Transcript of 10th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Peter Hossfeld, Tuesday, August 25, 1997 at 3:00 pm.

Mr. Hossfeld: Hi Charles.
Dr. Balis: Hello Peter. How've your last couple of weeks been?
Mr. Hossfeld: Pretty uneventful. I've mostly been staying home alone.
Dr. Balis: Trying to find another job?
Mr. Hossfeld: Not really. I guess I'm too depressed for that. If you go to an interview, you have to seem sort of eager--bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you know? The way I feel now, I'd just be wasting everybody's time.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Should we be considering any medication--perhaps an antidepressant? It might help snap you out of your slump.
Mr. Hossfeld: Nah, I think I'll stick to my natural low. Call it hibernation. I think it's just something I've got to go through. Anyway, unemployment should be kicking in pretty soon. It'll be like a vacation for me--I can use it, too.
Dr. Balis: You're sure? Sitting around feeling badly doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Maybe I'm missing something?
Mr. Hossfeld: It's not all doom and gloom. I've had time to do a lot of things I'd been putting off.
Dr. Balis: Like what?
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh, alphabetizing my books, putting my magazines into chronological order. I've had more time for reading, and that's been real good. I've found out a lot more about Babylon. It's pretty clear they were the first people to get into regular contact with extra-terrestrials--it's all there, if you know how to read it.
Dr. Balis: And you do?
Mr. Hossfeld: Didn't I tell you I spent a lifetime there?
Dr. Balis: Oh, right. So that's mostly what you've been doing--reading?
Mr. Hossfeld: Well, there's a lot of important stuff on the Internet too. I never had a chance to spend a lot of time online before, but it's pretty amazing what's out there. Do you surf the web?
Dr. Balis: Occasionally, but I haven't had the time to get fully immersed. Why, what have you found?
Mr. Hossfeld: It's like we each had a piece of the puzzle, but nowhere to put it. But now, as we get in touch with one another, we can put together our little bits of knowledge and get a glimpse of the big picture. It's almost scary. In a way, we're all coalescing into one giant organism, eternally feeding on itself...
Dr. Balis: Sounds like science fiction. But I'd really like to stick to what's going on with you personally. What do you do with your typical day, now that you aren't going to work?
Mr. Hossfeld: You really want to know? It's very boring. I never go out or anything. In a way, the Internet is a substitute for all that.
Dr. Balis: You mean, a social life?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah. After I've been to the chat rooms, it's just like I was in a bar, except I didn't have to buy any drinks. I've got lots of friends online, mostly people I've met on Usenet. And thanks to the porno sites, a lonely guy doesn't have to leave his room in order to have a sexual encounter.
Dr. Balis: Don't you think you should get out more? Maybe meet some people in the flesh?
Mr. Hossfeld: If I can connect with someone on a purely spiritual level, even if it's through a machine, what else do I need?
Dr. Balis: Is that what's happening at those porno sites, pure spiritual communication?
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh, touché, Doctor, touché. You think I haven't wrestled with that particular contradiction? But I admit you've got a point--about getting out more, anyway. Actually, my computer keeps crashing--I figure it's an omen. Somebody or something's trying to tell me I'm using it too much.
Dr. Balis: So aside from reading, surfing the web, masturbating, and arranging your stuff, what have you been doing with yourself? That can't be the sum total of your existence.
Mr. Hossfeld: Well, there's eating and sleeping, but I suppose I haven't been doing much of either--and no, I don't want something to help me sleep. My dreams are still the best part of my day.
Dr. Balis: Are they always different, or do they recur?
Mr. Hossfeld: Sometimes they're different, but there's one I keep having. It's like I'm an animal waking up half-buried in the earth. I can smell the leaves rotting and see things crawling around in the dim light filtering down through the huge old trees overhead. I feel cold and restless; I want to find a sunnier spot. I try to push the dirt away and dig my way out, but my front paw is stuck--it's caught in a trap and there's no way I can get it off. I struggle with it for hours, twisting and writhing, but it's no use--I know what I have to do. So slowly, methodically, I start chewing my arm off, working through the layers of muscle, grinding at the tendons, then I hear the bone start crunching as my busy little teeth work away. In a way it feels horrible, and in a way it's good--it's the taste of liberation. But that's where I wake up. I never actually get free. And the next night I have to start all over again. Maybe I should join the animal rights movement--that must be what this is about. There're lots of places where they still trap animals like that, and it's got to be stopped. I can see that now.
Dr. Balis: But you don't feel trapped yourself? Don't you think that might be part of it?
Mr. Hossfeld: Me? No, I've never been more free. No job, no responsibilities...maybe the dream is an attempt to compensate--sort of a guilt trip I'm laying on myself.
Dr. Balis: Maybe. Do you happen to recall which arm you were chewing in your dream?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah, my right.
Dr. Balis: The one that was bitten. Has that healed up yet?
Mr. Hossfeld: Sort of. Most of the time I hardly notice it. But sometimes it starts hurting like hell. Why? Do you think that's what triggers those dreams?
Dr. Balis: It could have something to do with it. Are you still taking antibiotics?
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh, they're very insistent that I finish the whole course of medication. Apparently it's really bad if you start it and then stop before it's had a chance to work.
Dr. Balis: Yes, I'm glad you're sticking with it. You know, I looked up all the drug interactions associated with phenytoin--that's what you're taking to prevent seizures--and I couldn't find any problems caused by taking it with antibiotics. Are you sure that's the only medication you're using?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah, I'm really not into drugs--I have to force myself to take all these pills. I can't think of anything else except aspirin, which I sometimes take for those killer headaches I told you about.
Dr. Balis: Aspirin, huh? That might be it. I forget exactly what it said, but I seem to remember that salicylates were contra-indicated. Maybe you should try acetaminophen instead next time.
Mr. Hossfeld: What's that? I thought aspirin was supposed to be good for everything.
Dr. Balis: Sorry--I didn't mean to get technical on you. Aspirin is usually benign but it could be interacting with the other drugs. And acetaminophen is just a generic name for Tylenol, that's all.
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh, okay. I guess I can do that. You really think that's what made me act so weird with Eliza that time?
Dr. Balis: It's just a possibility, but it would be nice to rule it out. Have you two gotten together since then?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah, sort of. Actually, I tried to call her the next day, but her mom answered, real unfriendly. I don't know what Eliza told her about me, but it couldn't have been good. After a few more days, I tried again--same thing. Finally, after about a week of this, Eliza called me up. She's got a new place of her own, and I went there, but nothing much happened.
Dr. Balis: Nothing good, or nothing bad?
Mr. Hossfeld: Neither, really. We took it real slow--I guess we were both scared by what happened. She'd worked herself up into a real state about it, and I guess not hearing from me--not that it was my fault--didn't help. I don't know what's going on between her and her folks. I guess they threw her out, right when she was needing some love and support--nice, huh? So she was a real mess, and you know where I'm at; you don't start much of a fire by rubbing two wet blankets together...
Dr. Balis: You mean you tried to have sex and failed?
Mr. Hossfeld: No, nothing like that. I guess there's a lot of trust we need to build back up before we get to that point. We mostly sat in front of the TV and held hands, said we were sorry--a lot of crying and head-stroking, that sort of thing.
Dr. Balis: You were both crying?
Mr. Hossfeld: No, I guess I'm not that in touch with my feelings--too German or something. She was doing the crying, I was doing the "there, there, it's okay" stuff. It felt good, being needed like that, even though I was kind of useless, and her feeling so bad was mostly my fault in the first place. But it seemed to help. I guess we're back to square one. It's not like I thought--that I'd totally blown it for good. So I'm going to see her again in a couple of days. I hope I don't go into another weird state like before.
Dr. Balis: You mean your "robot" condition?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah. It was so strange; I'm not usually that way--I don't think so, anyway. You really think it was the aspirin?
Dr. Balis: It's just a possibility. Have you got any other ideas?
Mr. Hossfeld: I don't want to say, because saying something out loud makes it more real. And you're just going to scoff at me anyway.
Dr. Balis: Try me.
Mr. Hossfeld: I think I've been cursed. That wasn't just a bite I got, it sealed an entity into my blood. It's taken over my hand, and it's trying to take the rest of me. It's going slowly, except when it feels threatened like the other night. Then it goes into high gear, and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm just a zombie who has to do what it wants. You know how, when a vampire bites someone, they have to become a vampire too? You think that's just a myth? Maybe it's something that really happens. Do you think I'm going to do Eliza harm? I couldn't stand that. I couldn't let it happen. If it comes to it, would you be willing to drive a stake through my heart?
Dr. Balis: Whoa, Peter, slow down. Don't you think there are some other explanations for what went on? I mean, you were pretty depressed, taking medication...
Mr. Hossfeld: I knew you'd start in with your rational explanations--you think I haven't gone through them a million times? But this is what happens to spiritual seekers who betray their gurus: they get cursed.
Dr. Balis: Look, I'd like to get into all this with you, but you sprung it at the very end of the session. Let's start right at this point next week, okay? And in the meantime, take Tylenol, not aspirin.
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh yeah, take two pills and see me next week. I might have known.
Dr. Balis: Come on, Peter. I think that you know that I really care about what you're feeling, whether it's based in reality or not. But I've got another patient waiting...
Mr. Hossfeld: Okay, fine, I'm out of here.
Dr. Balis: Peter!
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