Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 12/19/97

Saturday, December 13, 1997

Sunday, December 14, 1997

Monday, December 15, 1997

4 pm. Initial Session with Olivia Stillwell. Last week, I got a cold, rather perfunctory letter from a Mr. Eric Stillwell asking that I take on his daughter as a patient. He is the president of a company that bears his name. Today, I met his daughter, Olivia. She's about twenty-five, short, and energetic. She laughed and joked a lot, even though she was telling me about how she was being stalked by a man with whom she had some kind of relationship, although perhaps not a romantic one. She was clearly nervous during the session. I told her that she had to take active steps to end the unwelcome attentions of this man, but she seemed resistant to the idea, even asking me if a restraining order would look bad on this guy's record. This first session dealt mostly with her quasi-legal problems, so I didn't get much of a chance to gain an impression of her. She did say that she is having difficulty sleeping, so I recommended that she try melatonin. I was loath to give her a prescription medication during our first session. I have a sense that it might be difficult to penetrate beneath Olivia's nervous pleasantries. It seems like a toughened mask that she's developed over a lifetime of being "Daddy's Girl," as she put it.

Tuesday, December 16, 1997

1 pm. Twelfth Session with Kester Langford. Kester is coping with a number of disappointments in his life with an admirable degree of restraint and perspective. In the past, I feel that Kester would have found the few reverses as almost overwhelming; now, he seems more resigned to a spate of bad luck. The items which Kester brought to my attention were a break-up with Me that didn't sound particularly permanent, a setback in the renewal of his relationship with Chester, an accusation of eco-wastefulness by an ecology-minded friend, and a delay in his group show. Evelyn, who was going to be married, instead ended in a brawl with her prospective fiance--apparently, he was already married. And another friend told Kester about selling options on stock he buys. Kester was enthuased about earning money on the upside, but I'm not sure he's done the math or considered an investment in which his downside is wide open but his upside is capped. Is it part of my function to advise Kester on his business dealings? Perhaps, if I feel that Kester isn't thinking through a financial proposal. Then my obligation is to assist Kester in making his own decisions but only after a thorough analysis of the problem.

Wednesday, December 17, 1997

4 pm. Thirtieth Session with Katherine Lippard. Generally, Katherine was more animated and even spoke faster today. She seemed excited and upbeat. Katherine had a little of her old enthusiasm that she brought to therapy early on as she talked about her recent realizations about gift-giving. Before she said that was consumed with the "equity" of the process. Now she sees it as more of a game for her own amusement. Katherine has a need to sum up her progress in therapy periodically, even if she pretends that she doesn't. She likes the reassurance of a regular report card. So today, we talked about the progress that she'd made in keeping her controlling behaviors under control. She sidestepped my questions about drinking and Jake, but she did elucidate a number of specific improvements that she credits partly to Phil and partly to therapy. She asked me how her need to be in control could be attributed to how she felt about her father leaving--she wanted me to show a causal link. I pointed out how she might have felt the need to exert control in order to avoid both the feelings that she kept locked away and the chaos of a world where she didn't have control--a world in which her father abandoned her. Katherine is looking forward to assuming her new position as Chief Financial Officer. It happens officially on the first of January. She said that it actually came home to her at Frank Herald's retirement party. It was interesting hearing her describe the Herald family through her own particular filter--they are a group that I've come to know well through Christina Herald, but of course Katherine doesn't know about that. Her impression was of a family that was free of tension. She described Frank's gay son and his date; Frank's daughter by Sarah--a charming hippie dating a total flake; and Christina--composed, organized, polished, beautiful, and educated. She wanted to introduce Christina to Phil, but thinks that she's too mainstream. I couldn't resist tweaking Katherine just a bit on her newfound liberalism. Katherine also told me about the internal machinations surrounding Alex's mother's attempt to stir the shit. Apparently, she was pretty effectively put down, although Katherine hadn't considered the possibility that Larraine was trying to set up an unlawful termination claim. I opened Katherine's present: a tie with an image by Dali that makes an optical illusion--one way, it's of a face, another way, it's a group of figures. She said that it was called "The Great Paranoiac" which seems appropriate.

5 pm. Twenty-Eighth Session with Alex Rozzi. Alex was jumpy and skittish during this session. He seemed uncomfortable, constantly shifting in his seat and even experiencing tremors at one point. Surprisingly, considering the fact that he hasn't slept in several nights, he didn't appear tired--actually, quite the opposite. He appeared hyper, almost wired. At times, he was almost hysterical--laughing inappropriately. If I didn't know Alex better, I would suspect some form of amphetamine abuse. Alex believes that he doesn't really need sleep. He says that he goes through periods where sleep is unnecessary--he just "runs and runs." Obviously, I want to encourage him to get appropriate rest--Alex's decision-making abilities are always impaired until after he's had some sleep. Alex has a contusion on his forehead from a fight with Mark over his mother's actions against Katherine Lippard. Apparently, Mark got the worst of it with three cracked ribs and a dislocated jaw. Luke has reappeared, suddenly making urgent demands on Alex for sex. Alex is beginning to worry about why Luke never introduces him to his family or friends. I sloughed off the concern, suggesting that Luke might be private and need time to open up and even suggesting that Alex's sleeplessness may be inducing paranoia, but actually Alex does raise a legitimate point: perhaps Luke either doesn't view the relationship with the same seriousness as Alex or Luke may not have announced the fact of his homosexuality to his family and friends. I just don't want Alex thinking about these issues before he's had some sleep; he'll make the wrong decision otherwise. Alex told me something odd. He said that Rosemarie has hired a lawyer to contest her mother's will. Rosemarie and Alex's mother were at odds previously; now they'll be at war. But the odd thing is that Ralph has rented the back unit of his house to Rosemarie. What with the fight, it seems that Alex's mother and Mark are going to be on one side of the line and Alex, Ralph, and Rosemarie are going to be on the other. With Alex yet to gain his majority, it's going to be difficult if Alex's mother attempts to exert some parental authority over Alex. Perhaps I should suggest that Rozzi seeks to get "emancipated minor" legal status to protect himself against Larraine's machinations.

Thursday, December 18, 1997

4 pm. Sixty-Fifth Session with Anna Green. Anna announced victory in her war with Kathy--she and Martin are planning on getting married in the summer. They have yet to inform Kathy of the news. Martin, concerned about Kathy's mental stability, wants to delay the announcement until after the holidays. Martin suggested that Anna's parents come over to their apartment to celebrate Christmas. Martin sees it as a way to avoid abandoning Kathy during Christmas and still fulfill his obligations to his future in-laws. Anna also welcomes it as an opportunity for her parents to see how domestic Anna and Martin are together. Although I was concerned that Kathy's interest was not going to be in facilitating a happy familial scene, Anna assured me that she plans to tell her parents, in great detail, about how Kathy is a mentally deranged psycho bitch from hell--in effect, attempting to dilute the effectiveness of anything Kathy might say or do. At the beginning of the session, Anna showed me an image that Martin drew of Kathy. Anna had torn the image into pieces; I taped it together for my records. I thought it interesting that it depicted Kathy's head. Martin always drew headless women representing Anna--never showing her face, only her body. In the image, Kathy looks mean--probably evocative of the dominant role that she frequently adopts in her relationship with Martin. Anna was upset over the triviality that Martin hasn't drawn any images of her for over six months and now he is drawing Kathy. I'm concerned that Anna might be underestimating the severity of Kathy's mental problems--she's very glib about ascribing both the threats of suicide and Kathy's frequent vomiting all to Kathy's attempt to manipulate Martin and her. But I'm not so sure. It sounds like a credible suicide threat and I urged Anna to take it more seriously. I also wonder if Anna would have agreed to marry Martin were it not for the competition she felt from Kathy.

Friday, December 19, 1997

10 am. Sixth Session with Sharon Lough. Sharon allowed herself to be used as a "beard"--a pretend lesbian slave to allow Charlotte to make an impression with the bigshots of the lesbian S&M community. Sharon feels that she owes Charlotte, so she allowed Charlotte to parade her around so that Charlotte could brag of having both a husband and a little slave girl. While Sharon described Charlotte as having been a super feminist in college, Charlotte seemed to have no problem in talking and acting in a way calculated to be demeaning to Sharon. It seems particularly insensitive given Sharon's distaste for the S&M community, which she must have communicated to Charlotte. Sharon says that she gave in to Charlotte's request partly out of a sense of obligation to Charlotte for providing her a place to live and partly because she is "weak and spineless." But Sharon took some actions during the event to make Charlotte realize that she wasn't enjoying herself. Sharon said that when she was a member of the S&M community, she never could trust anyone. Everyone had ulterior motives--usually involving sex. Sharon spent a day with her sister Linda and it sounds like there are no vestiges of warmth in that relationship. Sharon said that Linda is verbally abusive and her abusiveness reminds her of her father, whom Linda is closer to than Sharon. Sharon's father was Irish, and he was an abusive alcoholic. Although Sharon told me that he was physically abusive, she didn't describe any physical abuse. But she went into some detail about her father's verbal insults, which clearly sting to this day. Sharon has revenge fantasies, one of which she told me about: she imagines visiting him in the hospital when he is seriously ill and helpless, and abusing him both verbally and physically. In fact, she hasn't spoken to her father in a number of years. Sharon says that she wants to cut off her relationship with her family altogether, although she hasn't said anything about her relationship with her mother yet. I suggested, instead, that she focus on resolving a number of these issues through therapy, which Sharon joked was part of a money-making racket. I guess in a way she's right. Where would my business be without parents who abuse their kids? Sharon did open up a lot during this session, and I think the approach of allowing her past to come out slowly with only gentle probing on my part will ultimately be the most effective.

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