Transcript of 1st Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Alan Kurtz, Friday, August 8, 1997 at 3:00 pm.

Mr. Kurtz: Mr...uh, Doctor Balis?
Dr. Balis: Yes. You must be Mr. Kurtz.
Mr. Kurtz: Yes. Thanks for seeing me. Is there...hmm. Is there a particular seat?
Dr. Balis: Please sit anywhere you like.
Mr. Kurtz: You must do group therapy--all these chairs. Anyway, as I said on the phone, I'm looking for something fairly specific out of all this. I'm not looking for a long-term commitment.
Dr. Balis: I see that makes you smile.
Mr. Kurtz: What? Oh. Well, commitment is why I'm here. I'm curious about why my relationships don't last for more than a few months. I've discussed it with friends, but they don't seem to have these issues. So I figured I can let SII pay to bounce things off you for a few weeks.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean "these issues?"
Mr. Kurtz: Dating. Or not dating, as the case may be. Most of my friends are in long-term relationships. I'm more of the three-months-and-out type.
Dr. Balis: So you are with someone for three months and then?
Mr. Kurtz: Out. They usually start getting a little weird, I say something to try and cool things down, and the next thing I know, my calls aren't getting returned.
Dr. Balis: Hmm, you say something to cool things down?
Mr. Kurtz: This therapy thing is a little like talking to an echo, isn't it? Aren't you supposed to ask me about what I do and stuff?
Dr. Balis: We're here to talk about whatever you want to talk about. But knowing what you do is good, too. You told me on the phone that you work for SII.
Mr. Kurtz: I'm an engineer. I've been with SII since graduation, and I interned here for the last two summers before that. I'm doing my MBA--SII's good about paying for grad school, if you want to do something they think will benefit the company. A lot of people are hanging in there until they get the degree. Then they go.
Dr. Balis: Will you leave SII when you have your MBA?
Mr. Kurtz: Huh? Wait. What we say here...this is a doctor-patient privilege thing, right?
Dr. Balis: Yes. Anything you say to me is covered by doctor-patient privilege, unless I thought you were either an imminent danger to yourself or to others.
Mr. Kurtz: Leaving SII would be about as far from harm as it gets. Yeah, when I have the degree I'm gone. That's fine; they get their pound of flesh while I'm on staff. I put in plenty of time!
Dr. Balis: I would guess that being an engineer at a company like SII is quite a job.
Mr. Kurtz: They're all nuts. I do usability engineering--how to make our products easier for Joe Enduser to navigate. Talk about a no-win situation!
Dr. Balis: How so?
Mr. Kurtz: It's my job to make this stuff idiot-proof. But you have no idea of the caliber of idiots out there! If people would just apply two seconds' thought to some of these things. They don't read, they don't look at graphics, and they don't know how to use their computers. People are incredibly stupid, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: People often have difficulty understanding new concepts.
Mr. Kurtz: They aren't trying! This stuff isn't brain surgery. No wonder I'm not in a relationship. Most people just aren't able to keep up.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Kurtz: Now that's what I call therapy--one session and we're to the root of the problem. People are idiots.
Dr. Balis: Mr. Kurtz, I think we may need to explore that idea a bit further. It's an interesting conclusion, but I'm not sure it's going to help matters.
Mr. Kurtz: I know. Typical. Logical statements make no headway in this world.
Dr. Balis: Are the things you say to "cool things down" fairly logical?
Mr. Kurtz: Of course they are.
Dr. Balis: Can you tell me more?
Mr. Kurtz: Well...there's really not much to them. I say...for instance, this last time, I told my girlfriend that she needed to get her act together. She'd been whining about switching jobs and getting a new apartment for two months. She hadn't done a thing to make that happen! I told her that I didn't want to hear any more whining. She got really upset and...boom. I get really sick of having to take care of people like that, you know?
Dr. Balis: Boom?
Mr. Kurtz: Yeah, she jumps out of bed and starts wailing. And we were in the middle of...uh, never mind. So I've got another ex to deal with.
Dr. Balis: How do you mean, to deal with?
Mr. Kurtz: I work on keeping in touch with my ex-girlfriends. I've got loans out to three of them, and I told one of them she could move into my spare room if she was tired of her current boyfriend.
Dr. Balis: Has she moved in?
Mr. Kurtz: No. But I offered! My ex--my current ex--got really pissed about that. But even my other ex, she just wants to whine about this guy she's with. Hey, I offered! But people are idiots. Situation reduces to the previous problem.
Dr. Balis: You made the offer before your latest break-up?
Mr. Kurtz: Sure. It's my house! And I make plenty of money. I'm doing better than everyone I know. That's why I'm doing this therapy. All my friends are flakes. They're in the arts and completely broke; I'm always paying for them. I can afford to get these things cleared up by a professional. I could afford this even if SII wasn't paying.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Mr. Kurtz: I figure I'm okay--I'm just fine. I'm basically looking for a way of dealing with these people. I get tired of investing time in these things and hearing the same garbage after three months.
Dr. Balis: Mr. Kurtz, I can help you to discover patterns that may be occurring in these relationships. And I believe I can help you to break the patterns you choose to break.
Mr. Kurtz: I don't need fixing, Doctor. I need to figure out how to deal with these people. I'm obviously missing something important--some kind of cue that would let me know right off the bat who's insane. Because I clearly have some kind of maniac magnet.
Dr. Balis: Maniac magnet?
Mr. Kurtz: I attract these maniacs--these women who just can't cope.
Dr. Balis: Let's work to get a handle on what the patterns may be. From there, you'll choose how to proceed. I'm not here to fix anyone; I help you to do the work on your own.
Mr. Kurtz: Fair enough. Let's see. We covered the situation at hand and you have the basics on my job. Anything else you need from me today?
Dr. Balis: We can discuss anything you like.
Mr. Kurtz: Hmm. Tell you what. We have a few minutes left, but I don't have anything on deck for you. Why don't I take off a bit early, and when we meet again I'll come in with a list of topics? That seems more efficient. At one hour once a week, I hate to waste your time or mine.
Dr. Balis: If you'd like to come in next time with topics to discuss, that's fine. But I suggest you come in with just one as a starting point. Allowing discussion to unfold from there is usually more productive than trying to stick to an agenda. Tight scheduling tends to leave loose ends.
Mr. Kurtz: I hate loose ends. We definitely speak the same language here, Doctor. But we need to schedule our meetings, right?
Dr. Balis: Yes. Let's choose a weekly appointment time.
Mr. Kurtz: Do you know that SII has no female therapists on their list of recommended practitioners? Weird. You'd think that in this part of the world...
Dr. Balis: If you're uncomfortable talking to me, I can write you a referral to another doctor.
Mr. Kurtz: No. No, this is fine. Let's see how this goes for now. Anyway, how does your schedule look? I prefer afternoons if that's convenient.
Dr. Balis: This time is open next week. Would you like to meet next Friday at three?
Mr. Kurtz: Let me check. Sorry, I really live through this organizer. It'll just take a minute to boot up. Fridays are a good bet though. Yes, that works. See you next week, then?
Dr. Balis: Next week it is.
Mr. Kurtz: Good. See you then.
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Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Alan Kurtz's Transcripts Transcripts of Alan Kurtz's Communications
Button to Alan Kurtz's Patient File Alan Kurtz's Patient File

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