exotic Erotic Halloween Ball which Anna attended, there were apparently some examples of this type of practice which left Anna a bit sickened. She referred to the event as the Exotic Neurotic Ball. Anna told me that there are doctors who are also practitioners of S&M and whose practice caters to members of the community. I never thought about it before, but I can see how it might be desirable to be able to go to a doctor who wouldn't view the marks left by a whipping, for example, as proof of domestic abuse. Anna said that a number of S&M devotees who are also parents are worried about the state removing their children out of a belief that if the parents are involved with S&M, they must be abusing their children. The most interesting part of the session came at the very end. Anna came home early one day and found Martin and Kathy making love together. She recognizes that their three-way arrangement permits such pairing off without her explicit consent, but it bothered her quite a lot regardless. She recounted other instances where Martin and Kathy had made love without her being present, but they were always situations where she had given her explicit permission. Now, since she didn't know about it and they didn't seek her permission, she feels quite differently about it. And Anna still hasn't told me how she is avoiding reciprocating Kathy's oral ministrations. I see a few cracks forming in Anna's three-way relationship.

5 pm. Twenty-Second Session with Christina Herald. Christina was more upbeat and genuinely cheerful this session than I've seen her in a long time, and it was infectious. She is clearly looking forward to her date with Decker, and I had no way of letting her know that he was under my care and that she should be cautious. I think it will probably be fairly uneventful, actually. They're just meeting at a museum to look at baseball artifacts--and Chris is fairly savvy. She even questioned whether he might be a neo-nazi after a look at his shaved head. She can take care of herself. The driving engine of Christina's enthusiasm seems to be the large trunk of her great aunt's which she was given by her grandmother. One of the treasures it contained was a quite beautiful silver filigree locket that looked old and tarnished. And apparently there is a large collection of notebooks which are bound to contain some fascinating recollections of personal family history. At the end of the session, Christina pulled out a collection of thickly iced, bright orange cupcakes topped with grotesque plastic spider rings. I could hardly refuse. When she left, it was with a cheery wink, and with the express purpose of shopping for an utterly outrageous Halloween costume--something that would suffice for an outing with Anders. This is San Francisco, and Halloween is not to be taken lightly.

Friday, October 31, 1997

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