Transcript of 4th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Peter Hossfeld, Monday, February 10, 1997 at 10 am.

Mr. Hossfeld: Hello Doctor, uh, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Hi Peter. How are you feeling? I heard you got the scans done.
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah, here they are. Pretty weird looking. Sort of sickening, looking inside someone's head like that--especially when it's mine. That shot where you see eyeballs popping out of a half-skull; that's really going to haunt my dreams.
Dr. Balis: Well, try thinking of it as just another way to see yourself; an unusual angle, but nothing to be scared of.
Mr. Hossfeld: Don't worry, I'm not scared. If I was the nervous type, I would have freaked out then and there. I had no idea it would be so damn loud.
Dr. Balis: What, the MRI machine?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah, what a monster. It's like you're being fed into its mouth, and then it starts to roar. I felt like a sacrifice to the Gods of Western medicine.
Dr. Balis: It's a whole lot better than exploratory surgery; that's what you'd have been looking at ten years ago. Anyway, your neurologist Dr. Hardaway has had a chance to see the scans already; they e-mailed them to his office directly from the imaging center, and I talked to him about them over the phone.
Mr. Hossfeld: That's more than I've done. Isn't technology great?
Dr. Balis: He wanted to see you and you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible. But in the interest of saving time, we thought we should get these things analyzed as quickly as possible. And the news is good.
Mr. Hossfeld: Really? Do tell.
Dr. Balis: You don't have a brain tumor. If there had been one, we would have seen it. So you aren't going to die.
Mr. Hossfeld: You have no way of knowing that.
Dr. Balis: What I mean is that you won't die from a brain tumor in the immediate future. Yes, you could still get hit by a bus. But I was worried about you, and I'm glad to be able to rule this one out. You should be glad too.
Mr. Hossfeld: What about that other thing you were going on about--epilepsy or something?
Dr. Balis: Yes, I was getting to that. I'm afraid the scans could be interpreted either way. One of the temporal lobes does look a bit atypical, like there might be a malformation in one of its convolutions. But there is a certain degree of variation in every brain; unfortunately for us doctors, even typical adult male brains don't all look alike. So while we can't say you've definitely got epilepsy, we can't dismiss it as a possible explanation for what's been happening to you either.
Mr. Hossfeld: That's just great. So what do I do now? Should I start taking medicine for a condition you're not sure I've got? Am I supposed to tear up my driver's license? Are you going to tell my boss I'm an epileptic, so he can fire my ass? I can't tell you how thrilled I am with your "good news."
Dr. Balis: Look, it could have been a lot worse. I can understand that you feel concerned; let me answer your questions one by one. Okay, as to taking medication, I'm going to leave that to your neurologist; he can talk over the benefits and possible side effects. And no, you're not going to lose your job. For one thing, your medical records are confidential, and also the Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to fire someone because of a medical condition, as long as they are able to do their job with reasonable accommodation on the part of their employer.
Mr. Hossfeld: Uh, this doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If nobody's telling them I have a condition in the first place, can't they just fire me for acting weird?
Dr. Balis: You are going to have to decide how much to tell your boss. I am keeping all this confidential, I don't know what more I can do. If you want to talk to a lawyer about how to handle the situation, he can probably advise you better than I. What was your other question? Oh yes, your driver's license. I'm going to leave that up to you; there is no law that forces me to report you to the DMV or anything, but I'd be pretty uncomfortable if I felt you were liable to pass out behind the wheel. And I think the last time I renewed my license, there was a question about loss of consciousness that I had to answer under penalty of perjury.
Mr. Hossfeld: I wouldn't call it "passing out;" if anything it was a transition to a higher plane of consciousness. And it happened again last week, while I was working on my computer, same as last time. It's never happened in a car, only when I'm at work.
Dr. Balis: Because it has happened in the past only at certain times or places doesn't mean it will always happen the same way in the future.
Mr. Hossfeld: I thought you would be more help. Do you want to hear what happened or not?
Dr. Balis: Sure, tell me about it.
Mr. Hossfeld: It was an amazing feeling. It's like suddenly everything in the room was suddenly significant; all the details that I'd just taken for granted started pulsing with inner meaning. It wasn't like an acid trip, things weren't putting out trails or anything when I moved; but when I looked at somebody I hadn't even noticed before, a fellow human being typing away at his desk, he was so beautiful. It's not like I'm turning gay or anything--it wasn't a sexual thing at all. I just recognized him as another spirit, a naked soul seeing another with all the barriers down, pure communication. In fact, even the wastebasket in its shiny roundness, the drapes with their incredible folds, the monitor's magic glow--I'd never felt that way about these things before. But then I wasn't there any more.
Dr. Balis: Where did you go?
Mr. Hossfeld: I don't know. It might have been the same place as before, it might have been a million light-years away. It seemed like a bleak and desolate place. I remember rocks, but no trees. Nothing but spirits going back and forth, like a bus station in the other world. I could see them, and I could see through them at the same time. And the strange thing was, I was a spirit too, just like the rest. When we all moved in the same direction, it was like being part of a river, or the wind. When we flowed apart, I could feel myself being absorbed into the terrain, like rain in the desert. But even that felt right, inevitable, part of the dance. I must be getting ready for rebirth, that's the only explanation that makes any sense. I'm just so lucky to be able to do it gradually like this. Have you ever read the Tibetan Book of the Dead?
Dr. Balis: I read some of it when I was in college. Why?
Mr. Hossfeld: Well it talks about experiences like I've been having, closer than anything else I've come across. They call it the Bardo realm, the crossing-ground between life and rebirth. Usually you just go there after you've died, but there must have been other people like me; spirit travelers who went and returned, then told their stories to the people who wrote the book. Maybe there are special meditations for going there whenever you want that I've stumbled across by accident. Maybe there's a mantra hidden in the code I've been using.
Dr. Balis: Maybe. But you know, I've been thinking about this, and I was wondering--when you have one of these episodes, are you always using the same monitor?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah, I think so. Why?
Dr. Balis: Well, remember when you were taking the EEG test, how they were flashing lights at you? It's just speculation, computer monitors flicker at particular frequencies, right? It seems possible that they could trigger epileptic seizures, if you were predisposed to them anyway. Maybe in combination with the fluorescent lighting in the office...
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh man, why do you have to bring everything to this level? Can't you just admit the possibility of a spontaneous mystical experience, without having to account for it by some sort of mechanical malfunction? First it's my brain that's defective, now it's my computer. Maybe there's nothing wrong with me or my monitor; maybe I'm evolving into a higher type of being. Did you know the Aquarian age just started last week? There are supposed to be some major changes in human consciousness that go along with it; maybe this is a sign of what to expect.
Dr. Balis: Maybe, but I'd like to try the EEG again, in the place you work. I'd like to see if we can get a reading when you are having one of those episodes; that would really help us tell what's going on.
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh that would be just great. They're already starting to look at me funny as it is; this will really put the icing on the fruitcake. I'll tell you what. I'll bring the monitor home, and see if I can get anything to happen there, okay?
Dr. Balis: I suppose. Oh, we're out of time. Well I really think it's important to talk about this some more. Is next week okay?
Mr. Hossfeld: Sure.
Dr. Balis: Okay, that's Monday February 17th at 10 am.
Mr. Hossfeld: Okay. See you.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye Peter.
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